David Reynolds | Ah, shucks
We can neither confirm or deny that this is what Creigh Deeds said Tuesday, June 9, in his Charlottesville Omni hotel room as the election returns came in showing him routing his two opponents, and now standing just one election away from being the next governor of Virginia. And that is not a bad place to be standing. Especially if your batting average is .900 in ten appearances at the electoral plate. And your only miss was by 0.00015 percent of the votes cast and now you have a second opportunity to face the same pitcher knowing what he throws.
Not too shabby a record for our neighbor from Bath County who just carried the state with 50 percent of the vote and Lexington, Buena Vista and Rockbridge County all by the same landslide margin of 88 percent.
But regardless of what was said in those few quiet minutes of reflection between ending a primary campaign and kicking off a general election, we need to remind ourselves what elections are about. Us. Elections are mirrors. They reflect our collective political thought.
So what did Virginians think on June 9? Their thoughts destroyed two political myths. One myth is that money rules, that you can’t win unless you can match or outspend your opponent. The second myth promoted by cynics is that we are selfish. That is, we vote our identification. And we don’t consider the needs of those outside our classification.
Terry McAuliffe is Exhibit A for Myth One. He put his money and that of his friends on the line assuming that would take care of business. Sorry, the governor’s chair is not for sale. This particular piece of furniture is priceless. However, it is understandable that Terry thought otherwise. Mr. McAuliffe, as you may know, chaired the Democratic National Committee when Bill Clinton was president and was the campaign manager when Bill’s wife went after Bill’s old job. So Terry got carried away with all those dollars he raised and decided to blow it on TV spots in an election where only 6 percent voted. Then he asked Bill to cross over the river to do a little campaigning for him. Well, what happened was that Bill “I can feel your pain” Clinton made his usual mistake thinking that words are enough to sway the voters. His words lost out to Creigh’s deeds.
Barack Obama has provided us with Exhibit A for Myth Two: identification politics leading to classification democracy. The current administration identifies what it believes is good for us, then goes out and classifies the groups which are best served. It assumes that voters only care about their own needs and selfish desires. For now it is working. But nothing recedes like success.
So why did sophisticated urban Northern Virginia with its better schools and grid lock roads go for an Ah Shucks guy from rural Virginia with unclogged highways, yet needing better schools? Simple. Man can think beyond himself. Voters from the better half know what the other half needs. City folks know that farmers may need more help than mother nature can provide. So they enact farm subsidies for this minority population. And white folks care as much about black folks as blacks care about themselves. That is why nine white men on the Supreme Court outlawed school segregation.
Here’s another example of why identification politics is not needed. For years the Commonwealth has moved education dollars from rich areas to the poorer counties and cities using a complex public schools funding formula. No one has objected. I don’t recall anyone in my former county of Fairfax complaining that they ship school dollars to help the kids in Buena Vista.
Identification politics leads to class warfare. And like all wars it is self destructive. The answer: trust the people to think beyond themselves. The man who won on June 9 does. He knows that there is no need to carve up the Old Dominion and then have every region cater exclusively to it own public needs. He aspires to be governor. He believes that you, too, aspire to do greater and better things. America has always been the land of aspiration, if not the land of opportunity.
So, that is this week’s sermon. It applies to those seeking a higher rung on the political ladder, as well as the rest of us down in the trenches.
We will be on vacation for the rest of June checking out if life is better away from this neck of the woods. Of course, you and I know the answer to that question. Nonetheless, it occasionally becomes necessary to reassure ourselves that paradise is here, that there is no place like home. I’ll be back in plenty of time for our big national birthday bash. I believe that it is our 233rd. Not bad for an idea. Here is another idea to keep the big one going: Carry out the 10th Amendment to the Constitution of the United States of America.
– Column by David Reynolds