As I listened to Democratic Lieutenant Governor candidate Ralph Northam at a fundraiser last night, it occurred to me that the two candidates for that position couldn’t possibly be more different. It is, in short, a race between an accomplished professional who takes everything he does seriously — and a rabble-rousing demagogue who’s never succeeded in anything other than spreading extremism.
Dr. Northam’s day job is as a pediatric neurologist. Think about it: he treats kids with brain injuries and disorders — not a position you can BS your way through or in which you can do a half-assed job and call it a day. It’s a highly skilled profession on which children’s lives and futures depend. And he’s been in practice for over 20 years, after serving as a physician in the Army and completing residencies at two Army Medical Centers, including Walter Reed.
He’s been in the State Senate since 2007, where his signature accomplishment was the law banning smoking in restaurants, protecting the health of their workers and patrons. Now think about that — he got a solid smoking ban in a state where tobacco has been king since the colonial era.
Northam, is in short, a serious professional, someone who focuses on resolving important challenges — which, it’s worth reminding everyone in this age of Tea Party craziness, is exactly and only what we want our government officials doing.
And then we have the Reverend E.W. Jackson, the extent of whose seriousness on matters of governance may be summed up by the video from his failed Senate campaign where he smashes watermelons labeled “Federal Budget”, “Unemployment” and “Obamacare” with an axe.
This is a race then between the man wielding a scalpel and the one throwing around a hatchet. Where Northam’s life is one of accomplishment, it’s hard to find anything productive or good that Jackson has achieved. His past includes failure to pay taxes and a declaration of bankruptcy. Even his stories of coming up from childhood deprivation have turned out to be fairy tales.
And unlike Northam, Jackson has managed to BS his way through at least part of his life. The Post story above quotes a former aide to Jackson in his previous campaigns as saying “The problem was, he just wasn’t 100 percent committed to all the intricate details to actually get to that next step – to actually being in public office.”
The difference in these two men’s approaches was not lost on the Washington Post when it outlined its endorsement of Northam:
Where Mr. Northam…is measured and moderate…Mr. Jackson is drunk with his own words, incapable of resisting bombast and demagoguery. While Mr. Northam, a pediatric neurologist, speaks movingly of the children he has treated, Mr. Jackson blathers about his “love for all people” – even as he goes about savaging Democrats (agents of Satan), homosexuals (“very sick people”) and religious minorities (followers of “false” religions).
Which one would you trust your kid’s brain with? Now, how about your entire state?