The former Virginia governor looks back at the tragedy in Charlottesville in August 2017, which showed that “we are a divided nation today stuck in the past.”
McAuliffe (What a Party! My Life Among Democrats: Presidents, Candidates, Donors, Activists, Alligators and Other Wild Animals, 2007) briefly recounts his time as the chair of the Democratic National Committee before devoting most of the book to his term as governor and especially the events in Charlottesville. A native of upstate New York, the author struggled to win election in a tradition-bound Southern state. After winning the governorship, he acted quickly to enhance democracy by resisting a Republican-dominated legislature and a state Supreme Court dominated by justices seeking to maintain the status quo. McAuliffe’s most substantive early accomplishment involved restoring voting rights to more than 200,000 felons, many of them people of color, who had completed their prison sentences. The governor’s determination to remove statues honoring leaders of the Confederacy played a role in white nationalist demonstrations that threatened to turn into race-based violence. During the most publicized of these demonstrations, on August 11-12, 2017, in Charlottesville, McAuliffe had hoped that officials in the iconic college town would listen to advice from the governor’s security experts about minimizing violence. However, local police tactics proved ineffective, resulting in a death and many injuries. The author offers a detailed account of what went wrong during those two days, and he provides additional perspective on what he considers a shameful response by Donald Trump, in which the president once again relied on “his all-sides-are-to-blame nonsense.” Until Trump ran for president as a Republican, McAuliffe had always known him as a Democrat. As the narrative progresses, the author’s lack of respect for Trump becomes abundantly clear. After Trump fanned hatred following Charlottesville, McAuliffe spoke forcefully and repeatedly about the cancer of white nationalism—and continues to do so.
A straightforward mix of inspiration and concrete action items for fighting white supremacy.