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Rich Cranwell | Goodlatte puts politics above people

I am disappointed that Rep. Bob Goodlatte and the other Republican members of the Virginia congressional delegation chose to boycott the congressional delegation meeting with Gov. Tim Kaine Feb. 9.
This annual meeting is held to give our congressional representatives an opportunity to work with state government officials to better serve all of us, and to give the people representing us a chance to work together for the sake of everyone in this Commonwealth.

With a horrific economic crisis, multiple wars overseas, rising health care costs and many of our localities facing painful budget cuts to our schools and services, it is inexcusable that any member of our congressional delegation would deliberately boycott this meeting. Not only that, it is childish, irresponsible, and alludes to an adherence to the partisan style of politics that has paralyzed our nation and our Commonwealth for the last eight years.

It is one thing to disagree, but it is entirely another to be an obstructionist based on ideology. For whatever reason, the Republican congressional delegation chose to put partisan politics before the needs of the people, and I would like to know why they felt the need to behave in such a manner.

Goodlatte cited a scheduling conflict as his reason for not attending this meeting. If that was the case, it was Goodlatte’s responsibility to make sure he was represented and contributed at that meeting. Rep.Rick Boucher also had a scheduling conflict, but managed to send his chief of staff to the meeting, and also talked with Kaine the day before to ensure that he was included in the discussion.

It concerns me that Goodlatte will often send a staff surrogate to fairs, fundraisers and other events he cannot attend, yet he was unable to send a representative to a discussion with our state’s governor and his congressional colleagues, whom he will need to work with to help represent all of us better.

Goodlatte had a golden opportunity to set himself apart from his partisan colleagues and attend the meeting. If he truly cared about Southwest Virginia and the Sixth District he just won re-election to represent, he would have stood on his own and, at the very least, sent a representative to that meeting. The fact that he went along with the pack is further evidence that Goodlatte has become a career politician who cares more about following his party and the lead of other Washington insiders than serving the people of this district.

Now is not the time for partisan squabbling. We are in the middle of an economic crisis the likes of which this nation has not seen since the Great Depression. Yet Goodlatte chose to put allegiance to other politicians first, rather than meet with Kaine and his administration to seek out bipartisan solutions to the many problems we face.

Sen. Mark Warner noted that when he was governor, these annual meetings were some of the most important and useful meetings he held, and that the participation of the entire delegation was of the utmost importance. The fact that Goodlatte and his colleagues are not even willing to come to the table shows an arrogance and ideological point of view that are two of the main reasons we find ourselves in this current situation.

I do not seek Democratic or Republican solutions, and neither should any of our elected officials. Rather, we should seek solutions that will work for all Virginians.

Goodlatte’s lack of participation and that of his GOP colleagues is both reckless and dangerous. While our state is affected every day by decisions made in Washington, while thousands of Virginians are suffering and the economic crisis deepens, it is more important than ever that the people representing us on both sides of the aisle work together.

Goodlatte is using as his road map partisan ideology, the same ideology that has not worked in the last eight years and which prefers confrontation over consensus-building. Combine this with the special interests he relies upon to keep him inside the Beltway, and you have a recipe for ignoring the voters.

This unbending attitude and tunnel vision is not what the citizens of the Sixth District, the commonwealth of Virginia and the United States need in this hour of uncertainty.


– Column by Rich Cranwell


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