Bob McDonnell is officially Virginia's 71st Governor. Just this last weekend, he was sworn in, and has already gone straight to work. His Cabinet is assembled, including a new Cabinet-level position for our Lieutenant Governor, Bill Bolling, as Virginia's Chief Job Creation Officer.
There are certainly many trials facing this new administration, not the least of which being a $4 billion budget shortfall. Always an optimist, though, Governor McDonnell took the long view of history in his inaugural address:
"We do not face the challenges of forming a new government or securing a young nation, as did Washington, Jefferson and Henry. We do not encounter the devastation and destruction of Civil War, as did Lincoln and Lee. We do not struggle with the injustice of slavery and its legacy of segregation as did Governor Wilder as a young man. We do not march into bullets and artillery shells, as did the Greatest Generation on the beaches of Normandy and the islands of the Pacific ... The actions of those patriots that came before us had a common purpose to create and expand freedom and opportunity for the generations that came behind them."
He spoke of the need to face our challenges and create opportunities in the economy, in education, and in our families and communities. Rather than vague promises, he made specific commitments, including a commitment to work with our president when appropriate to improve the quality of opportunity for future generations by increasing education spending and lowering the tax burden on businesses to keep Virginia's overall business rating at its normal high level.
He reiterated his determination to make Virginia an energy leader in the country, the "Energy Capital of the East Coast", by expanding wind, solar, biomass, nuclear, coal, and natural gas energies. He also reiterated his promise to improve the transportation system in Virginia. He pledged to make Virginia a "Commonwealth of Opportunity", and asked each of us to involve ourselves in our communities and pursue our dreams.
Not thinking just of us and our problems, though, the Governor also mentioned the people of Haiti, who as you may know just days ago suffered a terrible earthquake that left tens of thousands dead and many more in dire straits. He invoked the scripture that reminds us "to whom much is given, much will be required" and urged all Virginians to donate in whatever way we can to relief efforts there.
The inaugural speech is inspiring, and quite moving. I'd ask each of you to read the full text here.
For our new governor, we all should give our support as well. As has been noted, there are many problems facing us all, and more than just reading his words or watching his speeches, we need to offer encouragement and even advice in the areas important to us. Representative Eric Cantor, whose Congressional District covers parts of Richmond and its suburbs, sent a letter of congratulations to Bob McDonnell and asks that others do, as well:
Congratulations on your victory - the Republican resurgence has begun and we are all proud that it began in Virginia. We look forward to your inauguration and we stand ready to work with you to build a better future for Virginia families.
We'd also like to thank you for the manner in which you ran your campaign. This was a campaign that Virginia can be proud of - a positive, solutions-based campaign. This election serves as living proof that when we stand on our common-sense conservative principles and apply them to the problems that people face every day - our Republican agenda can win in every party of our Commonwealth and our nation.
Here are the words I added to his letter:
I don't mind saying how proud I am of Virginia for electing a governor who focuses more on solutions than on politics. I look forward to four years (maybe more) of setting an example to the rest of the country that conservatives have just as many "solutions" as liberals do, and better ones at that.
That being said, I'd like a priority of your administration to be finding a comprehensive health care reform alternative to the ones being proposed by Congress and the president. I believe states have a responsibility, as per the Tenth Amendment, to take upon themselves the responsibilities not given to the federal government, health care reform being one of those.
Other states have already taken the initiative, Governor McDonnell. In Massachusetts, though their solution isn't perfect, they've had comprehensive health care for years. It's even become a factor in the special senate election being held there, as many residents feel the federal government's efforts are redundant and actually want Scott Brown to go to Washington and vote against the legislation being proposed. If Massachusetts can be satisfied with what their commonwealth can provide, then Virginia can certainly provide for its residents.
Almost from the beginning of your campaign, Governor, I've wanted to know your plans for reforming health care and health insurance in Virginia. Surely you have enough information and incentive to act now, rather than later. Let us become a national leader in this debate by doing better than Washington ever could.
Thank you for your time, and congratulations again.
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