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This is being written prior to the results of the Nov. 6 election being known, but for the purposes of this discussion, it really doesn’t matter who emerged victorious, either at the micro or macro levels.
The good news is, it’s finally all over. Perhaps the bad news is, with the 2018 mid-term election out of the way, the jockeying for the 2020 presidential election is about to start in earnest. Lord help us all.
Among the three Northern Virginia congressional elections, two were foregone conclusions – Democrats Don Beyer in the 8th and Gerald Connolly in the 11th never faced serious threats in districts that have proved in recent years impregnable to anyone but a Democrat.
That left the 10th District, where Republican incumbent Barbara Comstock and Democratic challenger Jennifer Wexton went at it, often through surrogates, in a campaign that, if it had to be summed up in a single word, “demoralizing” would do just fine.
We didn’t hear much at all, particularly in the last month, in terms of positive messaging from either candidate. There were a few ads where Wexton stared – in a look perfected in “Stepford Wives” – into the camera and made some vague promises about the future. Even that, though a tad unnerving the umpteen times we came across it, was far superior to the ridiculously bad and insulting (to viewers’ intelligence if nothing else) third-party ads that dominated the airwaves in the weeks leading to Election Day.
Did the consultants who put these ads together, and filled their pockets with cash for doing so, care that the 10th District has an electorate far too savvy for screeds being thrown at them on TV and radio? Probably not.
Neither Wexton nor Comstock, nor the outside interest groups supporting them, probably did their causes any favors with such amateurish messaging. But that’s par for the course in the current political environment, which is toxic not just on one side, but on all.
Let’s just call it as we see it: Unless and until a large swath of the American electorate grows up and begins to treat governance as something more than reality-show-cum-blood-sport, the candidates and the messaging will only continue to sink further into the gutter. Alas, it’s likely we haven’t even come close to hitting rock bottom.