Sunday, August 28, 2011

What Happens When You Don't Vote

I usually try to get back to the Commonwealth once a year. I've lived for the past 30 years in the same part of England to which two other Virginia women, Pocahontas (my kinswoman) and Nancy Astor, were condemned; and so I feel that if I don't wiggle my toes in some Old Dominion dirt at least once a year, I'll be pushing up daisies in Brit dirt along with Mrs Rolfe and Lady Astor.

But in 2009, I came home twice, the second time,expressly to vote in the state gubernatorial election. Not that my vote did any good - I voted for Creagh Deeds: nice man, weak candidate.

Virginians have a particularly mad habit of saying one thing and doing another (which drives my English husband around the bend). The real Democratic candidate in 2009 should have been Terry McAuliffe, a clintonista, but a Democrat, nonetheless. However, Virginians balked at a Carpetbagger running for the state's highest office. So what did they do?

They elected a Carpetbagger ... and a Republican.

But this wasn't just any old Carpetbagger ... Jesus, Mary and Joseph, Reconstruction, for the certain dynamics in the South, would have been heaven on a plate if all the occupying Yankees had been like Lil'Bob McDonnell!

First, he wrote a doctoral thesis, basically saying women should be barefoot, pregnant, in the kitchen and submissive to their husband. Lil'Bob tried to brush this away as a youthful indiscretion, but fact was, when he wrote this (for his post-graduate degree at the religious playschool known as Regent University), he was already a married man with a wife (maybe not barefoot, but certainly in the kitchen and pregnant a lot) and in his mid-thirties.

When does "youthful" cease to be "youthful?"

Then, there was this little matter which unfurled during the McDonnell campaign (and at a gun booth as well!)

And then, after all was said and done, one of the first things Lil'Bob did as governor was to insert one cultural foot into his mouth and shove.

Look, we don't need any kind of reminder that the Civil War - that's right, I said the Civil War, not the War Between the States or even the War of Northern Aggression - happened. Hell, we're Southern; as Faulkner says, in the South, the past isn't even past. But, Lordy, someone should have told Lil'Bob that the Civil War ended in 1865. We lost. Get over it. (And, pssst! The war was all about slavery.)

But, you see, Lil'Bob should be all over that shit. Because he won. To the victor, the spoils, and all that.

Our problem is that we got a Carpetbagger of the Chris Matthews variety, from Chris's same area nad neighbourhood around Philadelphia. You know, the spittle-flecked type. The sorts who "forget" a black person is black if he or she is the right kind of black person. For Chris Matthews, that's Barack Obama; for Lil'Bob, that's Sheila Johnson of BET.

Lately, Lil'Bob's latest trick is coyly sponsoring draft legislation which heavily regulate the Commonwealth's abortion clinics.

Anti-abortion advocates have been pushing for two decades to impose new regulations that would treat abortion clinics as ambulatory surgery centers and require that they meet hospital-type regulations. They say such rules will make Virginia clinics safer for women because they will no longer be treated like doctor’s offices.

The regulations require the same strict physical requirements as outpatient surgical centers that would be doing complex and invasive surgery, abortion rights activists said. The new requirements are based on dozens of pages of guidelines for health-care facilities published by the Facility Guidelines Institute, a nonprofit group.

(Pssst again! For "nonprofit group," read "conservative family values.")

Now, I certainly didn't vote for Lil'Bob McDonnell, whom many people in the Republican party and the media are now touting as possible Vice Presidential material; but I can easily see how some people in the media, who didn't know any better, might lump Lil'Bob in with all the other raving lunatice fundamentalist Pentecostal types who charm snakes, speak in tongues and believe we are in End Times - people like Michele Bachmann or Rick Perry.

In fact, Joan Walsh is going into meltdown on Rick Perlstein's Facebook wall about Jimmy Carter, trying to curry favour with Perlstein by lumping what these myopic media elitist wannabes perceive to be Carter's conservatism, likening it to his Baptist religion - Southern, protestant and fundamentalist. Walsh even concludes that a good enough reason for Carter hatred is the fact that Michele Bachmann formerly supported him in another life.

(Well, Joan's gal, Hillary Clinton, started out a Goldwater babe, and once upon a time Rick Perry was not only Al Gore's BFF, but his campaign manager, so do we hate these people too?)

I'm sure Joan would like to lump Lil'Bob into that pejorative pack of Dominionists too, except that she can't because he's not.

Lil'Bob belongs to Joan Walsh's ethnic and religious dynamic. Begorrah! He's an Irish Catholic lad from a working class neighbourhood in Philadelphia. Like Joan. Like Tweety.

Recently, Lil'Bob addressed the graduating class at my alma mater, the University of Virginia. It brought back memories of when I took my degree there. That was in 1976, the bicentenniel year. A Republican was in the White House. Jimmy Carter was running for President. The governor was Mills Godwin, who was elected as a Democrat, but who converted to the GOP halfway through his tenure. I remember when he was introduced, my mother told me the audience had to stand, and they did. All except my father, who remained in his seat, with his right hand raised and clenched in a fist, except of the stiff middle finger.

But that was then, and this is now. McDonnell gave the graduating class some timeworn, if not trite advice, which, upon reading this, seems adverse to his Republican principles:-

Follow the Golden Rule. Do unto others, as you'd have them do unto you. Help and serve your neighbor. Be kind and generous to others. Take responsibility for others, and make no excuses. Give back to your community generously. Live today well. Do not worry about tomorrow ... Always vote ...


That sounds positively Democratic. In fact, it sounds liberal to the point of socialistic. So socialistic, that I almost wonder if Lil'Bob meant, at the end, that these kids should just vote, as in "just do it," or that they should vote for the GOP?

Who knows? This is the enigma about Bob McDonnell. His policies stink, but he's never been anything less than respectful to the President - moreso than a lot of politicos and pundits from our blue side of the fence. He dismissed birtherism as nonsense and said people should focus on the President's policies and not his character. He's taken government money and publically thanked the President for any help and aid offered the Commonwealth.

Do I want to see McDonnell out of the Statehouse? Yes. I'm bloody glad he's only got one term, and I'm counting the days. Do I want to see him out of politics? Goes without saying. And I certainly don't want to see him on a GOP ticket in 2012 or even heading one in 2016; but Bob McDonnell is what happens to a state when people can't be assed to go to the polls and vote, for whatever reason.

However, I have to say that Virginia could have come off worse in this situation. At the end of the day, Bob McDonnell is no Scott Walker.

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