Is the Virginia GOP Doomed?

Editors’ Note: Excerpted from the Roanoke Times, July 8, 2020.

When state Sen. Amanda Chase announced in February that she would seek the Republican nomination for governor in 2021, a senior Republican legislator put out an unusual statement:

“Amanda just doesn’t have a level of substance, maturity or seriousness that Virginians expect in a gubernatorial candidate,” said state Sen. Mark Obenshain, R-Rockingham County.

It was unusual because legislators usually don’t say such bad things about one another—if they disagree, they usually just point out how wrong someone is, not that they lack “substance, maturity or seriousness.”

Furthermore, Chase is ostensibly a fellow Republican — although she was expelled from the Chesterfield County Republican Committee last year, and refused to caucus with Senate Republicans during the past session — so it’s hard to tell what kind of Republican she really is, other than one who’s apparently hard to get along with. The real question, though, is not whether Chase is truly a Republican, or whether she has what it takes to be governor, but whether she is in the process of poisoning the party she wants to represent.

We direct your attention to the event where Chase spoke Saturday. The event was billed as a rally for Second Amendment rights . . . [when] a speaker asked if there were any racists in the group; . . . a handful of white men raised their hands in Nazi-like salutes. One of them wore on his black T-shirt a logo for the Rise Above Movement, a white supremacist organization. . . . Curt Doolittle, who founded a group called the Propertarian Institute, also spoke, delivering a fiery speech, supporting a possible “escalation of hostilities in what will constitute the bloodiest civil war in human history.” [The group’s literature stated], “Voting simply will not bring about the scale of changes that are needed at this time.”

We direct your attention to the event where Chase spoke Saturday. The event was billed as a rally for Second Amendment rights, but let’s not get hung up on that part, because there are plenty of people who take a strict constructionist view of gun rights who would not abide what transpired just outside Capitol Square. Instead, let’s just quote from the Richmond Times-Dispatch, which covered the event that drew about 250 people:

Later, a speaker asked if there were any racists in the group, posing it as a rhetorical question. But a handful of white men raised their hands in Nazi-like salutes. One of them wore on his black T-shirt a logo for the Rise Above Movement, a white supremacist organization.

Curt Doolittle, who founded a group called the Propertarian Institute, also spoke, delivering a fiery speech. His organization advocates for revising the Constitution, returning power from the federal government to the states and eliminating banking institutions. According to the group’s pamphlet, it supports a possible “escalation of hostilities in what will constitute the bloodiest civil war in human history.”

“Voting simply will not bring about the scale of changes that are needed at this time,” the [pamphlet] states.

Now, mind you, this was not Chase’s event. But it’s an event that she attended and spoke at. That doesn’t mean she believes everything that got said there, but still we must ask: What the heck was she doing there? Because she sure wasn’t denouncing the vile things documented there.

Virginia has now had six Republican governors since Reconstruction — Linwood Holton, Mills Godwin, John Dalton, George Allen, Jim Gilmore and Bob McDonnell. Can you imagine any of them attending such an event? And speaking at such an event? Of course not. Can you imagine any of the Republican nominees who sought the governorship and fell short associating themselves with such an event? Once again, the answer is an emphatic no.

We don’t know what Chase is trying to do here, but she is not coming from — or going to — a place where any Republican nominee for governor has ever been before.

We list all those names to make a point: We don’t know what Chase is trying to do here, but she is not coming from — or going to — a place where any Republican nominee for governor has ever been before. Perhaps that is entirely her point. Holton used his inaugural address to declare that “we must see that no citizen of the commonwealth is excluded from full participation in both the blessings and responsibilities of our society because of his race.” Chase, meanwhile, complains (in an earlier statement) about “erasing the history of the white people.”

Chase may call herself a Republican, but she is very much at odds with the history of the Republican Party — and, as we’ve seen, even much of the Republican Party as presently constituted. This is a problem for her, politically, but it’s also a problem for the Republican Party itself, just in a different way. Does the Republican Party want to be associated with the type of people that Chase is associating herself with here?

We suspect not. We deal with lots of Republicans in our line of work (Democrats, too, but its Republicans we’re worried about here today).

We’ve never heard any of them say or do some of the things that Chase is now doing — which is why they need to call her out. That’s hard to do, of course. It’s easier to say nothing and hope a problem goes away. But silence is also a form of consent — and right now, by their silence, Republicans are allowing Chase to define their party in a way that we know they don’t want to be defined. Those Nazi saluters and civil war promoters should not be encouraged; they should be denounced.

Chase was elected as a Republican, so she’s not some outside figure trying to insert herself into the party. Instead, she’s trying to lead her party to a very dark place.

American democracy is best served when there are two vital parties, one on the left, one on the right, that can debate the policies of the day. It’s also best served if neither of those parties goes too far to either extreme, because democracy works best if the losers can at least tolerate the winners for four years. Virginia Republicans stand at an uncomfortable place. They are losing. For the first time since January 1970, they are completely shut out of power — they hold no statewide offices, they control neither chamber of the General Assembly.

Virginia Republicans stand at an uncomfortable place. They are losing. For the first time since January 1970, they are completely shut out of power — they hold no statewide offices, they control neither chamber of the General Assembly. [The GOP’s] way back to power — especially in a state whose demographics are changing so rapidly — does not run through the crowd that gathered Saturday. On the contrary, it runs in directly the opposite direction.

Their way back to power — especially in a state whose demographics are changing so rapidly — does not run through the crowd that gathered Saturday. On the contrary, it runs in directly the opposite direction.

You can ruminate, if you will, on what’s happening in our politics today that has emboldened a state legislator to stand in the middle of downtown Richmond, holding an assault rifle, at the same event where some are giving Nazi salutes and others are speaking on behalf of a group that advocates “the bloodiest civil war in human history.” But Republicans should not ruminate too long.

 

 



Categories: elections, gun control, Issues, Local, National, politics, press, racism, Voting

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3 replies

  1. Trump and his enablers have changed me from a “liberal” into a “Vote Blue no matter who” but the ugly reality is that Republicans like Chase have ALWAYS been
    a major force in Virginia and MUST be defeated.

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