Election Outcomes Do Matter

The outcomes of the many party primaries from yesterday are not known as I write this column. Without any vote counts known to me, I can state with certainty that the Virginia General Assembly will not be the same. With retirements of many of the most senior members including myself and with challengers taking on many more incumbents than I can ever remember before, there will be a new cast of citizens running in the general election this November to become our citizen legislators. Thomas Jefferson thought this churning of elections that brought new people into the process was healthy; he called them a “bloodless revolution.”

Some may remember that several months ago I wrote about a fourth-grade field trip to the historic triangle of Virginia — Jamestown, Yorktown, and Williamsburg — when I purchased in the gift shop a copy of the Declaration of Independence printed on parchment paper. For my young eyes it looked like a real historic document even though it was just a copy. 

I framed my copy of the Declaration in a much-too-small frame that I had painted with the silver paint left over from making plastic models. It hung on the wall in my bedroom for the almost decade I was still living at home. It and the ideas it inspired were part of my dedicating nearly a half century of my life to public service. It leads me to repeat again to the new leaders that will be offering themselves in the general election to remember some of the visions that document offered.

I believe all persons are created equal with inalienable rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. I believe the “we the people” in our constitution has a very real meaning. I believe in democracy. Those are the reasons I have become increasingly concerned over the last few years about real threats to our democracy and why a speech President Joe Biden made to the Nation months ago resonated with me so much.

If you do not remember the President’s speech, I recommend you take the time to listen to it at https://www.cbsnews.com/philadelphia/video/watch-president-bidens-full-speech-at-independence-hall/#x. The President said that “equality and democracy are under assault. We do ourselves no favor to pretend otherwise.” He went on to say that “we must be honest with each other and with ourselves. Too much of what’s happening in our country is not normal. Donald Trump and the MAGA Republicans represent an extremism that threatens the very foundation of our Republic.” He made it clear that he was not talking about all or even a majority of Republicans but rather those who are election deniers and insurrectionists.

The words of the Declaration set a course for our future. Our history has been one of expanding opportunities and inclusion. We cannot let anyone at the state or national levels close the door of democracy. Together, we can overcome the threats to our democracy. Thanks to all who participated in the primaries this week. On to November for even more important elections! Stay engaged.