See below for video of far-right Republican State Sen. Mark Obenshain – the guy who once seriously moved to criminalize miscarriages, and who horrifyingly came within a whisker of becoming the most extreme Attorney General of Virginia this side of Ken Cuccinelli – actually being somewhat amusing, for a change. Although, of course, with Obenshain you don’t really know if he’s serious or not when he “jokes” about things like re-ceding deep-blue Arlington County back to the the District of Columbia. Anyway, Obenshain moved for a unanimous consent motion to introduce “initiating a process to re-cede previously ceded…territory of the United States.” According to Obenshain:
“I, like many of you, took note earlier this week with dismay at the press conference held in our neighboring state of West Virginia. It was a press conference held by Gov. Jim Justice and our own Jerry Falwell, Jr., in which they suggested to Virginia that we should solve our political differences by leaving the Commonwealth of Virginia and joining West Virginia. And I, for one, do not believe that that is a viable solution to our problems. I really believe that we here in Virginia should find a way, and it may be a painful way, to try and work out our differences…This bill deals with the illegal and unconstitutional cession by the federal government of 10 square miles in 1847 to Virginia…[Obenshain proceeded with a history lesson, including that Arlington “was a strong pro-slavery part of Virginia” while his part of the state was abolitionist and “progressive”]…Fairfax County even might be tempted to join Gov. Justice and West Virginia and I don’t want that. So I believe that we need to seriously debate this alternative that would allow 95%, 98% of the land mass of the Commonwealth of Virginia to remain Virginians…I think that this is a solution that, as painful as it may be, we need to explore further…”
Har har har har har!!! Or not. Although, frankly, this little comedy routine was probably the high point of Obenshain’s 2020 General Assembly session, and almost certainly his biggest contribution, which is not exactly saying much in his case.
In the end, the consent of the Senate to introduce Obenshain’s bill was mercifully not granted, and for the moment at least, “arugula-loving, Prius-driving, latte-drinking, Birkenstock-wearing, important economic drivers of the state economy” Arlington remains part of the Commonwealth of Virginia. Phew! 🙂 But if people like Obenshain and other crazies, like Del. Dave LaRock (who really doesn’t like having deep-blue Northern Virginia messing up his dreams of a “red” state), keep it up, maybe Arlington should consider taking its great bars and restaurants, not to mention its economic engine of the state, somewhere else?
On the positive side of this tomfoolery, the responses to Obenshain by Senate Dems were quite amusing. For instance:
Sen. Chap Petersen (D-Fairfax): “Let me just make some points about Arlington County, which is part of Virginia, and a proud part…First of all, [Arlington] is the home of one of our favorite senators. Secondly, half my employees live there; if you own a business in northern Virginia, all the young people live in Arlington now, which means if Arlington left, they’d be have to be paying D.C. taxes, ok, so I’d probably lose them. Number three, it’s the home to some of the finest bars in northern Virginia. [laughter] Restaurants. Number four…it has the highest Starbucks per capita of any community – probably in the world. Number five, if Arlington County is no longer part of the Commonwealth of Virginia, some of the statues in this building you may have to relocate, because that person would no longer be a Virginian. And you might want to think about what I’m saying to you, because if I mention that name, I’ll probably cause this whole building to melt down. So the bottom line is Arlington *has* been a part of Virginia’s history, from the time of the Civil War up until today. I may not always agree with the folks in Arlington. Sometimes I do, but the bottom line is they’ve been great people, great Virginians I might add, and so I will object to your motion; I’m going to keep them here…”
Sen. Dick Saslaw (D-Fairfax): “I appreciate the remarks by the senator from West Virginia. I was wondering, since he’s in the mood for changing things, if he’d be willing to support a constitutional amendment or bill to allow the 8th planning district to become its own state, leaving Virginia looking not much different from the state he was talking about.”
Sen. Adam Ebbin (D-Arlington/Alexandria/Fairfax): “Why he wants to allow our arugula-loving, Prius-driving, latte-drinking, Birkenstock-wearing, important economic drivers of the state economy to go away is beyond me. And I would point out that at the start of the Civil War, West Virginia left us. And I would instead invite West Virginia to join us, to come home, to do what they broke away from. And they too would benefit from being Virginians…So, we’ve solved the Civil War, have them come home. And if you send us off to the District of Columbia, we’re going to have a lot of people smoking marijuana legally. Let’s start with decrim.”
Sen. Dave Marsden (D-Fairfax): [in a whisper] “What do you think we could get for it? What do you think we could get for it?”
Sen. Barbara Favola (D-Arlington/Fairfax/Loudoun): “Well, I am the Senator from Arlington. And I want you to know that we *did* feel welcome until this motion was made…Arlingtonians are full of, you know, love and sharing and all kinds of things. We have the most number of lawyers per capita of any jurisdiction in the entire country. So, if you move forward with this motion, we will tie you up in court from now ’til Kingdom come, you probably won’t get any dollars at all. And, by the way, we also have the Pentagon within our jurisdiction. So, just sayin’, just sayin’…”
Hahahaha, not bad..not bad at all!
Oh, and on a serious note:
LG Justin Fairfax: “…before we take this vote, I will say that things were not going swimmingly for a lot of people before 1848.”
Exactly. Now, back to passing the agenda that Arlington, Fairfax, Loudoun County, Prince William County, Richmond, Charlottesville, Hampton Roads, etc. – aka, the majority of the state’s population and the vast majority of its economy – voted for in 2017 and 2019. 🙂