Given the long history of Republican willingness to seek every advantage and cut every corner to maintain their grip on power, how do they justify their actions? This essay is an attempt to place the two parties into perspective.
Virginia Democrats sacrificed their potential advantage to redefine legislative districts to advance the ideal of non-partisan redistricting. Because of Democrats, there is an amendment before Virginia voters this November that would set up a commission to create more balanced and less partisan districts. The novel idea of granting voters fair representation instead of politicians choosing their voters was made possible by Democratic concern for a more responsive government. This was within the grasp of the Virginia GOP for a generation but they preferred to gerrymander districts to their advantage.
For years, Democrats fought to expand medical care to Virginia’s neediest and finally did so with the assistance of a handful of Republicans. The spectacle of citizens in Virginia’s poorest regions flocking by the thousands to temporary clinics for badly needed medical care did not move Republican legislatures to attempt a remedy. It took an influx of Democrats into the legislature to provide desperately needed health care.
Thanks to the Democratic Party, Virginia is finally raising the minimum wage to allow workers to earn wages more in line with the rest of the economy. The opposition party has done everything it can to discourage laborers to band together to represent a united front on worker’s rights.
Virginia Republicans contrived reading of the Second Amendment supports their insistence on an ever-expanding acceptance of guns. Under the false banner of “guns save lives,” they oppose any compromise. Despite broadly accepted and long-standing laws that regulate alcohol, cars and drugs, they reject common-sense regulation. Disregarding newly created state laws, there are movements to create Second Amendment sanctuaries and militias throughout our rural counties that ignore the existence of structures to maintain law and order.
After yet another mass shooting in Virginia, the governor held a special session to address public safety issues. Republicans used procedural methods to shut down the discussion indicating that their argument was so weak that it couldn’t withstand public scrutiny. Recent public forums displayed a disrespect for free speech and a dependence upon emotions instead of reason and discussion. Meanwhile, studies show that states with more intelligent firearm laws have lower levels of gun violence.
The long-sought-after Equal Rights Amendment received much the same treatment at the hands of the Republican establishment. Until now, the attempt to honor and codify the rights and contributions of women was shoved aside without consideration.
Our 6th Congressional District Congressman Ben Cline was at a public meeting last year where he stated how proud he was to attend an event honoring Gen. George Marshall, a longtime Virginian. Marshall was chief of staff during WWII, and secretary of state and defense for President Truman. Marshall was instrumental in forming and directing the Marshall Plan, which rescued a ruined Europe and set the stage for the creation of NATO. This international cooperation has kept the peace for over 70 years in a continent torn by centuries of conflicts. President Trump has been very critical of NATO and suggested removing the United States from the organization. When questioned about the contradiction between honoring the efforts of Secretary Marshall and Cline’s support for Trump’s attacks on our European allies, his response was to play to his base and invoke “Nancy Pelosi” instead of defending the attacks against our allies.
Reflecting a changing Virginia and providing better solutions has never been an option for the Virginia Republican Party. The GOP refuses to support policies that would improve lives in the commonwealth. Republicans in Virginia would rather paint the Democratic Party as socialist, out of control and anarchic. They entertain having Virginia counties secede and join West Virginia rather than continue under “radical” Democratic control. Why are our Republican representatives afraid that their policies will not be accepted by Virginians and that they must rely on stirring irrational feelings and making false claims? Why does the Republican Party feel entitled to power despite losing touch with the common interest?
With the reemergence of Democratic state government, with progress on the ERA, health care, public safety and redistricting, among other issues, Democrats have demonstrated their compassion for citizens and shown a commitment to progress. I urge you to contrast and compare the actions and intents of the two parties and decide who best represents Virginia values this fall.
Foreman is vice chairman of the Warren County Democratic Committee and a long-time county resident.