It is an amazingly puzzling question why House of Delegates Republicans continue to miss the changes taking place in the body politic when almost everyone else can see them!
Here’s the picture. Two “good government” bills promoted by the Governor and the Democratic minority are assigned to a subcommittee composed of four Republicans and two Democrats: 1) Expanded absentee voting; and 2) A Bipartisan redistricting plan. The redistricting plan has widespread support in the business community where GOP fortunes have suffered of late. The four Republicans oppose both bills, but whether they are right or wrong in doing so, these are again “good government” bills and there is political fallout, not good, attached to the opposition.
The vote will be recorded- an excellent decision by Republican leadership this session- and will be well publicized in statewide press accounts. The electorate welcomes the hope that the incoming Democratic administration in DC will deliver on the campaign mantra of change that includes numerous “good government” issues. Young people especially are tired of business as usual- again, a population segment where the GOP brand is tarnished.
Against this background, one would think that the GOP subcommittee leadership would insure that a meeting was held at a time when all who wanted to attend and demonstrate their support for these bills could easily do so. One would think every effort would be made to avoid doing anything that would add to the criticism that would inevitably follow this vote. One would think that care and attention would be given to every aspect of this politically volatile vote to avoid handing the media or Democrats any other arrows with which to pierce GOP positions. One would think…
Yet with the political equivalent of a death wish, the GOP led subcommittee met at 7:00 a.m. on the morning of Martin Luther King Jr’s birthday to all but demolish for this session both these bills!! BLEEP!!!
Obviously, the amateurish demonstration of legislative power adds to the impression that not only does the GOP oppose legislation that is for the public good, but it wants to try to hide the fact and make it difficult for citizens to participate in the process. And the fact that the state party Chairman is a subcommittee member exacerbates the situation. We have enough trouble facing us in 2009. We need to be digging out, not digging the hole deeper. The first act of wisdom is to recognize that you are in a hole, stop digging it deeper and figure out why you are there.
I acknowledge that reasonable people can differ on the specifics of both these measures. But come on guys, perceptions matter, people do sometimes judge a book by its cover and right now the GOP”s book cover doesn’t look too good and unwise decisions like early morning meetings of this nature don’t improve the vision. As the song goes, “little things mean a lot” and Virginia Republicans need to worry about all of them and avoid any repetition of this sort of “foot shooting” behavior.
Wyatt Durrette is a Director at DurretteBradshaw, PLC and co-founder of the XDL Group. He served three terms in the House of Delegates and was the Republican candidate for Governor in 1985.