Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Virginia retreats into the Dark Ages as McDonnell wins the governor's office

The results are in and true to form, Virginia voters chose to hang on to the outdated values of misogyny and
homophobia, by electing Bob McDonnell as our next governor. I will never understand the mentality of my fellow Virginians. Many of the people I spoke with today didn't even know it was Election Day.

This race should have been a no-brainer from the beginning. The trend toward a more progressive political climate was set in motion over a year ago when the Democratic National Committee (DNC) pulled out all the stops in Virginia to get out the vote. When first-time voters showed up with unprecedented force to help elect Barack Obama, political talking heads proclaimed that Virginia was now a swing state.

The DNC and the White House were eager to do the same for Creigh Deeds in his campaign for the governor. Deeds, for some inexplicable reason, turned down their offer of help. As a result, his middle-of-the-road, fence-straddling, non-committal, milquetoast mentality cost him the election.

Virginians tend to be reactive rather than pro-active in their voting habits. Historically, the political trend in Virginia is to react to the presidential elections by electing the opposite party for governor. They don't vote for anything in particular so much as they vote against whatever threatens to take them out of their close-minded comfort zone. With stronger leadership and a better strategy and from the Deeds camp, which should have included a "yes" to some much needed help from some of the most successful politicos in the business, this cycle might have been broken.

But Deeds' arrogance is only partly to blame for his loss. Virginia's fair-weather Democrats are also to blame for the Old Dominion's return to the Dark Side. We have elections every year in Virginia -- we have for a very long time. They aren't always the big ones with lots of star power and national attention. Those are the fun elections, the ones everyone wants to be part of. During the years in between we have the boring school board, city counsel, mayoral, House of Delegate and gubernatorial elections that each take place at different intervals, not to mention the U.S. House and Senate elections.

The bottom line is that once a year Virginians are expected to put down their beers, turn off their Wii's, laptops and TV's, get off their asses and vote. Today, history repeated itself as Democrats across the commonwealth, who are always less likely to turn out for off-year elections, once again blew it off.

Say what you want about the GOP, but they are dedicated. They show up at the polls every year, rain or shine, to exploit our laziness and we have only ourselves to blame.

If progressives ever hope to move Virginia into the 21st century, we have to be more dedicated to achieving our vision of a more fair and democratic future than conservatives are in their dedication to holding on, with a death-grip, to our shameful and bigoted past.

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