The Republican Campaign in Virginia Is All About Preserving “Our” Confederate Statues

It’s not subtle anymore.

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Virginia will choose its next governor in less than two weeks. On the surface, the dynamics of the race seem pretty favorable for Democrats. The state is doing very well economically under Democratic Gov. Terry McAuliffe, who is term-limited, and President Donald Trump is extremely unpopular. The Democratic nominee is McAuliffe’s second-in-command, Lt. Gov. Ralph Northam. And the president’s party tends to do poorly in the first midterm and off-year elections.

So Republican gubernatorial nominee Ed Gillespie has tried something different. Instead of awkwardly triangulating between his president and the opposition in any substantive way, he has simply adopted Trump’s campaign wholesale—by connecting Northam to a Latino gang, MS-13, and appealing desperately to white nationalists in the campaign’s final stretch.

To wit, Gillespie’s most recent campaign ad is the second spot this month that attacks Northam for proposing to take down Richmond’s memorials to Confederate generals. Over the summer, Northam called for the statues to be taken down after a white nationalist rally at a Confederate monument in Charlottesville ended in the murder of a counterprotester. (Northam has also sent mailers linking Trump and Gillespie to the Charlottesville white nationalists.)

“Ralph Northam will take our statues down,” the narrator says in the latest ad. “Ed Gillespie will preserve them.” Then Gillespie comes on.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RMpKbQULZZ0

It doesn’t take a degree from Wharton to understand who the “our” in that sentence is. “I’m for keeping ’em up, and he’s for taking ’em down,” the Republican says, driving home the point. “And that’s a big difference in November.”

Trump, for his part, understands exactly what’s going on:

Gillespie is from New Jersey. Trump is from Queens. If the Confederacy had had this kind of support up North during the Civil War, we might be living in a much different world.

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SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

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