Why is right wing crackpot Ken Cuccinelli running for Virginia governor? Well of course because he is the spiritual descendant of Thomas Jefferson:
I am running for Governor of our Commonwealth to advance the same First Principles […] best articulated by Thomas Jefferson in that most famous sentence of the Declaration of Independence: “We hold these truths to be self evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”
No, that wasn’t another Virginia earthquake you just heard — that was old Tom doing flips in his grave. Because it is hard to think of a politician in this country who so thoroughly repudiates the democratic, egalitarian, academic, rational spirit with which Jefferson endowed the American republic — on all the issues that matter, including:
– “All men are created equal”: Our Ayatollah General actually has the cojones to quote Martin Luther King in calling Jefferson’s famous line above “our national creed.” Well of course it is, but to what was King referring? To the inalienable right of coal company owners to avoid environmental and safety regulations if they give you big enough campaign contributions? Hardly.
Few Americans know that the foundation for the US Bill of Rights came from George Mason’s Virginia Declaration of Rights, which still serves as the core of our state’s constitution. Yet Cuccinelli was among those who actually perverted that document to DENY people’s rights by enshrining discrimination against gays within it, through the Marshall-Newman amendment. He has also bullied the state’s colleges and universities to end policies that prohibit LGBT discrimination.
Cuccinelli has been a leader in pushing policies to eliminate the right of women to equal healthcare, treating their uteruses as property of the state, as through his ugly bullying of the state Board of Health to essentially force Virginia abortion clinics out of existence.
Yes, we are all created equal, but in Cuccinelli’s Virginia, the most vulnerable groups would be denied equal protection by the very government established by Jefferson and the other founders.
– “This institution of my native state, the hobby of my old age, will be based on the illimitable freedom of the human mind, to explore and to expose every subject susceptible of it’s contemplation.” — this quote from Jefferson is of course about the University of Virginia, the creation of which Jefferson was so proud, he had it chiseled on his gravestone (while not bothering to mention that he had been president).
U-VA was not just a school to Jefferson — it was an embodiment of the ideal of a well-educated populace governing itself. And there is simply no question that, if alive today, Jefferson would agree that “every subject susceptible of its contemplation” should include the earth sciences.
Yet the signature act of Cuccinelli’s tenure as AG was his assault on U-VA in a dictatorial attempt to silence climatologist Michael Mann, based on pathological climate change conspiracy theories. This act — which cost the university over half a million dollars in legal fees before the State Supreme Court found that the AG’s case had absolutely no merit — was an attack on all that Jefferson cherished: not just intellectual freedom and U-VA, but science itself. As any visitor to Monticello knows, Jefferson not only revered science, but contributed to it with his inventions, including to the fields of agriculture and archaeology. Jefferson once said “Nature intended me for the tranquil pursuits of science, by rendering them my supreme delight.”
Luckily, Jefferson, unlike Professor Mann, was never harassed by a powerful government official demanding
the original and any copies of any written, printed, typed, electronic, or graphic matter of any kind or nature, however, produced or reproduced, any book, pamphlet, brochure, periodical, newspaper, letter, correspondence, memoranda, notice, facsimile, e-mail, manual, press release, telegram, report, study, handwritten note, working paper, chart, paper, graph, index, tape, data sheet, data processing card, or any other written, recorded, transcribed, punched, taped, filmed or graphic matter now in your possession, custody or control.
Indeed, Cuccinelli’s real “First Principle” is to support powerful, entrenched interests against all whom they may deem as real or perceived threats. Yes, he is a fighter for the “liberty” of those powers, but with blatant disregard for the liberties of anyone who may get in their way.
While he may be entitled to devote his life to working as the tool of Big Coal, evangelical Christianity and corporate America, he is not entitled to mislead the public into believing that in so doing, he is following the philosophy of our third president. To leave you with one more Jefferson quote,
Bigotry is the disease of ignorance, of morbid minds; enthusiasm of the free and buoyant. Education and free discussion are the antidotes of both.
In 2013, it is imperative that we choose the gubernatorial candidate of intellectual freedom and individual liberty, and not the proponent of bigotry and backwardness.