Activist Bill Wheaton Attacks Tom Davis' Argument that the VA GOP Should Become More Liberal
Conservative grassroots activist Bill Wheaton writes for the Lynchburg Ledger a few times every month. His most recent article, published today, goes right to the heart of the problems plaguing the Virginia Republican Party. While I don't fully agree with his harsh (and unnecessary) personal comments about Congressman Davis and his family- the core of his argument is still very salient. His response goes right at the logic presented by Davis and other "moderates" at the recent meeting of RPV's Northern Virginia Task Force held at the Fairfax County GOP headquarters. Here it is:
The Lynchburg Ledger February 17, 2006, Page 3
Republicans on the Decline
By Bill Wheaton
If recent Virginia special elections are any indication, Republicans need to be very concerned.
Republican losses in Virginia special elections, coupled with the inability of Senate Republicans to discipline Russ Potts for his defection last fall to run as an Independent, indicates to me that the Republican Party in Virginia not only is losing support, but it has lost much of its integrity.
In the last two special elections, one right here in Lynchburg, Republican candidates did poorly against their Democrat opponent.
Democrat Shannon Valentine handily defeated Mike Harrington in Lynchburg, by 58 to 42 percent, for a previously held Republican seat.
In Loudoun County, Democrat Mark Herring defeated Republican Mick Staton in the 33rd Senate District by a whopping 62 to 38 percent, for a previously held Republican seat.
In response to Statonâ€™s loss in Loudoun County, Congressman Tom Davis (R-11th) suggested that Republicans need to move to the political left to win future elections. I think the advice offered by Tom Davis is not only wrong, but is actually the problem.
Tom Davis, who I have known for years, has always been on the far left side of the Republican Party. Similarly, his new wife, Virginia State Senator Jeannemarie Devolites, recently voted with the Democrats in committee on a bill that would require the addition of "sexual orientation" to the state's non-discrimination law concerning state and local government hiring practices. Fortunately, the bill was defeated by an 8 to 6 vote.
Both Davis and Devolites first marriages ended in divorce, under the cloud of an alleged affair. Additionally, Devolitesâ€™ daughter was arrested and convicted of participating in a robbery and is currently incarcerated. Given these circumstances, one cannot help but wonder whether these politicians have sacrificed their marriages and families for their political careers. If so, this is not the type of candidate that will attract core Republican voters who are traditionally more conservative when it comes to family values
It is getting more and more difficult to tell the difference between Democrats and Republicans, and the Republican base is reacting by staying home on Election Day.
I recall back in the early days of the Clinton Administration when conservatives and evangelicals were outraged by the direction the liberal Democrats were taking the nation and they became politically active.
Newt Gingrich put together a strategy called the â€œContract with Americaâ€ which Republican candidates for the House of Representatives across the nation could all run on. I heard Gingrich outline his strategy in 1993 and thought it nothing more than a pipe dream.
Needless to say, it was no pipe dream but it resulted in the Republicans taking control of Congress. The Republicans started off strong for the first couple of years and did some great work like reforming welfare and curbing spending. In fact, the federal deficit was eliminated and a surplus created under Republican Congressional leadership. Bill Clinton claimed credit for eliminating the federal deficit, but it was the spending discipline of the Republicans that got the job done.
Now, 10 years later, Congressional Republicans have become undisciplined in spending, like Democrats used to do. They would routinely add â€œearmarksâ€ to bills after they had been voted on, which were nothing more than pork-barrel spending.
The new House Majority Leader John Boehner is unique as he has never added an earmark to a bill. It is this kind of reform the Republicans need, not the Tom Davis kind.
Republicans are now in danger of losing the House of Representatives this fall, and if they follow the Davis advice, they surely will.
In Virginia, we still have the problem of Republicans voting as Democrats and I believe that is demoralizing conservatives, resulting in Democrat wins.
The Senate Health and Education Committee is known for killing responsible, family-oriented legislation and is still chaired by Russ Potts who routinely votes with the Democrats.
Republican John Chichester chairs the powerful Senate Finance Committee and is responsible for the increase in our sales tax which we now know was unnecessary. This committee recently killed the only bill that would really reform and improve education in Virginia.
SB189, introduced by Senator Steve Martin (R-11, Chesterfield), would actually save Virginia taxpayers in the long run by reducing public school enrollment, creating competition and thus ultimately reducing spending. He argued that some public schools simply are not serving children well and that those kids should have other educational options. His bill would have provided a tuition tax credit.
Senator Russ Potts led committee opposition to the bill, labeling the legislation as a "$89 million assault on public schools."
The teachers union (Virginia Education Association) is one of the most powerful lobby organizations in Virginia and opposes any real attempt to interfere with their monopoly on education by introducing real education reform.
This abandonment of core principles was even seen at a recent Campbell County Board of Supervisors meeting. Sunburst Supervisor Rick Boyer, who campaigned as a fiscal conservative and had just lectured the board on fiscal responsibility, requested a refund for part of their sewer connection fee for a church.
A waiver had been granted for a small church previously because the cost was a hardship on their tiny congregation. Boyerâ€™s request for the refund was not based on hardship, but on the basis that another church had received it.
The board rejected Boyerâ€™s request.
I suppose it is going to take more election losses before Republicans realize they canâ€™t win elections when you canâ€™t tell them apart from Democrats.
Bill Wheaton lives in concord, VA. His email address is firstname.lastname@example.org
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