A while back, I wrote a post about how Bob McDonnell’s gubernatorial campaign resembled that of George W. Bush’s for president in 2000, in the sense that in each case the candidate’s success in the media and polls seemed to be based more on the perception that he was a good guy rather than a meaningful assessment of what kind of chief executive he would make, based on an analysis of their lifelong records and the substance of their political positions.
In retrospect, of course, it was all too clear by the Fall of 2000, or should have been all to clear to any reasonable person, that if elected that George W. Bush would fubar the country as badly as he did.
I’ll leave it to historians and the many millions of people smarter and more astute than I to analyze exactly what happened and why during the Bush presidency, but long before he became president, George W. Bush had a clear record of incompetence and failure in virtually everything he had attempted as an adult.
Why on Earth was anyone surprised when he turned out to be a failure as President also, leaving the rest of us to grapple with the insecurity, fear and difficulty of living through the worst economy since the Great Depression
So, what do we learn about Bob McDonnell from this?
More than anything else, Bob McDonnell’s past tells us that the most lasting historical legacy of his administration, should he be elected, will probably be the implementation of extremist social policies. Bob McDonnell has always been, and still is, first and foremost a culture warrior.
Need proof? A day after suggesting at a debate that he would not focus on pursuing his conservative social agenda were he elected governor, but would focus on jobs and the economy, Mr. McDonnell gave a speech at Liberty University where, perhaps feeling confident of victory on Nov. 3, he let his guard down and, to loud cheering, defiantly asserted that marriage is between a man and a woman, and that as governor he will tirelessly protect the unborn.
(BTW, lets none of us get into an argument over semantics and pretend that we don’t know what Mr. McDonnell means, i.e., that gay people will burn for all eternity in Hell on account of their deviant sexual practices and that official government discrimination against such people is not only acceptable, it is encouraged. Indeed, Bob McDonnell pursued this exact policy, to the extent he could, as Attorney General. As for abortion, I suspect we will see some of the strictest limitations in the U.S., especially if Ken Cuccinelli is Attorney General. Why would anyone think that two politicians who have spent their entire public lives espousing extreme pro-life positions would finally get into office and not act in a manner consistent with the tenets that have guided them their entire lives? Does that make sense to anyone?)
Mr. McDonnell has praised the economic record and policies of George W. Bush and suggested he would follow a similar policy, were he elected Governor – presumably, tax cuts for the wealthy, reducing government regulation of the financial sector and generally favoring big business at the expense of workers. In the conservative ideology, it does not matter if these policies produce poor results. Lower taxes and smaller government are the goals themselves, and as an ideological matter, low taxes and less involved government are always virtuous, without regard the actual effect such policies may have on the lives of actual people.
Lowell at Blue Virginia has a great post up about looking to California as a predictor of what Virginia might look like as a result of a McDonnell administration following such economic policies:
If Virginia elects [McDonnell], they can look to California as an example of what happens when conservative "starve the beast" economics meets a transitioning 21st century economy: start with gross, across the board underinvestment in public education, from pre-K to city colleges & public universities. Pile on deficits because the government needs to spend on is going to be debt-financed. Watch wages stagnate and unemployment climb even in up business cycles, and then shoot up when the business cycle goes flat, because all the tax cuts and resulting mountains of debt prevent counter-cyclical public sector spending. Don't forge the massive, always-growing inequality (and the resulting increases in political polarization) because the tax cuts are always somehow tilted towards either rich individuals or corporations, or both.
So, when I hear people say they are not excited about voting for Creigh, or that there is an enthusiasm gap, or that they just won’t vote, I just want to tell them to think about it this way:
When you vote, it is not for the sake of the politicians running for office, it is for your own sake.
Get out and vote for Creigh. Not for Creigh’s benefit, but for your own sake.
If Creigh is going to win this race, it will not be because of some magical canvassing or phone-banking operation that we haven’t yet seen;
If Creigh is going to win this race, it won’t be because he is suddenly going to become a smooth orator;
If Creigh is going to win this race, it won’t be because he will suddenly adopt the kinds of Progressive positions that many on the left would like to see;
And if Creigh is going to win this race, it won’t be because the mass of low-information voters out there who are getting their news from the MSM and who are tilting this race McDonnell’s way are suddenly going to get a new flood of information to change their minds.
Creigh will win this race because each of us on our own will have taken it upon ourselves to get out and vote, to get our friends and family out to vote.
It will be because each of is taking personal responsibility for the future of the Commonwealth.
The votes are out there.
Here’s a simple idea. Send an e-mails to five friends today who are not politically involved, and remind them how important it is to vote for Creigh.
Or the Virginia we have begun to take for granted, one that is moving in a inexorably positive and progressive direction, may be no more.