The Virginia Way

by Robin Beres

Politicians and pundits have invoked the “Virginia Way” in speeches and writings since colonial times. The phrase is used by partisans to evoke sentiments of decency and honor (and votes) in residents of the Old Dominion. In 1926, Douglas Southall Freeman wrote in an editorial for The Richmond News Leader that the Virginia way is not one of contention, but of understanding, not the making of humiliating laws, but the establishment of just, acceptable usage. Public sentiment can be trusted now, as always, to find the best ‘Virginia way.’”

In January 2019, writing in Bearing Drift, Brian Schoeneman described how the “Virginia way” used to work in the legislature: “Republicans and Democrats would fight hard and long during the campaign season, and when the fighting was over, both sides would pick themselves up, dust themselves off, and govern effectively for all Virginians. The bitter invective and the accusations went away.”

Unfortunately, if the childish, vindictive sign seen today in a Richmond front yard is any indication of today’s political atmosphere, the Virginia Way is in big trouble.