This year Virginia's senior Senator Mark Warner will deliver the keynote and his almost certain Republican opponent will make one of his rare public appearances. It will be informative seeing if Team Warner laid the groundwork for a more civil and less homogeneous atmosphere than this annual carnival for reactionaries nourishes. Earlier this year, they stumbled out of the block when, despite refusing to commit to Democratic events closer in than 60 days, they accepted the Shad Planking appearance well in advance. Maybe, tied to an old playbook, they failed to notice that last year's Democratic statewide success demonstrated the irrelevance of the event. One would hope that the acceptance came with some assurance that the event would be more civil, sane, and inclusive.
The impact of the "traditional" sign war has diminished considerably since the Kaine and Webb surprises during the past decade. When this became a war of paid "volunteers" it was no longer a genuine indicator of anything more than a campaign bankroll. And if the intent is to make this event relevant, where is the outreach from the Ruritan Club or encouragement from more progressive constituents to draw in displays and support from the Democratic Party, the NAACP, or the LGBT community?
So what will today provide? Boney fish, cold beer, and the themes that Senator Warner will employ to shore up and broaden his own constituency, an impressive coalition of common interests. This could also provide the national bellwether for the Democratic strategy that will be used to counter this year's onslaught by Republican reactionaries against the Affordable Care Act. There couldn't be a more promising petri dish.
George's same old is this: No matter the facts, no matter your past, pretend there were no witnesses or records and that the electorate has selective amnesia. Yearn for a return to a fanciful, nostalgic past that is a combination of shared myth and vision among supporters. It is as if a team of marketing psychologists are crafting the Republican meme to manipulate perception among the easily influenced. Fortunately for us, this is still a small demographic, despite Republican efforts to cripple education in America.
In what Allen's team probably thought was a dual-edged sword, Allen took on the role of fiscally responsible philanthropist to show how a responsible private sector champion could eliminate waste while supporting the common welfare. Unfortunately for him, there is memory of his uncomfortable 2006 appearance in Hampton, Virginia at an NAACP forum where Allen balked at joining the organization when invited. There is another memory of grassroots supporters planting 10,000 or more Webb signs along the approach to Shad Planking. Allen's team simply knew they couldn't organize a competitive effort without paid stooges and feared another Kaine groundswell. Instead, his team (he's never demonstrated this kind of resourcefulness) decided to hand a check (funded by the campaign?), to the Ruritans, a group his base can easily identify with. This was designed to call out Kaine for typical liberal wastefulness. But the Kaine campaign didn't cooperate. Allen's prepared text had to be modified at the last minute, but his team lacked the acumen to avoid calling out Republican Representative Randy Forbes who did not meet the Allen standard for fiscal responsibility. Oh, by the way, Allen's four 4 x 6's didn't come cheap.