by Shaun Kenney
One of the great things about being a conservative is that we are inherently an anti-ideology. As the late William F. Buckley Jr. once put it, the great task of the modern conservative movement is to stand athwart history yelling STOP!
Yet in a wider sense, it is far easier for conservatives to tack with the wind than our counterparts on the left. Liberals tend to wed themselves to institutions and then find themselves besieged by conservatives who continue to ask why and progressives who demand more on the what and how.
One of the particular demands on the conservative movement at present is whether or not we are a big tent or a fortress.
More particular is this: do we have to surrender what we believe in order to become more palatable to the wider public?
Or is there simply a better way of packaging what we believe and describing why it matters to working class families? In short, if what we believe has a kernel of truth to it, isn’t persuasion better than fighting?
The truth is that Republicans are far better at adapting what we believe to the times than our counterparts on the left precisely because we keep asking the same question over and over again: Does this expand the cause of human freedom — or not?
For Virginia Republicans, the sentiment is as old as there has been a Republican Party of Virginia — thank you General William Mahone. The maxim was best articulated by one Richard D. Obenshain, who by sheer force of will resurrected what we know as the present-day Virginia GOP from mere footnote to statewide conscience, serving as state party chairman in 1972 before his U.S. Senate bid in 1978.
To some degree, one will be hard-pressed to find a Virginia Republican chairman who has interrupted this spirit, each one serving it in some way. Patrick McSweeney might be one name we could mention; Kate Obenshain’s tenure would certainly be another — by land and title, a continuation of her father’s leadership and vision.
Certainly, the four chairmen whom I served followed in these footsteps, and Rich Anderson is most certainly proudly holding aloft the same torch.
In 2021, Virginian Republicans nominated and elected the most diverse ticket in the Commonwealth’s 400-year history.
In 2023, Virginia Republicans yet again delivered an even more diverse ticket of state candidates — each one carrying the fire in their own way, but all of them on the same theme — that there is a better way to do politics in Virginia; that crazy isn’t normal; that parents matter; and that Virginians deserve something better than to be called a bigot, hater, racist, sexist, or homophobe — all “magic words” designed to stifle debate — when objecting to the policies of the political left.
Virginians are catching on — conservatives, independents, moderates all, and from every race, ethnicity, and class background.
Whether the Democrats figure it out is their problem. They can play the scold; Republicans have a duty to find the energy that state Senate candidates Segura, Durant, Brewer, Woolf and Diggs are discovering among the electorate — and champion those values in Richmond and in the public square.
Good luck, guys.
We are winning this one. I’d rather be us than them right now, that’s for sure. Good luck as well to Juan Pablo Segura — I bet on his campaign early and you guys are absolutely crushing it right now. KEEP HAMMERING.
Shaun Kenney is the Senior Editor for The Republican Standard. Republished with permission from The Republican Standard.