Over two hundred people were in attendance, including our great Attorney General, Mark Herring, and our Lt. Governor and next Governor, Ralph Northam.
I took the opportunity to tell the people gathered there what my campaign is about, and to have some fun in the process.
UPDATE by Lowell: April Moore rips into supposed "small-government conservative" Mark "Let's Block Medicaid Expansion Just to Stick it To President Obama" Obenshain, Mark "Let's Give Dominion Power Everything It Wants" Obenshain, Mark "Transvaginal Ultrasound is Just What the Doctor Did NOT Order," etc. She also notes, correctly, that Obenshain is on the wrong side of our democracy and a liveable planet, that he is "serving the Koch brothers" and their "anti-democracy agenda," and that he wants to do to Virginia "what Scott Walker has done to Wisconsin." Great stuff and so true; go April! :)
I know I'm not the only one unhappy with the state of our politics these days. Here's the change I'd like to see in how our politics are conducted.
Our founders were men of reason. And they tried to set up a system of government in which the people would elect representatives who, reasoning together, would achieve the public good.
Wouldn't it be nice if, in our General Assembly, our leaders would engage in reasoned discussion to find those policies that would lead to the best possible Virginia? Wouldn't it be good if we citizens could discuss our public business in the same spirit?
Some recent criticism of me helps show the gulf between how we discuss issues these days and how the men of reason who founded our nation would have wanted us to discuss them.
This criticism took note of my saying we should act responsibly in the face of the challenge of climate change- took note of it, that is, to dismiss it as a "doomsday message."
Nothing reasonable in such dismissal.
Reason tells us that on scientific questions, we should listen to the scientists. The question, "What's happening to earth's climate?" is a scientific question. And 97 percent of the scientists in the field of climate agree there's a problem we urgently need to address.
When the best understanding that humankind has available to it is sending us such a clear warning, it is not a "doomsday message" to say we should heed that warning. It's simply common sense.
In science, 97 percent agreement means the scientists are virtually unanimous. There is no conceivable justification for any politician - or any other layman, for that matter - to pretend to understand a scientific matter better than the scientists. Or to ignore the scientists either.
Recently I was invited to speak to a group whose purpose is to make the relationship between business and government in Virginia as good as it can be. I share that goal.
At the same time, as I told that group, in our times it would not be right for me to do what most politicians would do with such an opportunity: i.e. tell the audience just what they wanted to hear. I felt it important to say what most needs saying.
Being a strong believer in free markets, I said, I appreciate the role that business has played in making America great. So government policies should not unduly burden free markets.
But I went on to say that, "My concern for Virginia today, and indeed for America, has less to do with how government is interfering with free markets than with how the power of corporate money is interfering with the proper functioning of our democracy."
I then gave an example of what the optimal relationship between business and government would not include:
"It would not include having a giant corporation - a monopoly not held in check by market competition -- buying so much control over Virginia's government that, in the past two years, it has been able to get our General Assembly to pass laws that take literally hundreds of millions of dollars that rightly belong to average Virginians and to put into its corporate coffers."
I was talking, of course, about Dominion Power -- the largest corporate donor to our legislators -- buying what is obviously undue influence over members of both parties.
In this press conference, I focused on the issue that is closest to my heart: climate change, and the obligation we have to protect the earth and the generations to come by acting responsibly now to meet that challenge.
As you'll see, I present this issue in terms of the Golden Rule: do unto others as you would have them do unto you. I do so not only because that captures so aptly the profound moral dimension of our situation, and the profound moral abdication of politicians like Obenshain, but also because it seems a suitable rhetorical strategy in my (Virginia's 26th senatorial) District.
This district is 70-30 Republican, and many of that 70 percent strongly self-identify as Christian. No one who wants to follow the teachings of Jesus, and how understands the situation we now face, could countenance for a moment supporting the climate-change politics of Mark Obenshain and his Koch Brothers backers.
To dramatize those we are "doing unto" either by our actions or our inactions, I brought in a poster -- in its public debut -- containing the faces of my own two little granddaughters, both born just last year. These two, who have brought my own passion on the issue to a higher heat, stand in for all those innocents to come who depend upon us to protect them. (See below)
Here are the text and the video of my statement, delivered yesterday in Harrisonburg to the press and a roomful of enthusiastic citizens.