Home National Politics This Week’s Elections and Republican Overreach

This Week’s Elections and Republican Overreach


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Andy Schmookler is running for Congress in the 6th Congressional District of Virginia, challenging the incumbent Congressman, Bob Goodlatte.  An award-winning author, political commentator, radio talk-show host, and teacher, Andy moved with his family to Shenandoah County in 1992.  He is a graduate of Harvard University and holds a PhD from the University of California at Berkeley.

This week’s elections brought generally good news to progressives and Democrats, and bad news to Republicans, but our Virginia was an exception to the larger trend: the Republicans now control both legislative houses in our state, as well as the governorship.

I see the significance of both the national results, and of the Virginia results, in terms of Republican overreach.

Elsewhere, as has been widely observed, the electorate rejected the extreme policies of today’s Republican Party:  

1) In Ohio, they repealed a law stripping working people of their rights, passed at a time when the power of labor is already but a shadow of what it was when the American middle class was thriving.

2) In Mississippi, voters rejected a proposal that would have been the most profound assault on the rights of people to control their reproduction yet seen.

3) In Maine, voters rejected an effort to eliminate same-day voter registration-defeating their governor’s contribution to the larger Republican effort to prevent people from groups that generally vote Democratic from exercising their franchise.

4) In Arizona, voters recalled the state legislator who was behind the state’s harsh anti-immigration law.

Such is the nature of the spirit that animates today’s Republican Party that it habitually overreaches. It knows no restraint. There is a fanaticism and an intensity in this force that recognizes no limit. This is a spirit, history shows, that is not only destructive, but that inevitably leads to self-destruction, and to the destruction of those things it ostensibly seeks to serve.

That’s why the Bush presidency – which was dedicated above all to American dominance and to the feeding of greed – had the ultimate effects of damaging American power in the world and bringing the American economy into the worst economic catastrophe since the Great Depression.

Republican overreaching in the aftermath of their major sweep in 2010 is now reaping the inevitable bitter harvest of a backlash from the sane American mainstream.

Why was Virginia different? Because, I suggest, the Democratic-controlled state Senate has stood as a barrier to Republican extremism. Cuccinelli and McDonnell have overreached in some ways, but the Democrats have been able to block legislative overreach.

Virginia voters have not yet seen the full display of the Republican spirit’s drive to the extreme.

But that may be about to change. Now, with the Republicans in effective control of the whole government, Virginia’s Republicans will be able to follow in the footsteps of Walker’s crew in Wisconsin and Kasich’s in Ohio.  

Perhaps the Republicans of Virginia will learn the lessons of those examples-with a Walker recall movement looking strong in Wisconsin, and the people of Ohio regretting their choice of Kasich over the Democrat, Strickland. But I doubt it:  today’s Republican spirit seems impervious to such cautions.

And if McDonnell, Cuccinelli, and their allies in the legislature do rush headlong toward extremism, it will only be a matter of time before the backlash imposes the costs for such overreaching.  

If the examples of Ohio and Wisconsin provide any guidance, indeed, this week’s bad news for Democrats in Virginia – loss of control of the Senate – may be the prelude for strong Democratic advances just a year from now in the crucial elections of 2012.

In my own race against the 20-year incumbent, Bob Goodlatte, for the Congressional seat from Virginia’s 6th District, I’m betting that this week’s otherwise disappointing Virginia results   — along with the growing public awareness of how the Republican money power is making war on the American middle class, and the general revulsion at how politics is being played out in Washington — will help provide a wind at my back.

To learn more about Andy, please click here for his website, or follow him on Facebook and on Twitter.


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