According to a recent Blue Virginia article, it’s inevitable that Dick Saslaw will face a primary next year. Before anyone else asks me, no, I’m not running, and in fact, I’ve decided to stay completely out of it. A few months ago, I was frustrated and disappointed that he didn’t represent me well on several issues important to me—campaign finance reform, criminal justice, redistricting reform, to name a few. I was disappointed in him for not being more progressive. I was also disappointed in myself for not having ever paid attention to him before, for not telling him he wasn’t being progressive enough, that I wanted him to vote differently, and not to take Dominion’s or Altria’s money (not that I’ve ever given him money of my own).
I still want him to be more progressive, to embrace nonpartisan redistricting, campaign finance reform, to be more progressive on criminal justice. But also, when I reached out to him REPEATEDLY to tell him all that, to push him to be better (because realistically, he’s likely to be re-elected and represent me for the next five years), I discovered that he was willing to listen about all of my issues, that he offered his help and genuinely wanted to help wherever he could, and that because he has developed relationships with people all over the state, in every industry and every inch of the government, he’s actually often uniquely able to help.
I’ve brought him my worries about Red Terry, when she was being starved while protesting MVP in her tree, my worries about the Virginia National Guard deployed to the Arizona border, my worries about the white nationalist working at Northrop Grumman, a problem with some regulatory changes being made to educational licensing that would affect our local co-op preschool, and he’s always willing to make a call or drop someone an email to get more information or ask someone to fix the problem. I’ve talked to him about ending cash bail, about my concerns over Virginia’s use of solitary confinement, about the Union Hill pipeline compressor station, about Northern Virginians having enough involvement in helping formulate the Governor’s Virginia Energy Plan. I can’t say he’s necessarily fixed or even been willing to fix every single problem, but he never says “no, sorry, nothing I can do.”
Okay, so I admit, I’ve been kind of monopolizing my state Senator. I apologize to the rest of you. But my point is that I will continue to disagree with him about many things, but I also have realized that he’s a good person who’s been a public servant for forty years (that he could have spent doing much more personally profitable things), and that he genuinely wants Virginians to do well. You may not agree, or you may not want to hear that, but it’s the truth.
Vote for him, or vote for whoever “inevitably” challenges him, I understand where you’re coming from either way. Not long ago, I would have been gleeful at the thought of this primary, and I would have already been out knocking doors for his challenger, but I can’t make myself feel excited about this fight right now, so I won’t be working on either side. People have tried to tell me I’m being played, that no politician is ever really your friend, they’re all just cozying up to you to score political points. But I can’t live with that kind of dark cynicism, and I couldn’t be the kind of activist I am if I believed it. As for my own vote…well, the ballot box is private for a reason!