Virginia Republicans Reap What They Have Sown

By Don Rippert

Massacre. The Republicans in Virginia have once again been shellacked at the voting booth. Republicans went from controlling both the Virginia Senate and House of Delegates to controlling neither. It appears that Democrats will be the majority in the senate by a 21 to 19 count and will control the house with a 55 to 45 margin. There is still some uncertainty with a few races but nobody thinks the Republicans will emerge from that uncertainty with control of either chamber. The Democrats will control all aspects of the state government – Governor, Lieutenant Governor, Attorney General, state Senate and House of Delegates. The fact that this rout occurred while the Democrats’ top leaders were mired in blackface scandals and forcible rape allegations only adds to the enormity of the Republican failure.

Blame game.  The blame game has already begun. It was Trump’s fault. Or the Yankees in Northern Virginia. Or George Soros. Or the so-called RINOs who have infected the party. In short, blame is being placed on everybody and everything except where it belongs … on the leadership and policies of the Republican Party in Virginia.

Trump. Republicans have been losing ground across the state for far longer than Donald Trump has been president. In one state wide election after another the Republicans have lost. The last Republican to be elected governor won the election 10 years ago  Virginia has only had one Republican governor in the last 20 years. Given that governors can’t stand for immediate reelection that record is truly dismal.

NoVa Yankees. This Republican fairy tale holds that people from the north have moved to Northern Virginia seeking federal jobs and tipped the political balance in the Old Dominion to the Democratic Party. The easiest rebuttal to that absurd notion is Henrico County (outside of Richmond). Once a hotbed of conservative Republicanism the county is now reliably Democratic. Even the dream weavers of Virginia’s Republican Party can’t blame the loss of Henrico County on transplanted federal employees in Northern Virginia.

George Soros. Under this fable George Soros and other evil “out of state” actors bought the election with a tsunami of campaign donations and other election funding tricks. Spare me. Virginia has been a hotbed for excessive and corrupt (though legal) political donations for as long as anybody can remember. Virginia’s status as one of a very few U.S. states with absolutely no limits on campaign contributions hardly began in this election cycle or the prior cycle.

RINOs. This hallucination holds that “Republicans In Name Only” have taken over the Republican Party and so watered down its policies that it no longer represents the majority of conservatives in Virginia. Presumably those disaffected conservatives either vote for Democrats or don’t vote at all. Hogwash. A real concern should be just the opposite. Rabid Tea Party people took the more centrist Republican Party of Ronald Reagan, Jim Gilmore and Bob McDonnell far to the right. In Virginia they used ridiculous conventions (as opposed to open primaries) to control the nomination process and then nominated completely unelectable candidates. E.W. Jackson anybody? Only two words are needed to refute the idea that centrist Republicans can’t win elections at the highest levels of state government … Larry Hogan.

Time to look in the mirror. The real failure of the Republican Party in Virginia is two-fold. First, the party stands for nearly nothing. Far from being fiscally conservative, Republican majorities in the General Assembly have presided over massive taxing and spending increases  Among these are the transportation tax bill that seems to have solved nothing, conformance with federal tax legislation that provided a windfall of new tax money out of the pockets of Virginians, “taxing” hospitals to pay for Medicaid expansion, ridiculously high tolls, etc. Where is the fiscal restraint? The supposedly liberty loving Republicans have squelched legalized gambling (except for horse racing and the lotto), marijuana decriminalization / legalization, etc.  Where is the sense of individual freedom and liberty?

The second problem with Virginia’s Republicans is the issues they have taken on. A woman’s right to an abortion was decided by the US Supreme Court in 1973. I don’t like it but it is what it is. Constantly scheming to overturn a valid Supreme Court ruling is not what I expect from the party of “law and order.” Opposing the “one handgun a month” law was another tone deaf action. Artlessly scuttling Northam’s special session on gun control in the wake of the Virginia Beach shootings was another. Guess what, geniuses,  you won’t be able to stop anything now that you’ve lost control of everything! A few small and reasonable concessions could have made a difference but Tea Party zealots are incapable of compromise.

Going forward. First things first … Republicans must admit that they have failed. No more blaming northern Yankees in NoVa, George Soros, sunspot activity or anything but themselves. Republicans need to stand for something in Virginia. Being fiscal spendthrifts and social ogres is a losing proposition. Virginia Republicans need a new outlook, a new approach and new candidates. I’ll outline my specific thoughts on these points in a subsequent column.

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33 responses to “Virginia Republicans Reap What They Have Sown

  1. This damn Yankee is a Nats fan.
    But well said.

  2. A commentator pointed out that Virginia is no longer just born and bred natives; we have a LOT of “come-heres” and they don’t know much about the Virginia Way and what they do know they don’t like.

    But across the board the Va GOP has advocate things that they believe in much more than listening to what voters want, and they actually tell voters they are wrong and as long as they are in charge – no way!

    I don’t know about Trump but on issues like health care, gun rights, abortion, climate, green energy, the GOP has their own philosophy which they promise to impose if elected!

    They’re hardly vanquished though – there’s still a substantial number of them in the Va GA, and they’re not going anywhere – they actually do represent Rural Va principles and values (as self-defeating as they are sometimes).

    And WHO KNOWS, our urban areas might loosen up the Richmond reins on them! DJ would like that!

    • The Virginia Way is code for acceptable corruption. The 1902 Constitution begat the Byrd Machine which begat The Virginia Way. The 1971 Constitution represented the absolute minimum that could be done to get the Feds off of Virginia’s back. It’s time for another rewrite. I’m not sure if it’s the “come heres” that have changed Virginia. Is that the difference in Henrico County? I don’t know. Rather, I believe Virginians outside of the plantation elite are sick and tired of an upper crust of untrustworthy corporate and political schemers running the state. Well, maybe that’s the same as saying they’re sick of the Virginia Way.

      As for representing rural Virginia – I don’t buy that. I doubt people in rural Virginia really object to casinos, sports betting or the decriminalization of marijuana. Would they be annoyed by a “one handgun a month” rule? Maybe a little but I can’t imagine it becoming a big deal in an election. Regardless – the Republicans don’t effectively represent anything or anyone anymore. That’s what happens when you pin your political future to a declining demographic, obstinance and a way too clubby relationship with special interests.

      As for the Democrats diluting Dillon’s Rule – don’t hold your breath. It’s payback time and neither rural Virginians nor their so-called leaders in the Republican Party are likely to squirm away from progressive control.

      Here’s some of what Chap Petersen posted on his Facebook page on Nov 1 (before the election) ….

      “In the movie “The Shawshank Redemption,” there is a penultimate scene in which the corrupt prison warden stares at the words above his doorway, as he hears the sirens of police coming to finally arrest him.

      That may well describe November 5, 2019, known as Election Day. But you can also call it Judgment Day. Because on that day, the voters of Virginia will pass judgment on the political party that has controlled the Virginia legislature since 1997.

      In the last few years, that party has delayed Medicaid expansion for six years, despite the fact that Virginia taxpayers already paid for it. It blew up a special session on gun safety, just weeks after the Virginia Beach shootings. It rejected reform legislation for the environment and campaign financing. It even blocked passage of the ERA.

      Now the sirens are approaching.”

  3. Working on my analysis, but may give it to Thomas Jefferson Institute first. The resistance is moving its HQ….:)

    • I look forward to reading your piece. However, I can’y say I like the term “resistance”. Like Donald Trump the Dems in Virginia won the elections fair and square. The image of sneaking around in commando style blowing things up has more weight in opposition to a foreign invader than in opposition to legitimately elected politicians. It’s a nit for sure but I’d rather focus on rehabilitating the Republican Party in Virginia than sniping at the Democrats. A one party state is unhealthy and that’s where we’re headed without major Republican reform.

      It may be that, in retrospect, this year’s fiasco was what the Republicans needed.

      • This is largely where I came in, following the similar 1985 debacle. Spent the next eight years full time rebuilding/rehabilitating. Ancient history, forgotten by nearly all….

  4. I’m going to risk sounding elitist and say that I think it’s even simpler. Our populace is less and less educated with little understanding of basic economics, let alone the wonky intricacies of tax policy. Most Americans now vote on the issues that they grasp: guns, abortion, caring for kids and concern about their neighborhoods/environment. Democrats are going to win with promises of peace, love and safety from ourselves. Years ago Republicans convinced themselves that white Evangelicals will carry them into office, and stopped adhering to their modern foundation of less government is best government. There is nowhere for a libertarian to turn.

    • “There is nowhere for a libertarian to turn.”

      Preach! I hear you, brother (or sister). Maybe a reformed Republican Party in Virginia could become somewhere for a libertarian to turn.

      • “Libertarian” is not a real political concept. They want to take all the existing social benefits – like public roads and public education and twist it into some convoluted philosophical pretzel.

        The only TRUE Libertarians live in 3rd world countries …where no one is in charge of roads and education is primary elementary only and literacy rates are abysmal.

        • Better I call it individualism? I’m looking for candidate who can differentiate among the tasks the government should control (much of transportation, weather service, public education, public security (probably a few things I’m omitting in haste), while leaving off the matters that citizens should be expected to dispatch themselves. I find little evidence of government doing much well, so I’d prefer that it limit what it tackles rather than growing into the huge, ineffective
          behemoth it has become, at all levels
          .

        • You argument is reducto ad absurdum.

          Libertarians typically believe that America needs a strong military because protecting the citizenry is a legitimate role of government. Libertarians typically believe that we don’t need 800 foreign military bases when Britian, France and Russia combined have 30.

          Libertarians believe that if you want to drive you should pay for the roads … in proportion to your use of the roads and their underlying cost. If you can’t afford to pay for your properly measured fair share of the roads you use you shouldn’t drive. Driving is not a right.

          And so on …

          • Nope. They do not want to “undo” what we already have – like health care or public roads or public education… they want to “modify” it to Libertarian “principles” – cockeyed style.

            REAL Libertarianism is found in 3rd world countries where the govt is largely not responsible for roads, education, public safety, fire service, medical care, etc… there are some FINE examples right now where those countries are prime locations for REAL libertarians!

    • @Lift – do you think Virginia’s urban dwellers are less educated?

      The GOP still “owns” rural Va, right? It’s the urban that toppled them, no?

  5. I see the Dillon Rule as part and parcel of the Virginia Way – top down dictates from the leadership class!

    I think corruption is an equal opportunity – both parties POX in Va and other states.

    re: “come-heres” in Henrico – .. Chesterfield, Charlottesville, Tidewater, NoVa – urban areas tend to add jobs for well-educated folks.. we import them for sure perhaps in differing percentages depending on the urban place.

    But the bigger point is that the Va GOP did not represent them and instead wanted to impose on them – their own Conservative philosophy – part and parcel of the governance tradition in Va over the decades.

    I still think there is a place for fiscally-conservative, socially-moderate elected in Va – left and right but no more hard-core right.

    • I agree with just about everything you wrote. The only thing I’d add is that a strict implementation of Dillon’s Rule not only exemplifies The Virginia Way it also makes stealing by the garbage truck of our elected officials and the swarm of flies that follows it easier.

  6. Larry – you are very confused about what Libertarians believe. They want to “undo health care”? What does that even mean? Round up all the doctors and nurses and shoot them? Undo public roads? What does that mean? Do you think that a vehicle miles traveled method of taxing somehow undoes public roads? It’s just a different, more fair way to pay for public roads.

    • No confusion. REAL Libertarians do not expect the govt to use eminent domain to build roads. REAL Libertarians BUY it willing seller/willing buyer!

      REAL Libertarians don’t want the govt to REQUIRE employer-provided insurance to be offered to all employees regardless of their health status much less at the same price for everyone.

      REAL Libertarians do not have the GOVT institute a policy called EMTALA which forces all hospitals to take everyone regardless if they can pay.

      Many, many other examples. We have FAUX Libertarians who want to insert themselves AFTER the govt has set up it’s system.

      All I am saying is let’s not pretend what Libertarianism is.. because it’s NOT that in this country – REAL liberarianism is more like 3rd world countries that have not set up all those “public” institutions like we have.

  7. Larry said earlier, and repeated, this theme: ” the GOP has their own philosophy which they promise to impose if elected.” [emphasis added.] I think there’s a lot of truth in that statement. The GOP changed from a party that applied a basically conservative approach to common sense problems, to a party that tried to impose an ideological solution, period. Where is the listening in that? Where is the willingness to empathize, and to compromise? Where is the kindness? Where is the respect for the center? No party can govern without those attributes. What the election shows is, people have had enough of the divisiveness.

  8. For the GOP to refocus on its classic principles, it will need to be rescued from the ideological prison of Trumpism and the lack of rational and scientific principles. The GOP may be too far gone in the direction of ideology at any cost vs reality to be fully rescued. Certainly today’s GOP is not a party focused on the Libertarian principles of John Rawls’ Theory of Justice, nor does the GOP seem concerned about an honestly libertarian minimal state as characterized by Robert Nozick. The Koch bros. have put forth their own vision of “libertarianism” in the Tea Party and think tanks that appear to support their corporate and personal self interests more than libertarian principles of justice and liberty. Libertarians will have to take their philosophy back and that may mean building an honest and principled Libertarian Party. As Acbar has noted, no party or philosophy can exist in a free nation without empathy, respect, and a willingness to compromise to move forward in the service of the country.

    • I’m mystified that Trump identifies as Republican and vice versa. I see little alignment with what I once considered Republican platform, which I think makes the point James Bacon began: Republican Party has lost its way (not only in Virginia). I find no ideology in Trump, other than belief in Trump. I think Trump has succeeded in creating a third party borrowing the apron strings of the GOP. My view of the Koch brothers (surviving brother Charles) is that they are more recently mislabeled and misunderstood (I see the father with his John Birch roots as one stage, and see now an evolved philosophy). They’ll (Charles) support Democrats when it moves ball in the desired direction of fostering opportunity, which is has little to do with making them any richer, or may even be counter to their business interests. And agreed, anything we can do the allows us to govern from the middle is good for both parties.

      • re: 3rd party / GOP – Oh I think it’s pretty apparent that the GOP is velcroed tight to Trump via Trumps base which Trump basically co-opted from the Tea party wing of the GOP. Bosom buddies!

        You can say that they seemingly are odd bedfellows but the GOP makes no bones about being in bed with Trump these days and can anyone think of any issues where Trump and the GOP do not agree?

        Trump wants to kill ObamaCare – so did the Virginia GOP

        Trump says that Charlottesville was “both sides” – ditto the Va GOP

        Trump is fine with crap health insurance, ditto the Va GOP

        Trump is fine with insurance companies denying pre-existing conditions – ditto the Va GOP that would do nothing to stop it from happening.

        Trump killed the Clean Power Plan, would kill RGGI – ditto the Va GOP.

        these are just a short list.. Trump and the GOP are well-aligned on quite a few of their respective philosophies.

        The idea that the GOP “somehow” unwillingly got “associated” with GOP and it was not their intention… we’re deep in whopper territory! As Trump is want to say – they fell in love!

    • I see Trump as an aberration rather than a revolution. What is his political philosophy? Unfortunately for Republicans in Virginia they’re problems pre-date Trump by a decade or so. Trump didn’t kill the Republicans in Virginia and the absence of Trump won’t resuscitate them. He may have been a catalyst for failure but he wasn’t the root cause of the failure.

  9. Posted on behalf of L. Steven Emmert:

    I’ve enjoyed reading Don Rippert’s post and the several comments that followed. He wrote well, and sensibly, about the pickle that the state GOP now finds itself in. I found myself nodding in agreement on several occasions as I read.

    I’m writing to mention a matter that’s within my bailiwick, specifically the following line: “The Democrats will control all aspects of the state government – Governor, Lieutenant Governor, Attorney General, state Senate and House of Delegates.”

    Not quite all aspects. There are three branches of government: legislative, executive, and judicial. Beyond doubt, the Democrats will control the first two after January 1. But control of the judiciary remains far beyond their reach. For the most obvious example, the Supreme Court of Virginia is sharply conservative and will remain so for the next decade, even if Democrats win every statewide race over that time.

    Supreme Court justices aren’t overtly political, in that there are no Republican or Democratic jurists. Unlike other states, which follow the ghastly procedure of having judges campaign for office in general elections, no justice here carries an R or D after his or her name. In that sense, neither party “controls” the judiciary.

    But that’s the technical explanation. The truth is that this court is dominated by a strongly conservative judicial philosophy, because Republicans have been able to choose anyone they wanted, without so much as consulting the Democrats, for several years now. The last time the Democrats had a say in things was in 2011, when control of the General Assembly was split. Two vacancies occurred early that year, and the parties brokered a deal whereby the House Republicans would choose one new jurist and Senate Democrats chose the other. The Ds then selected a judge with a sharply conservative voting record on the Court of Appeals.

    The result is that there are no liberals, and almost no moderates, on the court now. The least conservative member of the Supreme Court is the former Republican Attorney General of the Commonwealth, Justice Bill Mims. And any serious observer of the Supreme Court will agree that its jurisprudence has vectored steadily to the right for several years now. Virginia is a great state in which to do business, but a terrible state in which to be seriously injured. As I’ve expressed before, the Supreme Court of Virginia is the place where large tort judgments go to die.

    One last point: I smiled at the reference to The Shawshank Redemption in one of Don’s comments, quoting Chap Petersen. The quotation that haunted the warden in that movie was, “His judgment is coming, and that right soon.” That illustrates Don’s thesis beautifully.

    • Good point on the judiciary, but of less value than it might be with an Attorney General who simply ignores or nullifies laws at will, or takes legal positions based on polling. Before a judge can rule there must be an issue at the bar.

    • Mr. Emmert – thank you for the well written comment. We tend to overlook the judiciary here on BaconsRebellion. I appreciate you pointing out the reality of the Virginia Supreme Court. Perhaps you’d be willing to submit an occasional column regarding judicial matters in Va?

      I’ll take your word on the conservatism of the justices. However, it seems to me that conservative justices (at least on the national level) tend to be pretty strict constructionists. They follow the Constitution and don’t legislate from the bench. Is that also true at the state level?

  10. I’m surprised that no one mentioned that Republicans in many state office races were eclipsed in fundraising by their Democrat vanquishers. Because I know someone whose job hinged on the outcome of this race, I noted that Missy Cotter Smasal both outraised ($1,853,815) and outspent ($1,592,331) incumbent state Senator Bill DeSteph (raised $1,146,217, spent $1,047,345) [figures as of Oct 24th]. Michael Bloomberg’s gun control lobby Everytown for Gun Safety is being giving a lot of credit for turning Virginia blue to red by outspending the NRA, and the Virginia Democratic Caucus sent Missy Smasal, a soccer mom with a small business, a whopping $739,000. She campaigned on school building safety as her primary agenda until she began running dirty ads against DeSteph. I’m not complaining about any of this, just pointing out that money played a role in the outcome on Tuesday. DeSteph held on by 2334 votes.

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