Thursday, April 9, 2009

Creigh's unifying vision

An excellent article from The Flat Hat, the student newspaper of the College of William & Mary, covers the William & Mary Young Democrats 12th Annual Fundraising Banquet from the other night, where Creigh Deeds was the keynote speaker.

Karyn Moran and Dorothy McAuliffe also attended, representing their respective spouses.

Blogs and bloggers tend to focus on the tactics and atmospherics of these races, as opposed to the substance. There’s good reason for this: the substantive issues are generally boring, since in the context of a primary we generally agree with all the candidates more than 90 percent of the time, and where there are differences among them they tend, for most people, to be on the margins. Oh, I understand that for activists, Brian Moran’s position on the Surry coal fired plant is the end-all and be-all, and in the nitty-gritty world of policy, they may be right, but I don’t think it is going to be the deal-maker or deal-breaker come June.

But political tactics, gossip, speculation, money and gossip, now that is interesting stuff, not to mention the endless hours of vicarious thrills. Did I mention gossip?

It took a well-written article in W&M's college rag to get me focused back on why we are all going through this election, and to remind me why Creigh -- notwithstanding his current position in the polls, and notwithstanding his first quarter fundraising which is almost certain to trail his opponents, if only because he has had one-third of the time in which to fundraise – is the candidate to watch in this race, and the candidate who, despite it all, has momentum heading into this critical five-week period.

Moran and McAuliffe have plenty of plans and position papers on all kinds of issues. Creigh will eventually have them, too, I’m sure. But if Moran and McAuliffe have both conspicuously lacked something throughout this campaign, it is a convincing vision that ties the entire Commonwealth together, and therefore, a corresponding rationale for why they both want to be governor or ought to be governor.

Brian Moran, I'm sure, can talk intelligently about the need to build more roads to people in Fairfax, or about clean coal to folks in Southwest. The question is, can he talk about Northern Virginia’s transportation issues in Southwest Virginia, and about coal to folks in Fairfax, the same exact way? Does he have a unifying vision? And if he can do so, does he choose to do so?

If he has, I haven’t heard it yet. I harp on this issue, but I have yet to hear a convincing explanation from Brian Moran of why he wants to be Governor. What I’ve heard his say is that he wants to be Governor because we must win the next election. It’s a non sequitor.

Terry McAuliffe want to bring change, but he has utterly failed to explain why his change is helpful, other than representing something different simply for the sake of doing something different.

But back to the Creigh and this wonderful article about his speech at William & Mary. What struck me about this article is the way the issues on which Creigh has been concentrating into a pragmatic, coherent, unifying, progressive and powerful vision for the Commonwealth for the next four years and behind.

It is pragmatic because it is achievable, even with the GOP in control of the HoD; it is coherent because the main elements tie into and lend support to one another; it is unifying because it seeks to break down the regional divisions in the state that – ahem – another candidate (I’m looking at you, Bob McDonnell) would exploit; it is progressive because its ultimate goals are economic growth and justice, a cleaner environment and a more educated citizenry, which in turn serve as a foundation for a free and pluralistic society in which equality and fairness for all citizens can thrive; and it is powerful because it is a vision of hope and advancement, not one based in fear and division.

Please read the article – I don’t do Creigh’s plans or his plain-speaking descriptions justice with my lame prose – but here is how it seems to be shaping up:

1. Transportation is the most important issue the next Governor needs to address.
While tough economic times grab the headlines, the fundamental and difficult problems that we have faced for the last 10 years have not gone away, and transportation has been the thorniest of them all. Yes, people affected by the Bush Recession need help and care, but transportation is a threshold issue that can help solve many other issues going forward because it is an essential element of economic growth. Fix transportation, and lots of other problems down the road become much easier to address.

Creigh’s main point about transportation is that we need to deal with it as a statewide issue, not a regional one. Southwest and Southside need to understand that NoVA and Hampton Roads require more roads and more mass transit if they are going to continue to grow and develop if they are going to continue to be engines of economic growth for all of us. Our urban areas need to understand the critical need for broadband, roadways and other infrastructure development in the rural areas of the Commonwealth to drive development in those areas, so they can contribute more to Virginia’s well-being and growth in the future.

2. Energy conservation and alternative fuel innovation.
“There are lots of things we can do to conserve energy, and I think we can reduce our consumption by somewhere between 15 and 25 percent if we put our minds to it,” Creigh told the students, adding, “We’re not going to conserve our economy the whole way forward. We’re going to have to develop the next generations of alternative and renewable energy.”

Creigh has spoken often of his plan, modeled on North Carolina’s research triangle, with respect to developing new energy technologies. “Now I’m not suggesting that we need a physical research park. I am suggesting that we need a plan. We need to plant that seed right now to secure our economic future.” Creigh points to the world-class research universities already in the state’s system, including, but not only JMU, UVA and Tech, as forming the core of this research.

3. Education and building up the community college system.
“If we use the community college system as our tool to build the smartest work force in the world — because a community college is within an hour’s drive of every single Virginian — we build smart workers everywhere.”

With all this in mind, if you feel so inclined you can donate to Creigh’s campaign through an Act Blue page I have set up, which you can reach through THIS LINK, or of course through Creigh’s website –

We now return to you to your regularly scheduled blog reading about tactics, gossip, speculation, money and gossip.

1 comment:

  1. I couldn't agree more with this post. I was at the event and Creigh spoke with great passion and pragmatism. I think the William and Mary Young Democrats had a great event, and Creigh really engaged the students and even the more jaded political activists.