It’s Not Trump; Our Coalitions Matter

by Shaun Kenney

Stop me if you’ve seen this one before.

Virginia Republicans either get absolutely shellacked in an election, or the margins are super close and we either lose — in which case, the Western Experiment is over and America should pack it in — or we miraculously win and have set the new conservative standard for the next 20 years with Virginia in the vanguard.

We do this to ourselves every year, folks.

Hope everyone loves their non-partisan (sic) redistricting courtesy of the State of California. Fact of the matter is that Virginia Democrats outspent Republicans by $7.5 million and nearly lost the whole thing.

Now with one seat margins, they will have to work with three statewide Republicans without any clear mandate other than a strong desire from the electorate to quit being crazy and start applying common sense.

As for Virginia Republicans and the vision thing, we really do have to start believing in ourselves. It isn’t enough to curse the darkness; light a few candles and rediscover the leadership and vision of our heroes.

Anyone remember Jeffersonian conservatism? Anyone else remember finally ending the universally hated car tax? How’s about expanding the sphere of human freedom for a change and allowing individuals — not government — the option to choose what is best for our families, our education, and ourselves?

Give me this coalition:

“The most important goal in my life is to have some significant impact in preserving and expanding the realm of personal freedom in the life of this country.”

If it looks familiar, then it should. It is the maxim employed by former Republican Party of Virginia  Chairman Richard Obenshain during the 1970s when the Republican Party of Virginia went from nothing under the Byrd Machine to powerhouse by the late 1970s.

Six years was all it took.

If one looks at the issues which have won for Virginians? Expanding and preserving individual freedom remains our lynchpin. Parental rights. School choice. Defending the basic right to exist. Quality jobs. Decent health care. Affordable housing. The right to bear arms. Freedom of worship and freedom of speech.

We need a general sense of what we are about, a positive vision of Virginia values which makes just as much sense at a barstool as it does in a living room or a cocktail party.

And we need leaders willing to express our vision in concrete terms to voters.

The one thing we cannot do is keep blaming Trump for our inability to win elections or provide leadership and vision to working class Virginians. Our demographics aren’t going to send us back to the Reagan Revolution. Democrats have built parallel institutions, including think tanks, media outlets, opinion writers and polling firms. Republicans have none of these institutions in Virginia.

The only ones who are going to ride to our rescue are ourselves — and 2024 is coming sooner than we realize.

Shaun Kenney is senior editor of The Republican Standard, where this column first appeared. It is published with permission.