Monday, April 20, 2009

Eyes of the nation turn ...

Virginia has captured the nation's attention in recent years as it has moved slowly but steadily into the Democratic Party's territory. Both of our members in the United States Senate are Democrats; our current governor is a Democrat; prominent Virginia Democrats are given the national spotlight at every opportunity; and for the first time in decades, the Commonwealth sided with the Democratic Party's candidate for president over the Republican candidate. Many would argue that Virginia has made a full transition from Red State to Blue State.

Now, in a year when no national elections are taking place except for a handful of special elections, Virginia will elect a new governor. As I noted in an earlier blog, there are three Democrats running for governor: former Democratic National Chairman Terry McAuliffe; State Senator R. Creigh Deeds; and Brian Moran, former Chairman of the Virginia House Democratic Caucus. The presumptive GOP candidate, former Attorney General Bob McDonnell, currently holds at least a ten-point lead over each of the Democratic candidates in head-to-head matchups in the polls; however, I believe we can safely expect that lead to shrink once the Virginia Democratic Party unites behind one candidate at the primary on the ninth of June.

I've never joined a political party in my life. I've always believed that ideology should define our political choices, not loyalty to any one party, or even any one candidate. If your "party" or candidate disappoints you, then you should always feel free to choose another one. So, when people talk about a state leaning "Left" or "Right", I tend to define it by the issues that state supports, and not so much by its elected officials.

Virginia has an opportunity to take a national lead in defining ideology. Pundits across the country will speculate on what our choice for governor will say about our beliefs and values. At the moment, there is a certain amount of uncertainty about which way we lean. Virginia supported Barack Obama for president, but so did many self-professed conservatives. It was more of an indictment on the Republican party, I felt, than on conservatism itself. People who say that conservatism has "failed" should reexamine the accuracy of that statement.

Conservativism isn't "evil", as some people think. Historically, conservatives were more likely to stand up for the environment, states' rights, human rights, and free market capitalism. They believe the government should interfere as little as possible, that competition is good, and that the United States is the greatest nation on earth. They tend to be set in their ways and allow themselves to be guided by religion in most social issues, but true conservatives act in what they feel to be the best interests of their country and its people.

That's not to say it has all the answers, of course. Liberalism fueled the Civil Rights movement, after all. Personal freedom is a signature issue of both ideologies, though what is "right" is certainly up for debate. In the coming months, candidates for governor, lieutenant governor, and attorney general will take up that debate across the Commonwealth. Virginians will have a unique opportunity to show the country where it stands on the issues.

I had the idea a while ago to do profiles on the candidates; but as this blog is not solely aimed at Virginians, I have decided to blog on the issues themselves, with mention made of where each candidate stands on each issue. Though I consider myself to be conservative, I hope to present a fair appraisal of the pros and cons of each position on issues important to every American: health care, and other entitlements; energy and the environment; education; and, of course, the economy. Though there are certainly other issues of importance, these are the four that I have chosen to profile here. As always, please feel free to leave any earnest comments that you may have.

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