Monday, October 24, 2005

Boston Globe: Reading the Race in Virginia

The tactics described in this piece, which captures well the reliable strategy that Kilgore seems to have adopted from the 2004 presidential campaign, are known to be reprehensible. Coverage of the election has shown that the appeal to popular fears are turning voters in Virginia off and helping to diminish faith in the electoral process. I hope that the recent progress made by the Kaine campaign will translate into a victory, if only because it may help to discredit the tactics that seem to be the center of GOP strategy.

I believe that Virginia, as a microcosm of the nation, gives a good model of our political reality. The urban centers tend to be more moderate and provide balance between the parties but the volume of conservative hardliners who all vote Republican mean that the state GOP remains a power that is hard to temper. The most apt comparison between Virginian and national politics is the marginalization of the independent candidates. Russ Potts, a responsible and reasonable Republican, has refused to embrace empty rhetoric, but cannot get past the two party behemoth to provide a real alternative for conservatives.

This is an important election for Virginia as it will determine whether the progress towards fiscal stability will continue. But, like all other elections, it is also important because it can teach the voters about themselves. If the voters of Virginia reject the tactics of alienation and fear, then perhaps the nation will have some hope. Our political system operates in such a way that we will never have perfect options, but we do have meaningful choices to make. I hope that Virginians and Americans will start making better choices about what values actually matter in picking leaders and what sort of civic life we are willing to lead. We have a chance to start doing better on November 8.


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