In the best Vir­ginia tradition

Rappahannock News - - EDITORIAL & OPINION -

Over the 200-plus-year life of the United States, Rap­pa­han­nock County has helped elect some of the United States Se­nate’s most re­spected and in­flu­en­tial lead­ers: James Mon­roe, Richard Henry Lee, Eppa Hun­ton, Carter Glass, Harry Byrd, Sr., John Warner. And on Nov. 6 we have an op­por­tu­nity – per­haps even an obli­ga­tion to our na­tion – to continue in that tradition of send­ing thought­ful, honor­able and wise Vir­ginia gen­tle­man to Big Wash­ing­ton.

But Vir­gini­ans have not al­ways been wise in their se­lec­tion. Not so many years ago, one of Vir­ginia’s U.S. sen­a­tors was voted, in a se­cret poll of peers, to be Capi­tol Hill’s “dumbest.” To re­mind read­ers of that se­na­tor’s name now would not be a very gen­tle­manly thing to do.

Nor is this a very gen­tle­manly thing to say about the op­po­si­tion po­lit­i­cal party: “Let’s en­joy knock­ing their soft teeth down their whin­ing throats!”

Those words in 1994 helped spark the loss of ci­vil­ity and dys­func­tional gov­ern­ment that char­ac­ter­izes Big Wash­ing­ton to­day. John Warner, Repub­li­can se­na­tor at the time, who spent a lot of time here in Rap­pa­han­nock, would have never said any­thing like that. Nor would have Vir­ginia’s first Repub­li­can gover­nor since Re­con­struc­tion, Lin­wood Holton, whose daugh­ter is mar­ried to Tim Kaine, this year’s Demo­cratic se­na­to­rial nom­i­nee.

But Kaine’s op­po­nent, Ge­orge Allen, the Repub­li­can nom­i­nee, ac­tu­ally did say those things. It’s an ex­act quote. And he con­tin­ues to say things that echo more like soundbites for an au­di­tion on an­gry talk ra­dio than as se­ri­ous, cred­i­ble, de­lib­er­a­tive de­bat­ing points for re­spon­si­ble gov­er­nance.

It is no sur­prise, then, that even Vir­ginia news­pa­pers that nor­mally sup­port Republican­s are this year en­dors­ing Tim Kaine – for his learned and thought­ful ap­proach. But a sur­prise it may be for some Rap­pa­han­nock News read­ers to know that I, too, in my al­most 50 years of vot­ing, have sup­ported as many Republican­s as Democrats. Crit­i­cal com­ments in this ed­i­to­rial space are re­served for non-com­pro­mis­ing politi­cians of ei­ther party who forgo pos­si­ble longterm so­lu­tions in the in­ter­est of scor­ing short-term, ide­o­log­i­cally pure and pan­der­ing po­lit­i­cal points.

At my ad­vanced age, youth­ful self­ish­ness has long since meta­mor­phosed into worry about the pos­si­bly in­sol­vent na­tion and de­graded planet that fu­ture gen­er­a­tions will in­herit. Taxes should there­fore be on the ta­ble, and en­vi­ron­men­tal reg­u­la­tions should be no-brain­ers – both knee-jerk­ily ab­hor­rent to Ge­orge Allen. Tim Kaine, not afraid to ask vot­ers to sac­ri­fice and think long-term, would make a dis­tin­guished U.S. se­na­tor in the best Vir­ginia tradition.

In a se­nate elec­tion as down-to-the-wire as this one ap­pears, vot­ers in even “tiny” Rap­pa­han­nock County can make a last­ing dif­fer­ence in the fu­ture di­rec­tion of the United States.

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