The election results are in and the handwringing has begun. “Yes we can” had become “maybe we can’t” as Democrats ponder the loss of the New Jersey and Virginia governorships.
So permit me an observation. Nothing profound. Just the thoughts of someone who grew up in New Jersey and lived 10 years in Northern (note the emphasis on the word NORTHERN) Virginia.
New Jersey has long had a problematic relationship with its governors. Having one resign because of an affair with a gay lover doesn’t surprise Jersey voters, who take perverse pride in the f-cked up politics of their state, like the high school troublemaker who’s proud of getting detention every day. I suspect that Jon Corzine’s crime was being governor of a state whose economy is ailing, corruption worse than ever and where property taxes (which my father has bitched about ever since I can remember) are outrageous. Yesterday’s results were not a referendum on Obama. They were a referendum on Jersey. Obama says “yes we can.” Jersey voters say “no we won’t.” Got a problem with that?
Then there’s Virginia, whose prosperity is in its rind, namely that 30-mile strip between the Potomac and Dale City. Much like General Grant, most Northern Virignians don’t go south of Fredericksburg, and Southern Virginians see the northern part of the state as under Yankee occupation (though they’re more than happy to accept all that nice tax revenue). Why anyone thought that Virginia was solidly in the Democratic camp is beyond me. Northern Virginia is growing, but for now the majority of voters live in the rest of the state, which is still fairly conservative on issues like gun control. Perhaps Virginia looks Democratic because a lot of pundits live in D.C., which along with Northern Virginia and the rich counties of southern Maryland, could (and probably should) form its own state.
So this isn’t about Obama. This is about voters in two states voting over issues that affect their states, which is what a responsible electorate is supposed to do. I wouldn’t want a New Jersey voter to elect a governor as an message of support for Obama. He’s a big boy and he can fight his own battles.