EDITORIAL: What will Democrats offer to voters fleeing crazy Land of Trump?

SHARE EDITORIAL: What will Democrats offer to voters fleeing crazy Land of Trump?
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Virginia Gov.-elect Ralph Northam celebrates his election victory and addresses supporters and at the Northam For Governor election night party at George Mason University in Fairfax, Va., Tuesday. (AP Photo/Cliff Owen)

The weather vane on America’s political barn swung sharply Tuesday as Democrats made gains from Virginia to Washington state.

But if that shift to the left — or away at least from the fuming far right — is to become a prevailing weather pattern, Democrats will have to do more than sit back and crow.

Fed-up voters across the country, especially in the suburbs, sent a clear message that they’ve had enough of Donald Trump and his ugly ways — bashing immigrants, defending white supremacists who rally around Confederate monuments, and ripping kneeling football players. But if Democrats hope to build on Tuesday’s victories to chase Trumpism back under its rock and retake the U.S. House, they’ll have to do something more.

They’ll have to end their own civil war, being waged between Hillary Clinton centrists and Bernie Sanders lefties, and give Americans something to vote for — not just against.

EDITORIAL

Virginia Republican gubernatorial candidate Ed Gillespie (AP Photo/Steve Helber)

Virginia Republican gubernatorial candidate Ed Gillespie (AP Photo/Steve Helber)

Meanwhile, every Republican in a swing congressional district or state now has to rethink Ed Gillespie’s strategy in the Virginia governor’s race. He hewed to the mean-spirited Trump line, even if he never invoked Trump’s name, and he was trounced — 53.9 percent to 45 percent — by Virginia Lt. Gov. Ralph Northam. Hillary Clinton had won the state by only five points.

Exit polls in Virginia showed that Trump still enjoys the support of his base, but he has alienated large numbers of other voters. Half of those who voted in Virginia told pollsters that Trump was major consideration for them — and that led them by a margin of two-to-one to vote for the Democrat. Trump is that toxic.

On the West Coast, Democrats flipped a Washington state Senate seat in a race on which the two sides spent more than $10 million, giving the Democrats full control of state governments along the entire coast. Among other victories, the Democrats also won back the New Jersey governorship.

Republican candidates next year face a dilemma. If they distance themselves too much from Trump, they risk a low turnout by their party’s base in the November general election. But if they embrace Trump, suburban Republicans — better educated, moderate on social issues and more respectful of actual facts — might find they just can’t stomach it.

Good luck with that, Gov. Bruce Rauner. You, too, Rep. Peter Roskam.

Send letters to letters@suntimes.com

Correction: An earlier version of this editorial should have referred to Ralph Northam as Virginia’s lieutenant governor.

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