By Peter Galuszka
If ever one photo best describes what 2020 was like in Virginia, this shot, by the brilliant veteran photographer Scott Elmquist at Style Weekly, shows it.
The photo is of state Sen. Amanda Chase, R-Chesterfield, at a July 4 rally at the capitol. Her defiant expression, the assault-style rifle and the over-the-top elephant skirt tell you what has become of the Virginia Republican Party, which hasn’t won a statewide public office in about a decade.
Chase is a pistol-packing, foul-mouthed, tough-talking show girl who is running for governor and backs the dangerous authoritarian tendencies of outgoing President Donald Trump. Chase is so extreme that her county GOP kicked her out.
Republicans were still so frightened of her that they decided to hold conventions and not a primary to decide between her and Kirk Cox, a more moderate politician and perhaps anyone else who runs. Now Chase has announced she will run as a Republican. Doing so gives her a leg up.
Gone are the center-right, reasonable Republicans that actually could bargain with Democrats to get things done. Instead, there are the totally partisan politics of resentment, xenophobia, racism, fantasy and denial of science.
The other day, a curious guest appeared on MSNBC, a left-leaning cable network. Appearing was outgoing U.S. Rep. Denver Riggleman, a Republican who decried Trump’s absurd refusal to accept reality and admit he lost the November election. More recently, Trump has mulled over ordering martial law and sending in the military to re run elections in key states where he lost.
This is outrageous nonsense that makes the U.S. seem like a banana republic. Riggleman urged concern about Trump.
Curiously, Riggleman lost his primary in the 5th District to Bob Good, a far right politician with ties to Liberty University where there is an internal controversy of top officials using school resources to back trump. Good achieved his victory by spotlighting the fact that Riggleman participated in a wedding between two gay people. Never mind that gays have the Constitutional right to marry. Homophobia and hatred do well in the rural district.
After winning the general election, Good made dangerous statements that the COVID-19 pandemic is a fraud. I am sure that the families of hundreds of thousands of Americans who have died from it will agree.
Chase will certainly get a boost from the likes of the small town bigots. This has nothing to do with traditional GOP policies of free speech, low government spending and fewer government regulations. She is the face of the new Virginia Republican Party.