But for that to work, Democrats can’t be mean themselves. Positioning itself as the decency party requires them to discourage cheap shots like the Latino Victory Fund ad in Virginia that featured a pickup truck—sporting a Gillespie bumper sticker—that terrorized children. That kind of “independent expenditure” wins few votes and gives Republicans ammunition.
To win, Democrats also have to respect each other, not purge “neo-liberals” and posture as truer to the populist faith. In Virginia, Northam and Tom Perriello fought a spirited primary; after he lost, Perriello—the more populist of the two—campaigned his heart out for the man who beat him and the rest of the ticket. Bernie Sanders supporters are understandably angry about former DNC chair Donna Brazile’s book alleging that the party tilted toward Hillary Clinton. But they need to follow Perriello’s lead and look forward, not back.