Home Virginia Politics Why Democrats Are Better Off Not Attending the Shad Planking

Why Democrats Are Better Off Not Attending the Shad Planking

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The annual Virginia political tradition, the Shad Planking, is being held tomorrow, and Ken Cuccinelli for one is “[l]ooking forward to gathering with democrats [sic], republicans [sic] and independents [sic]…” Except for one problem (other than Cuckoo’s atrocious spelling and grammar): as this article points out, there won’t be many Democrats there. Why not? I’d say that Mo Elleithee – someone with more experience in Virginia politics than just about anyone – sums it up very well:

Shad Planking is a Virginia tradition that has totally and completely and utterly outlived its usefulness…There are much better ways and much more productive ways to campaign in rural Virginia than going to an event where there are more Confederate flags than there are undecided voters.

See above for just one example of a Confederate flag at the Shad Planking (photo from the Richmond Style Weekly in 2011). Having attended a few of these myself, I can definitively say that this is not an aberration. As I wrote back in April 2009, following that year’s Shad Planking (which I attended):

The crowd was overwhelmingly Republican, as it always is at Shad Planking, including lots of Confederate flag stickers, “no card check” stickers, some kind of pro-fossil-fuel energy coalition, and battling gun booths between the NRA and the VCDL, which believes the NRA is too wimpy I guess. There was also a Ron Paul booth with “Rally for the Republic,” “Liberty or Death” and “Calling the GOP back to its roots” signs. I’m not sure what those “roots” might be, and I’m kind of afraid to ask.

So, why should Democrats attend this thing, when its political spectrum ranges from right of center to far right to REALLY far right to…Neo-Confederates? Got me. It’s not like Democrats are going to win any votes by attending these things, and it’s not like it’s a good use of a candidate’s precious time. And no, it’s not “anti-rural” to skip the Shad Planking, unless the argument is that this event is representative of most rural voters. I strongly doubt that is the case. I’d also note that Creigh Deeds didn’t attend the 2009 Shad Planking, and he’s certainly not anti-rural (he hails from a beautiful, rural part of Virginia). Anyway, let Ken Cuccinelli and his “clones” (as our next Attorney General, Mark Herring, calls them) – Mark Obenshain, Rob Bell, etc., plus all the other right wingnuts (e.g., Pete Snyder, Scott Lingamfelter, Corey Stewart) – enjoy themselves tomorrow. They’ll no doubt feel right at home among all the Confederate flags, Tea Party signs and stickers, etc.

  • The Richmonder

    Forget Waverly: there are 1.2 million people in the Richmond Metropolitan Statistical Area.  We should rent Brown’s Island in Richmond and throw a huge party celebrating democracy.

  • I’ve gone to several Shad Plankings and here are the pros of the event:

    – Shad. Many people dislike shad. I really like it. Many people are wrong.

    – The Virginia Diner. A state institution. Best peanut pie in the state.

    – The Surrey House. About half an hour away, but I recommend everything on the menu. The She Crab Soup is worth the trip.

    Sadly, there are also cons:

    – Neo-Confederates.

    – Gun nuts.

    – Radical Tea Partiers.

    I think Virginia Democrats need to find a way to establish an event that combines the best features of Shad Planking and the Southside community in the area (the food) without the racism of the far right.