Blue Louisa: A blog Covering Central Virginia & national politics from a progressive perspective
Even with this years Blue Wave which saw the Democrats retake the House of Representatives in Congress, and approximately 300 of the thousand plus state level seats they lost during the Obama era, it should be clear that based on how most of the country voted, many would still vote for a dead man as long as there was an R next to their name.
Meanwhile, the biggest story of this election, widespread voter suppression continues to be under reported. Republicans are prepared to use any means necessary to keep people from voting, as this report from Florida makes clear. Even after the elections are over, they will continue to use tactics little removed from the 2000 Brooks Brothers riot to keep the votes from being counted.
If they were counting on gerrymandering, where after the 2010 census they packed many vote rich suburbs into “safe” Republican districts to save their bacon, those plans backfired spectacularly. Thanks in no small measure to the widespread unpopularity of Orange Julius, and his heavy handed crassness. With college-educated women denouncing him in droves, voting heavily for Democrats, a degree of self-inflicted damage so severe its hard to see how Republican hope to win them back anytime soon.
All that being said; based on the results in many rural counties in the Central Virginia region that logic doesn’t seem to apply to thoroughly despicable candidates like Cory Stewart, who got 60 % or more of the vote. The biggest reason for that is because of hypocritical evangelists, who as a group consistently and overwhelmingly vote for the most extreme candidates, largely because of their fear of people of other creeds, colors, and languages.
And it’s why they will continue to support radical candidates at the state and local level in the 2019 and 2020 elections far more than they ever supported Bush, McCain, or Romney. Their enthusiasm for hard core rhetoric has never been about terrorism or enforcing laws, its always been about fear. And according to one report, “White evangelicals overwhelmingly back hardline positions on immigration…”
A hypocrisy which has become a wholesale surrendering of their own values and moral judgment, and abdication of any sense of social responsibility, something which we will see play out in Tuesdays special Senate election in Mississippi, where the people of that state will likely elect an openly racist Senator. And we will see that same dynamic in next year’s state and local elections, as well as the 2020 presidential election.
Until last year when the Democrats unexpectedly took 15 seats in the House of Delegates, most of the Central Virginia's regions state Delegate and Senate races typically went 65/35 or more in favor of Republican candidates, who rarely faced any opposition. During this year’s Congressional elections that previously insurmountable margin appears to have dropped even further, in many cases all the way down 55/45 splits, making many formerly uncompetitive and often uncontested districts competitive for the first time in living memory.
Louisa County followed this trend with overall support for Republicans candidates dropping by 6% from the 2016 election cycle, and seats which have long been controlled by Republicans like the House of Delegates 56th district were no longer automatic victories.
This trend is important, because which ever Party controls the House of Delegates and the Senate after the 2019 elections will be in charge of the 2020 redistricting which sets the boundaries for all state and federal districts for the next decade. So consider how during the 2010 redistricting, House and Senate Republicans abused that power to gerrymander themselves into a permanent majority.
A one sided relationship which made them immune to any pressure from their constituents, allowing them to effectively pick their voters rather than the voters electing their representatives.
Actions which delivered immediate results for them in the 2011 statewide election for Delegates and Senators, giving Republicans a supermajority in the House of Delegates, and a 20-20 tie in the Senate. Along with the 2015 statewide election where only one out of 140 seats changed Party’s, a statistical improbability which far exceeds national historical norms of 97 % elected officials being re-elected.
A toxic majority which allowed them to implement what ever policies their donors wanted, particularly during the Sponge Bob McDonnell era. Even after losing control of Governors mansion in 2013, Republicans in the General Assembly maintained enough clout to force two consecutive Democratic administrations into doing Dominions bidding.
Faced with the prospect of loosing their slim majorities in the House and Senate, it should be clear that Virginia’s Republican Party will do whatever is necessary to maintain control. And we should expect to see many Republican Delegates and Senators being heavily funded by State Party PAC’s, like speaker Cox’s Colonial Leadership Trust PAC accompanied by national Party money and rivers of untraceable outside dark money from the likes of AFP and other Koch Brothers controlled groups.
Given what’s at stake; and that winning 15 seats last year in the House of Delegates took up a lions share of the State Party’s funds, it remains to be seen if the state Democratic and national party is prepared to pony up the money needed to retake the General assembly in 2019.
And in this neck of the woods, if unaffiliated and “non partisan” groups like Indivisible Louisa who were indispensable in local canvassing and GOTV efforts for Abigail Spanberger will continue to put forth similar efforts on behalf of Democrats and independents in 2019 and 2020.
In an extremely close election, Abigail Spanberger captured the 7th District’s seat in the U.S. House of Representatives—one that had been in the hands of the Republican Party for almost 50 years.
She succeeded in this “unwinnable” campaign by focusing on the needs of the people in the district and the issues that affect their lives: Affordable and accessible health care, equitable tax policy and sustainable growth, infrastructure expansion like broadband that can bring economic and educational opportunities to our communities, protecting our natural resources and safe and nurturing well-funded public schools.
The message in her victory declaration was one of unity and working for all her constituents: “We are for ensuring the rights of all of our neighbors no matter who they are, where they live, who they love, what they look like, who they worship and where they’re from. We succeeded at the polls tonight because voters rejected the politics of hate, the politics of division and the politics of ideology. I am committed to bringing you the kind of responsive and accountable leadership you deserve.”
Culpeper citizen John Owens presciently posted this on the Culpeper Persisters’ Facebook page two hours before the polls closed on Election Day: “I think it’s important that we stop to look at the amazing, unifying force that Democrats in Culpeper county and central Virginia have become.”
“When I moved here in 2011, I did not feel this was a very welcoming place for a Democrat. We now have an active, vibrant, unified force for change that showed up en masse today to help take back a country For All and restore decency and common sense in government. In the last year, the (Culpeper County Democratic Committee), Persisters and other groups have mobilized in a way that I never thought I would see in this area.”
The Virginia Public Access Project’s (VPAP.org) analysis, comparing the 2016 presidential election with the 2018 midterms, showed that Democrats gained between 5 percent in the Lignum precinct and 21.7 percent in Willow Shade. The East Fairfax, Willow Shade and South Ridge precincts flipped from red to blue. West and East Fairfax, Eggbornsville, Browns Store and Brandy Station each increased their spreads more than 13 percent.
Change is coming to Culpeper, and though the Blue Wave may have merely lapped at its shores in this election, it is a fact that Abigail Spanberger won her seat in the House of Representatives by 6,587 votes. It is a fact that Culpeper County delivered to her 7,906 votes. Elections have consequences. Every vote matters.
Voters and poll greeters at each of the precincts again showed civility and friendliness toward each other despite differences in political opinions, proving again that Culpeper is a cut above the nastiness that has been going on in other parts of the country.
Culpeper’s Board of Elections and its very able registrar, James Clements, again proved that we have honest, open and fair elections here. Georgia and Florida could learn some lessons from Virginia.
There is some talk of perhaps having a bipartisan social gathering after the first of the year, to help show the way in solving problems in a spirit of compromise and to promote good governance and community well-being.
On Jan. 3, our newly elected congresswoman, Abigail Spanberger, will take office along with her colleagues, who will collectively transform the House of Representatives back to its proper Constitutional role as a check and balance to the executive branch. She will work for all of us, not just the ones who voted for her. We should all cheer her on.
Editor’s Note: this originally appeared in the Culpeper Star Exponent, and has been re-posted here with the author’s permission.
When it comes to Dominion Power and Virginia politics, we can’t be reasonably expected to be energy experts, or knowledgeable about what’s happening in other State House of Delegate and Senate districts, a little knowledge goes a long way. And in the aftermath of Democrats picking up 3 Congressional seats in Virginia, comes this betrayal.
With Delegate Jennifer Boysko (HD 86) running for the now vacant 33rd State Senate seat, that opened up after Jennifer Wexton’s recent victory over Barbara Comstock for Virginia’s 10th district Congressional seat.
Should she win this Saturday firehouse primary against Democrats Sharafat Hussain, and Charlotte McConnell, she becomes a heavy favorite to win the “special election” held on December 18th, against whichever patsy the Republican’s end up nominating for this seat
Given that Governor Northam just replaced every air quality board member opposed to the Atlantic Coast Pipeline, and that she has repeatedly refused to take the Activate Virginia pledge - not to accept any contributions from Dominion and Appalachian Power which almost all of the new Delegates took in 2017, claiming with a straight face that “I can take their money and vote against them.”
It’s clear that she prefers to be part of Democratic Senator “Dominion Dick” Saslaw’s dirty Dominion money machine, rather than maintaining her independence. More importantly, if elected to a the 33rd Senate seat, it would give the Republican’s a two vote majority in the House of Delegates, as well as giving Dominion another reliable vote in the Senate.
Update: With Eileen Bedell running for the 10th District Senate seat next year, the chances of her winning in 2019 are good, since Clinton won this district by 12 points in 2016, and Ralph Northam won by 15 points in 2017. And the odds of the Senate being controlled by Democrats in 2020 just went up.
I know that the RTD is a Conservative newspaper. But, I am disappointed that you ignored the facts in choosing to endorse Dave Brat in Virginia's 7th Congressional District.
--You didn't mention that Mr. Brat knowingly voted to increase our national debt by $2.5 trillion. (H.R. 1, H.R. 6756, H.R. 6757, H.R. 6760).
--You ignored the fact that Mr. Brat has opposed any action by the Federal Government to alleviate the effects of climate change, thus endangering our grandchildren's future.
--You forgot to mention that Brat has stated his intent to cut Social Security and Medicare, threatening the economic security of America's seniors.
--Maybe you didn't know that Brat has acted to allow mentally incompetent individuals to acquire guns and to remove the minimum sentence for criminals who use silencers on their weapons.
--You didn't mention Brat's vote to repeal the Affordable Care Act, which would leave millions without health care.
--You ignored the fact that Brat acted to restrict EPA's ability to enforce the Clean Air and Clean Water Acts
--You apparently are unaware of Brat's refusal to approve comprehensive immigration reform legislation.
--You didn't consider Dave Brat's intent to use public education money for school vouchers.
--You apparently don't care that Brat has acted to defund family-planning organizations.
I am sure that had you actually considered the facts you wouldn't have endorsed Dave Brat. I hope that now that they know the facts, your readers will vote to retire Brat on Election Day.
Editor’s Note: This letter originally appeared in the Times Disgrace, and has been re-posted here with the author’s permission.
After a lifetime of searching for the lessons in our history, I feel compelled to say as emphatically and humbly as I can that I am deeply troubled by what the 2016 election sanctioned, our current political discourse, and the human values we are trading for a pot of porridge (to draw on the Biblical story). They are hauntingly similar to how politicians “redeemed the South” for white rule after Reconstruction, to why America tolerated the Jim Crow and Racial Purity laws of the 1900s, the blind frenzy of the Red Scare in the 1950s, and many other examples. I think we have arrived onto dangerous ground.
We’ve repeatedly seen resentment; fear, anger, and vilification of “the other” ignite violence, from lynching to modern mass murders. Many of you are friends or acquaintances who usually vote Republican. No matter party preferences, I hope we share a desire for our leaders to cease abusing our trust through stoking fear and lies, speaking of opponents with open scorn and disdain, and peddling short-term economic gains that threaten our future and the better part of our American character. Where are the voices to build our courage instead with statements like, “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.”?
If Republican leaders, afraid to split with President Trump and his voters, continue to dominate both houses of Congress, they will succeed in creating policies and their consequences we may be unable to reverse in the future. It’s unlikely that any of us – on either “side” - will change our sentiments on actual issues. But, based on honest moments with some of you, I know that you are also troubled by our current leadership. Some of you even turn off the television when the President is speaking because you don’t want your grandchildren to think his language and bullying is something they can emulate. How can that be OK with us as a nation? Is it really OK with you?
I implore each of us to think deeply about our motivation as we vote in Tuesday’s election. Maybe some of you are consoled that the Supreme Court now has a conservative majority. If so, will you risk joining me, even just in this one particular election, in voting for Senator Tim Kaine and Abigail Spanberger to ensure we have voices in Congress willing to challenge our current president’s increasing power when it is important to do so? Whatever the election results, I trust we can find ways to work together as a community and not be divided here in Louisa by what is playing out on our national stage.
Editor’s Note: This originally appeared in the Central Virginian and has been re-posted here with the author’s permission
Are your parents or grandparents retired? If so, you have a big stake in the Nov. 6 election. Medicare and Social Security are on the table for budget cutting. As a matter of fact, Senate Leader Mitch McConnell (R) has said the present budget deficit is “driven by the three big entitlement programs that are very popular: Medicare, Social Security and Medicaid.” According to McConnell, these programs are the problem and must be “reformed.” That’s another word for cutting their budgets or privatizing them.
These programs were created to keep seniors out of poverty and provide healthcare to them in their aging years. All of us Americans have paid into these programs during our working years so that they might provide for us during our retirement years. Both programs have been very successful in providing for seniors. But the Republican Senate and House are determined to cut these programs and perhaps privatize them so that Wall Street and insurance companies can make a profit from them, all in the name of reducing the ballooning deficit (which they created).
Keep in mind that since Trump and the GOP have controlled the presidency and Congress, the debt has doubled and it is growing rapidly. The deficit has grown from $548 billion in fiscal year 2016 to $985 billion in fiscal year 2019, and it is growing every day even during these non-recessionary times. The recent huge tax cuts for the wealthy and corporations have not paid for themselves and likely won’t.
This ballooning debt is not the fault of Social Security and Medicare. These programs have remained stable because of fiscally disciplined management. In fact, the Social Security Administration expects Social Security “to be payable in full on a timely basis until 2037, when the trust fund reserves are projected to become exhausted. At the point where the reserves are used up, continuing taxes are expected to be enough to pay 76 percent of scheduled benefits (from the SSA website). In fact, Medicare will be able to fund Part A health care expenses for beneficiaries through 2028, and the program can adjust for inflation and increase deductions to fund the program well into the 2030 decade.
These programs are not in crisis! In fact, there are many reform efforts being proposed in committee, reforms that serve the needs of the middle class and working people who rely on these programs. Social Security and Medicare must not be cut to provide tax cuts for the wealthy who don’t need these vital programs.
Again, these programs are NOT responsible for the acceleration in the national debt. The recent huge tax cuts for the wealthy and corporations, along with fiscal mismanagement by the President and the Republican Congress, are responsible for the alarming rise in the deficit.
Social Security and Medicare were created by Democrats. They have been defended over the years by Democrats. If you want to preserve them, I recommend you vote for Democrats this Nov. 6th.
Editor’s Note: This originally appeared in the Central Virginian and has been re-posted here with the author’s permission
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