It appears (here and here) that there are a great many Republican incumbents in the Virginia General Assembly who will be allowed to coast to re-election because no Democrat has come forward to challenge them.
This would be a most regrettable missed opportunity.
In June, 2013, I published here a piece with the title, “A Strategy for Democrats in Very Red Districts.” In that article, I declared that, “the difficulty of winning these seats, paradoxically, presents an important opportunity for Democrats.”
The opportunity is to educate the public. This is important because, even though in the short run, the political battle in America is over who will hold the offices where laws get made, in the long run, the battle is over shaping the public consciousness that determines to whom the people will give power.
Democrats in very red districts are, as it were, “behind enemy lines.” Which gives Democratic candidates a chance to tell some important truths to people who might not otherwise hear such messages.
I am bringing all this up again because my wife, April Moore, has decided to run against state Senator Mark Obenshain in our very red district (the 26th). And because I believe that her campaign represents a strategic improvement over the idea as I originally presented it.
You will be hearing from April herself soon – her official announcement will be on St. Patrick’s Day in Harrisonburg – but in the meanwhile, I’d like to explain her decision to run in the hope that others may yet step forward to seize the valuable platforms available in these races for both houses of the Virginia General Assembly.
April’s passion concerns the issue of climate change.
(This is April in the icy Potomac as part of a “Polar Bear Plunge” to raise funds for the Chesapeake Climate Action Network, on whose board she now sits.)
Climate change is an issue, as Lowell has been saying here forcefully for some time, that may be the most consequential to face humankind collectively in our history. April has been giving talks to groups about this issue, but the word needs to get out much more powerfully.
Meanwhile, Mark Obenshain represents the forces of greed and obstruction that work to block responsible action on this issue. He does the bidding of Dominion Power, and in his almost-successful bid to become Virginia’s Attorney General, he was the recipient of a sizeable hunk of campaign cash from the Koch Brothers.
There are two reasons why April’s campaign message represents an improvement over the strategy I originally proposed.
First, my proposal was that Democrats run in very red districts, as I did against Bob Goodlatte in 2012, to help the voters see what an atrocity the Republican Party has become in our times. I still believe that this is a most essential – perhaps the most essential – truth about America’s current national crisis. But it is a complex truth, requiring that a number of pieces be put together in order for the ugly and menacing whole to be seen. (Putting this picture together will be at the heart of my forthcoming book – a book being a more suitable place to show a big picture than a political campaign – What We’re Up Against: The Destructive Force at Work in Our World, and How We Can Defeat It.)
But April’s message about climate change can rest on the simple proposition, “We should listen to what the scientists- — the people who know the most – are trying desperately to tell us.” It’s a single issue, in that respect, but it also leads directly into several others that help reveal the corrupt force we’re up against.
That’s the second reason that April’s campaign message could be effective: the problem with Virginia’s response to the challenge of climate change is inseparable from two of the most profound, urgent, and visible issues in Virginia politics today.
As we’ve seen in this recently-concluded session, Virginia’s government is largely owned by the plutocracy. The interests of the people are regularly being sacrificed for the big money, as in the recent bill first drafted by Dominion Power.
Although the issue of climate change, tackled directly and by itself, might well trigger the anti-bodies of many habitual Republican voters, the issue of whether our government should serve the people is not a liberal-versus-conservative issue. It is a fundamental American issue.
So also might be the issue of whether Virginia – now ranked 47th among the 50 states on “government integrity” by the non-partisan Center for Public Integrity – should get genuine ethics reform. Not the weak gesture that was just passed.
Koch-Brothers-supported Mark Obenshain – like most of his Republican allies — is on the wrong side of all three of these interconnected issues. And that’s how April will be running against him.
Wouldn’t it be good to strike at this reactionary political opportunist before he gets a chance to become Virginia’s Scott Walker in 2017?
And let me ask all you who care deeply about climate change: wouldn’t it be great if there were a whole squadron of Democrats jumping into the political fray in these red districts? Instead of having these Republican tools of the plutocracy coasting to easy victory, the campaigns could challenge their corruption, and educate the public.
Postscript: April’s official announcement will be at 11 AM, on Tuesday, March17, in the Board Room of the Rockingham County Government Building at 20 East Gay Street, in Harrisonburg. The press will be there. And a good turnout of supporters would help empower the campaign.