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Partisan blinders shouldn't disallow fair assessment of Terry McAuliffe

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Virginia’s Governor-elect, Terry McAuliffe, got active over the weekend as he visited Women Giving Back, an organization based out of Sterling, VA that assists “transitionally homeless women and children get on their feet with clothes to help them enter the workplace.” Saturday was also a day that McAuliffe called on all Virginians to help out in their communities to highlight “how we can all come together to help one another.”

As McAuliffe prepares to be formally sworn in as Virginia’s 72nd governor on January 11th, it’s my hope that supporters and non-supporters of the former Democratic National Committee chairman will commit themselves to a balanced assessment of McAuliffe’s performance as governor, as opposed to the partisan mindset that has affected U.S. voters over the last few years in particular.

For supporters of McAuliffe, this means holding his feet to the fire if he abandons campaign promises or compromises fundamental Democratic Party values. It also means giving the Governor-elect praise when he carries out his campaign promises and furthers the Democratic Party agenda. Lastly, it means expecting reasonable compromises to be reached with Democratic and Republican Party colleagues in the legislature.

For non-supporters of McAuliffe, the Governor-elect should be judged by his willingness to listen to all applicable stakeholders and to make policy decisions based upon what is the best option for everyone involved. The Governor-elect should not be expected to abandon basic Democratic Party values or cave to unreasonable demands expressed by members of his own party or that of the GOP.

If anyone can convincingly argue that the partisan divide that defined politics in the U.S. over the past few years in particular have been more of a boon than a bane, then I’d like to hear it. But it should be clear to any reasonable observer that the partisan divide has only weakened the country in a number of notable ways. As Abraham Lincoln noted, "A house divided against itself cannot stand."

I’d also add that for a house divided , elected representatives on “our” side are often given a get-out-jail-free card that would not otherwise be granted, inhibiting an important ‘internal’ political check. McAuliffe deserves the benefit of the doubt, but he also deserves the full brunt of his supporter’s disapproval if his campaign platform falls by the wayside or he compromises basic Democratic Party values.

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