As the discussion swirls around the potential ethics violations by Ken Cuccinelli and Governor McDonnell, some of the more deplorable positions the Republicans hold have taken a back seat. Questions of ethics have utility in undermining personal integrity and sowing doubt, but often say little about the larger issues infecting the political ideologies of a party. When attention is drawn to personal issues, it gives everyone else in the party a pass on having to address the more draconian policies they have implemented.
Republicans have a women problem. The party has systematically made the state of Virginia a more dangerous place for women live. Shutting down women’s healthcare clinics, mandatory trans-vaginal ultrasounds, and repealing HPV vaccine mandates top the list of women’s health threats engineered by Virginia Republicans. These policies not only present a long-term threat to the general health of the Commonwealth, they defy common sense.
The corruption allegations surrounding Cuccinelli have been successful in casting doubt on his ability to lead the state. The downside of this is Ken Cuccinelli’s backward social agenda has become a sideshow allowing General Assembly members subscribing to the same mindset to fly under the radar. An excellent example of this is Barbara Comstock (R-McLean) in the 34th District who is up for reelection this year. She has consistently supported reducing women’s health options and has even gone so far as to publicly stating Roe v. Wade should be overturned (http://nbcnews.to/1daDoF2 at 5:00 mins).
The debate over ethics cannot obscure the larger issue of the dangers of Republican leadership in General Assembly. The trade off for scoring points against Cuccinelli has come at the expense of making GOP candidates answerable for backward, and sometimes treacherous, policies. If the entirety of the problems with the Republican Party could be resolved through ethics reform, it would be easy to move Virginia forward in a constructive manner. However, the issues are much more deeply ingrained in the larger psyche of GOP leadership. Addressing these matters must become the top priority going into November.