According to a poll late last week by CNN/SSRS, Americans overall believe that the most important issues facing the country today are (in descending order): 1) “The coronavirus pandemic”; 2) “Political divisions in the country”; 3) “The economy”; 4) “Racial injustice”; and 5) “National security.” Among Republicans, it’s more “Political divisions in the country,” “National security” and “the economy” than “the coronavirus pandemic” or “Racial injustice,” but it’s interesting what you do NOT see on that list…basically, almost any hot-button “social issues.”
It’s interesting to compare that CNN poll to straw poll results from the recent Conservative Political Action Conference – attended by some of the most activist/right-wing folks in the country – which found the top priorities to be: 1) the totally bogus issue of “election integrity”; 2) “constitutional rights,” which of course we all support, but we can guess which parts of the constitution these hard-right activists are focused on; 3) “immigration/border wall”; 4) “reopening the economy” (note – they don’t say “the economy” or “strengthening the economy,” but *reopening* the economy, which of course is what everyone wants…but to do it safely and responsibly, so it doesn’t kill people AND hurt the economy; 5) “Second Amendment” (that one’s not surprising, and presumably is also contained in the “constitutional rights” response); 6) “Taxes/Budget/Spending” (e.g., they want less of all those things, except of course they don’t want the military budget cut, or their Social Security or Medicare, or funding for roads and bridges, or funding for…anything, really); 7) “National Security/Foreign Policy”; 8) “Dignity/Pro-Life” (it’s kind of surprising this one’s so low, but maybe that’s part of “constitutional rights?”).
With that context in mind, check out the following ad by the Travis Hackworth, the right-wing Republican nominee in the upcoming Senate District 38 special election on March 23 (to replace Ben Chafin, who passed away from COVID-19 complications on January 1). In this ad, the reasons given to vote for Hackworth are, as follows:
- “He is pro-gun, he is pro-god…he’s gonna fight for us, for coal mines…he’s pro-life and he’s gonna defend our religious freedoms. This is definitely the guy that we need in the Virginia Senate.”
- In contrast, the woman in the video says that one of her friends “said that she had gotten a mailer from California from his Democrat [sic] opponent and that she is going to be pro-abortion and she’s going to tax churches, so it definitely sounds like we need to get out and vote for Travis on March 23.”
So clearly, what Hackworth’s trying to do is to rev up the hard-right Republican “base” in what is, presumably, going to be a VERY low-turnout special election. Which actually makes sense purely from a strategic point of view – push the “hot-button” issues to get the “base” fired up, while demonizing the “Democrat” (sic) opponent. Of course, note what Hackworth does NOT talk about in this ad? Basically, anything that would actually make people’s lives better in SD38, such as: defeating the COVID-19 pandemic; getting the economy back on a strong footing; better education, transportation, health care, etc.; protecting the environment against the climate crisis and other threats; transitioning to a clean energy economy, given that fossil fuels are both environmentally disastrous and also increasingly non-competitive/uneconomical.
In stark contrast, the Democratic nominee – Laurie Buchwald – in this deep-red (75% Trump-22% Clinton) district focuses on the following priorities, all of which are 100% reality-based and would actually HELP the people of SD38, unlike what Hackworth’s ranting about:
- “We need leadership who is ready, day one, to help lead our Commonwealth and region out of this pandemic and into better days. That starts with wearing masks and practicing social distancing, but includes having a clear, concise vaccination distribution strategy that relies on local infrastructure to deliver vaccines where most needed.”
- “Aside from addressing the glaring healthcare challenges that the pandemic has exposed, we need to protect Medicare and Medicaid to ensure that our citizens have adequate coverage. I was very proud of our late Senator Chafin’s vote to expand Medicaid. And in that vein, I will continue to fight to expand healthcare opportunities across our region.”
- “Government doesn’t create jobs, but it can create an environment that encourages job growth. That means supporting our struggling small businesses to make sure they have the means necessary to expand if they so choose and paying our workers a livable wage so that they don’t have to take a second or third job to keep the lights on.“
- “One of the many things exposed by COVID-19 has been the vitally important role teachers and educators play in our society. We have got to pay our teachers a competitive salary to keep the best and the brightest here in Virginia. It is inexcusable to have teachers living in Virginia but commuting to Tennessee to teach because of better pay. Our children deserve more. And if we want to keep them here after graduation, we have got to ensure that our education system is second to none.”
In sum, the contrast between these two candidates couldn’t be greater: 1) Hackworth is focused on highly divisive social issues and on firing up the hard-right base, while doing *nothing* to actually help people in SD38; 2) Buchwald is focused on four main things – defeating COVID19, expanding healthcare, helping small business/job growth, improving educational opportunities – all of which would greatly help the people of the district. Which means that, if you live in SD38, this SHOULD be an incredibly easy choice, no matter what your political orientation – vote Laurie Buchwald and send someone to Richmond who will bring people together while fighting relentlessly to make your lives better!