Just so you know, I had always planned to make this the final edition of the Odd Dominion column. When I first started scribbling this occasionally amusing trifle way back at the dawn of 2007, I assumed that I’d keep writing it until I ran out of jokes, or material, or both. Now, I’ll be the first to admit that, at times, the jokes have been pretty thin, but, as it turns out, the world of Virginia politics is a never-ending cornucopia of ridiculous shenanigans. And so, if I so desired, I could continue to crank out these little pearls of political punditry ad infinitum (and, I’m sure some readers would grumble, ad nauseum). But after nearly a decade of bi-weekly columns, I realized a few months ago that I was running out of steam, and that finding funny and/or insightful things to say about the current state of Virginia politics was getting harder and harder.
And then, of course, there was the Trump problem. Even before the unimaginable, horrific electoral triumph of that carrot-colored cretin, the task of writing about him—and what his success says about the state of American racial and gender politics—was almost too depressing to bear. See, when I started this column all those years ago, its main purpose was to make fun of pols who were as ridiculous as Trump, but nowhere near as duplicitous and dangerous. In fact, the impetus for the entire column was an event—now lost to the sands of political time—involving then-U.S. Representative Virgil Goode, who had written a constituent letter decrying the use of a Quran by newly elected Muslim congressman Keith Ellison during his swearing-in ceremony. “If American citizens don’t wake up and adopt the Virgil Goode position on immigration,” he warned, hilariously employing the third person, “there will likely be many more Muslims elected to office.”
The letter was obtained and published by C-VILLE’s Erika Howsare, and made some national news, as overt Muslim-bashing by politicians was still considered bad form back then. But here’s the thing: Goode, along with other early Odd Dominion targets such as George “Macaca” Allen and unrelenting ambition machine Eric Cantor, was at best comic relief, and at worst merely symbolic of how darker, nativist strains of political thought get woven into the fabric of our imperfect democracy.
But Trump is different. He is a true monster and a sociopath: an ignorant buffoon who has no driving force save ambition and no moral compass to speak of. I fully realize that his ascendancy to the presidency of the United States was supported by a large minority of American voters, and that many of those voters are hurting economically and feel culturally assailed. I realize this, and I do not care. Every single person who voted for Trump voted to give a racist, sexist, anti-semitic, narcissistic demagogue the keys to the world’s most powerful democracy, and by doing so has debased the very idea of America, and put the future of our great country in peril.
And yes, I got it wrong. I, who always prided myself on my peerless prognosticating ability, was absolutely certain that the country that I love could not possibly put a man as unqualified and destabilizing as Donald J. Trump in the White House. But you know what? I’m not embarrassed or chagrined about getting it wrong. I got it wrong because I believed in the innate goodness of the American people, and trusted in our collective ability to make the right choice, even if we were angry and in pain and felt like lashing out.
This time, however, we couldn’t manage to do that. Next time, I pray that we will. I won’t be around to write about it, but I pray that we will.
Odd Dominion was an unabashedly liberal, twice-monthly op-ed column covering Virginia politics. It was encouraged, crafted and whipped into shape by a truly talented group of journalists and editors, chief among them Cathy Harding, Graelyn Brashear, Lisa Provence and Jessica Luck. Thank you for reading.