By Peter Galuszka

One of the stranger attributes of Virginia’s conservatives is their cheesy, Calvinist streak.

Their world view tends to celebrate the rich and powerful, regardless of whether the individual worked diligently and creatively to generate the wealth or if it was inherited. For example, one man (not a Virginian) whom I respect described the attitudes of the old Richmond elite this way: “I got mine from mah Daddy and to hell with everybody else!”

This form of self-entitlement stretches into making moral judgments. If someone is poor and perhaps sick, then it is their fault. They have not punished themselves enough. They have not worked hard enough. If you give them too much, they will just stay that way.

Which brings me to a Washington Post editorial this morning that really rang true. It notes that Gov. Robert F. McDonnell had to be bludgeoned by Democrats into expanding Medicaid for the poor in order to get his convoluted but needed tax hikes to help save the state’s road system.

Why was this quid pro quo necessary? Good question.

Virginia, the Post notes, is a top 10 state for wealth but is No. 48 in per capita spending on Medicaid which protects needy, low income people who can’t afford health insurance. ObamaCare would let the states expand coverage to 400,000 Virginians who need help. The feds will pick up the tab for the first three years and 90 percent to 2020.  Later, it’s a half-half split. Republican governors in Arizona, Florida, Michigan and Ohio have gone along with the expansion, seeing little value in denying the needy.

So why was McDonnell holding his nose?

Because hard right conservatives with a Calvinist streak have too much power, that’s why. McDonnell is paying a price for his tax hikes on roads. The Conservative Political Action Conference, for instance, is not inviting him to their upcoming confab. Arch rival and conservative Ken Cuccinelli is invited.

At the end of the day, who cares what the hard-right thinks? The point is to help the poor, especially when a rich state like Virginia can help.

As conservatives gnash their teeth after their November drubbing and try to find a new bearing point (or drift as the case may be), they need to come to a better idea of compassion.

It might not go down well with the Baconauts and Boomergeddons, but flinty Calvinism and strict dogma on lifestyles, income levels and immigration are not the future. Just ask the millions of Hispanic-Americans in this country who did not exactly support Mitt Romney.

What’s needed in this state is more compassion, not more lectures on how to be successful from the right wing chattering upper classes who probably got their’s from Daddy and Mommy anyway.

Share this article


(comments below)


(comments below)


11 responses to ““I Got Mine from Mah Daddy!””

  1. DJRippert Avatar


    I don’t know what it is about Richmond but I have that very stereotype burned into my mind. Perhaps it was the first day I got to college at UVA (Aug 16, 1977 – the day Elvis died). I was standing on Madison Lane with one of my old football chums who had also arrived that day. I was wearing construction boots, faded jeans, a black Led Zeppelin tee shirt. My hair (as usual) was about a half afro down to my shoulders. My friend was dressed in similar garb. Down the road comes a BMW. At that point in my life I believe I had only seen one BMW – ever. Inside the BMW were two couples. All four had khaki pants, brightly colored shirts with some kind of lizard on them and sunglasses that looked like JFK and Jackie – O might have once worn.

    The car slowed down and the four people inside stared at the two of us like we had just stepped out of a spacecraft from Mars. We were wide eyed right back. Were these people going to a costume party in the middle of the day? And what’s with the rubberized shoe-boots they were wearing. Had they been cleaning fish earlier?

    After the car passed my friend just said, “Preppies. Richmond.”.

    As the weeks rolled by it became clear that they were preppies from Richmond. And they were very proud of living in some place called The West End. And they most definitely got theirs from Daddy.

    1. Apparently, Don learned everything he needed to know about Richmonders from this encounter. It appears that he hasn’t updated his opinion in the past 35 years.

      In my experience based upon the Richmond of 2013, not the Richmond of 1955, Richmonders are incredibly engaged in the community, generous with their time and generous with their money. Just a couple of examples stemming from my recent reporting. The Richmond-area/Central Virginia community food bank, Feedmore, has 350 community partners — churches, not-for-profits, etc. — who help feed the poor in the region. The Richmond City Jail has some 130 different faith-based programs active in the jail. Some 70 to 80 chaplains visit the jail every week. Step into an inner-city Richmond school and you’ll find tutors and mentors from the community, many of them preppy-looking whites, helping with the children.

      As an side, the preppy schools in Richmond require their students to contribute their time participating in community events. That’s something that I was never required to do when I attended a preppy school in Washington, D.C.

      1. DJRippert Avatar

        Actually, I updated my opinion 35 hours ago when I read Peter’s column. Sounds like things are much as they were.

        If you like, someday I’ll provide a picture of some of the men I met from the trailer parks along Rt 1 back in the day.

        The preppies from Richmond looked bizarre but were far from the worst of the various cliques I came across while growing up.

        As for preppy schools – I don’t know. I spent every day of my K-12 and college life in public schools. Those schools had no requirement for public service although joining something like the Key Club and performing public service was good for the college app.

        As for charitable endeavors, I don’t believe Peter or I ever commented one way or the other on that. I am sure that preppies practice good dental health as well. Perhaps you could comment on that.

      2. reed fawell III Avatar
        reed fawell III

        In my experience, the most reliable test is to judge folks on what they do. Not by what they “look like” or where they supposedly “came from.”

        This lesson I learned the hard way – namely that fools and angels are pretty well distributed equally among of us all.

        1. DJRippert Avatar

          Oh sure. I agree. However, I took Peter’s depiction as more of a “first impression” point. If you close your eyes and ask:

          1. What does a person from Chicago look like? How do they greet you? What is the first impression?
          2. What does a person from Charlotte look like like? How do they greet you? What is the first impression?

          Now ….

          1. What does a person from the West End of Richmond look like? How do they greet you? What is the first impression?

          Certain locales are known for certain first impressions. Brooklyn. Cajun country in Louisiana. The West End of Richmond.

          The only place in Virginia where I get a strong sense of a consistent first impression is the West End of Richmond.

          It’s not even a bad first impression – just kind of jarring. Plastic shoe-boots, rumpled khakis, belts with little whales pictured on them, neon / phosphorescent shirts with little lizards, Mitt Romney hair and JFK shades? Repeated hundreds and hundreds of times? Even the names seemed to follow a protocol:

          1. First initial
          2. Unusual middle name
          3. Traditional English surname
          4. Roman numeral – preferably IV or higher

          And those southern accents! Wow. I know plenty of people from Salem, Roanoke, North Carolina and even Georgia who have far less of a southern accent than the preppies of Richmond’s West End. Do they all get shipped off to somewhere in southern Alabama when they are kids so they can lean that drawl?

          Bottom line – when a group of people carefully cultivate a certain look, language, image and consistent philosophy they beg to be stereotyped – at least in first impressions.

        2. DJRippert Avatar

          This is what my impression of Richmond’s West End looks like:

          Maybe Bacon is right and things have changed. Who knows?

  2. larryg Avatar

    I’m not totally form the compassion an sympathy school myself and I’m totally fine with preppies – all variants. Life is about luck if nothing else and some are lucky as hell.

    I believe strongly in education – that every child get an globally-competitive education – even if we all have to chip in to provide it.

    and I do not think because a child has bad/inadequate/you-name-it – parents that it’s tough cookies and he/she are just screwed out of at least a start in life – even if we have to pay teachers to deliver extra effort for at-risk kids.

    but beyond that, I do not begrudge wealth any more than I would begrudge someone winning the lottery or finding a goldmine on their (even inherited) property, etc and I certainly do much admire the entrepreneurial spirit and efforts that make the world go round… something we should be teaching also in my view.

    But Luck and silver spoons, et al, do happen and that includes having rich parents. So be it.

    Beyond that – I ALSO DO believe in individual mandates for both retirement and health care simply because if we don’t do this, we are incapable of watching kids or the elderly die living in cardboard box slums. (mostly).

    so we have a system where we require people to set aside money for the years when they will no longer work – and this is not such terrible anti-free market concept when you have economic powerhouses like Singapore doing this very thing – and they have a significant free market economy plus one of the lowest infant death rates and highest life expectancy in the world.

    It CAN work. We know this form the reality that it does – not only in Singapore but every single OCED/Industrialized country – on the planet.

    … skipping ahead.. to agree with some things that TMT has advocated:

    1. – should wealth be taxed – every year – just because you have wealth?

    as far as I know.. we do not tax assets held at the Federal level but we do tax growth of wealth… and at the local level we do tax wealth – every year to pay for schools and law enforcement – largely -and we do have elections if we think the taxation of wealth and property is too much.

    2. – if wealth is used to engage in short-term, speculative activities – we should tax those transactions in my view….. because I’m just not convinced that buying/selling stocks via computer – by the second – is a benefit to anyone except the person doing it and potentially in aggregate can actually harm a lot of innocent people.

    but preppies? no.. they didn’t earn their wealth the old fashioned way ..they just hit the lottery…

  3. Wow, this is quite a window into the liberal way of thinking. Loaded with derogatory stereotypes, argument by anecdote, compounded by fuzzy thinking. A number of points:

    — So, “hard-right” conservatives are generally despicable human beings. But which is it? Are they entitled preppies who feel no compassion for anyone but themselves? Or are they flinty Calvinists? Are these two groups identical? Or are they allied in some unholy alliance?

    — When it comes to silver spoons, those with inherited wealth are just as likely, if not more so, to hold liberal sentiments. We call them limousine liberals. They bleat about compassion for the poor at their garden parties. But their idea of philanthropy is to launch a government program, to be paid for by higher taxes rather than digging into their own pockets.

    See, I can dish out substance-free, derogatory stereotypes just like you!

    — Peter doesn’t understand the difference between liberals and conservatives because he doesn’t have a clue what conservatives think. He knows what liberals say conservatives think, but he doesn’t know what they actually think.

    In Peter World, conservatives don’t care about the poor. That’s nonsense. Conservatives think that the way to engage poverty is in the civic realm, not the government realm. Conservatives believe that liberal-inspired government programs create dependency and make poverty worse, not better. To conservatives, liberals seem much more concerned with demonstrating their compassion (and thus their moral superiority) than actually helping poor people. It’s all about posturing, not achieving results.

    I refuse to cede one inch of moral ground to liberals.

    1. DJRippert Avatar

      If you were a real conservative, Jim your first comment on the Accotink Creek question would have been to ask who was responsible and who was going to fix the mess.

      Real conservatives believe that individuals and collections of individuals need to take responsibility for their actions. Yet your column never assessed the actual problem, never asked about accountability and never put forth a plan to remedy the situation.

      Instead, you paid homage to a paper pushing bureaucrat’s victory over another group of paper pushing bureaucrats.

      Conservatives believe that the Constitution is sacrosanct. They cite the second amendment and the Heller decision as proof positive of an individual’s right to gun ownership. Then, they use every bureaucratic scheme, scam and trick to overturn the Supreme Court ruling in Roe v. Wade.

      These ideas and the people who espouse them are not conservatives. They are anti-government radicals. Just like people such as Obama are not really liberals in the classical sense nor progressives in the classical sense. They are pro-government radicals.

      The two fringes are starting to look the same to me. The private school upbringings, the appeal to the lowest common denominator, led by professional politicians with limited “real life” experience ….

      Introducing Kenrak Obomanelli.

  4. Richard Avatar

    All I know about Richmond I learned from Garrett Epps’ novel, The Shad Treatment. Extremely entertaining novel about Richmond and Virginia politics by a born and bred West Ender. I also read his book on the 14th amendment – anyone interested in the current voting rights debates should consider reading it.

  5. larryg Avatar

    re: ” If you were a real conservative, Jim your first comment on the Accotink Creek question would have been to ask who was responsible and who was going to fix the mess.”

    Agree. instead what we got was ideological paper warfare…

    300 million dollars is what it would cost to fix and that’s 300 million of damage to the Chesapeake Bay that would have to be paid for at some point in the future ?

    so you can see where this is headed… more lawsuits against the EPA over the Chesapeake Bay, over air quality rules, over TMDLs, etc.

    it’ll make Bacon and the Tea Party happy… but who else?

    Real Conservatives are actually interested in “conserving” our air and waters – not destroying them then arguing with the Feds over getting them cleaned up.

Leave a Reply