Getting to the Essence of Governing in the Public Interest (or Not)

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    I have met and known many politicians. Nearly all had good intentions, were fairly well accomplished, and did  a number of good things in office. For many of them, I had considerable excitement at first. But often there is disappointment. I am not so naive I expect always to get my way. Rather disappointment, even disillusionment, is rooted in the electeds often forgetting why they ran to serve us in the first place: Making their locality, or district, or state a better place. Don Langrehr is different. He remembers he is a public servant, a steward of the town’s resources, and a leader of its people. This diary is about something pretty extraordinary, especially in this economy. It is how Don helped transform our local government. Our town has been run so well in recent years, it has almost become ordinary, the expected, the taken-for-granted. I’ve already told you about CNN and Forbes naming Blacksburg  as one of the nation’s best managed towns.I think the video above captures it. Watch the video segment to the end… and then join me after the fold.

    What a difference from the controversy-strewn years just before Don ran for town council! It is not that there has been no controversy since. We do not have a perfect town. BUT Blacksburg is beautifully run. Its leaders and representatives, listen to and respects the citizens, and are responsive each and every time I have had to contact a town office for something. That’s true for everyone with whom I have spoken. You can easily forget what things were like before, when one questionable decision after another was handed down by council.  

    And that is probably why things are so quiet electorally here. Until last week, it had been almost inconceivable that a Know-Nothing/Do Nothing candidate with no accomplishments worthy of a HoD candidate could compete with one who had done everything right, a candidate with known results and a reputation for integrity and exceptional government service to the citizens.  They did not think the election could be bought.  They still believe the better candidate can win.  And so do I. A look at what Langrehr brings to this candidacy illustrates what I mean.

    After all, civic  leadership isn’t about racking up another notch on a belt. It’s not about power plays or rigging elections through malicious gerrymandering to wipe out any representation Democrats have in the HoD, without which this joke of a Yost candidacy would not be possible.  It is about citizens and leaders together, forging a coalition to accomplish together things that could not be achieved otherwise.  

    The Roanoke Times endorsed Don Langrehr for the House of Delegates District 12 position.  Said the Times:


    In balance, we favor Langrehr, whose two terms as a Blacksbug Town Council member give him greater breadth of knowledge on issues such as transportation, land-use planning and economic development.

    Yes, Don Langrehr has the knowledge to lead.  (His opponent does not.) But this race is about much more than knowledge, though that is important.  You do not build a town with the list of accomplishments in the accompanying video by accident. It requires a group of constructive, cooperative, sound and prudent leaders who both understand and practice good stewardship.

    Meanwhile,most Republican representatives and aspiring GOP candidates in Virginia today, including Joseph Yost (R, HoD 12 Candidate) and Dave Nutter (R, Senate 21 candidate), run on a platform of nihilism. They pretend to be “jobs candidates, when there is no jobs Republican running on this side of the state.  They all run on proposals which will COST JOBS.  

    But they simultaneously also imply that they will dismantle everything most Americans value.  Along the way. they “show” that government doesn’t work by miscarriage of their sworn duty to the citizens. Work in bad faith. Throw money at corporations and the rich, while stiffing 98% of Americans, stealing their pensions, shuttering their schools (or giving parts of schools away to charter operations, robbing them of their homes).  The current crop continues to delight in the national GOP hijinks and brinksmanship.  Representative government?  Seriously?  For the GOP it is “pay to play all the way.”  

    Were it otherwise, the proposals coming from the House and Senate GOP would be vastly different.  All their efforts are focused upon the Big Lie: Bruce Bartlett, Reagan’s former economist,  has just admitted that the notion that deregulation begets jobs was made up.  But wingers keep riding that sleigh right into office.  Combined with the year-after-year tax mantra, there are no two tactics more purposed to drive government into the ground.  And yet every election time, Republcians (and a few Dems) begin the chant.  It’s a hoax on the American people.  Candidates should be held accountable. That is why the drown-government-in-the-bathtub types are seeing backlashes in WI, OH and FL, among other places.  In Raleigh’s Research Triangle (RTP) recent elections drove much of the Tea Party crowd from local offices.  Now to do likewise for higher offices. You cannot have job growth without public investment.  You cannot have excellent schools without both doing the sound things AND paying for them.  You cannot pretend to serve the people when you do not.  That is the heart of the difference between Democrats and Republicans. It is the fundamental difference between Joseph Jost and a quality candidate like Don Langrehr.

    When our state must address job growth, unemployment, education, transportation, health care, revenue shortfalls caused by years of ideological and reckless tax cuts (advantaging disproportionately the wealthy and corporations), who would you want in the HoD?  The Know-Nothing/Do-Nothing opponent candidate utters Club-for-Growth mantras (tax cuts; more deregulation) and pretends to care about jobs?  Or the only candidate running in the 12th who has actually produced jobs, hundreds of them?  Don Langrehr has shown that growing our state with its many complex issues takes experienced, dedicated, ongoing effort.