December 13, 2006 [LINK / comment]

Bashing Virginia Republicans

Last week the Washington Post editorialized on divisions that plague the Republican Party in Virginia. Apparently, someone tipped them off that the moderate pragmatists in the party -- the ones who are often derided as "RINOS," meaning Republicans in name only -- stayed away from the recent "Advance" conclave at the Homestead. Given the mistrust that currently pervades the party, that's not at all surprising to me. To the Post's opinion page editors, the resistance in the House of Delegates to fully funding the transportation wish-list of Northern Virginia is irrational stubbornness. As they put it, "They would rather just be the Party of "Nyet" -- nyet to taxes, nyet to new roads, nyet to new preschools." Well, what about the possibility that they are simply being faithful to their own core principles? Is that so wrong?

To me, it is common sense that the government should refrain from subsidizing a transportation infrastructure that is based on gasoline-powered passenger vehicles. If people who live in crowded areas want more highway lanes, there should be a special tax district so that those people can pay for it in full, not forcing rural folks to share the burden. Subsidized highways artificially inflate consumer demand for petroleum, but somehow this basic fact is rarely mentioned in public discourse. (Ever hear of excessive dependence on imported oil?) Ironically, those "stubborn, backward" Republicans in the Virginia House may be more farsighted than most elitists think.

Today's Staunton News Leader echoed the Washington Post's theme, scorning the "obstructionist, Republican-dominated House of Delegates," which they call "the root cause of Virginia's recurring nightmare..." To me, the blame lies not with either the House of Delegates Republicans or the Senate Republicans, but rather with the poor state of communication within the Republican Party in general. Reasonable people who share broad common objectives ought to be able to hammer out a compromise, and the fact that such attempts have failed over and over again is a clear sign that something is seriously wrong. Thanks to a few headstrong leaders who put their own ambitions ahead of all else, factionalism has become so bad over the past few years that many members are afraid to speak their minds. In terms of policy, I have leaned somewhat more toward the House side, but I am increasingly worried that some House members are so committed to their ideological preferences that they disregard financial soundness. That was why former Governor Warner was able to take away the fiscal responsibility issue from the Republicans, and is the main reason why the Republicans might lose control of one or both legislative chambers in next year's elections. Then our state government will create all sorts of ridiculous new entitlement programs, starting with Governor Kaine's proposed universal free preschool care, and ending up who knows where.

Letter to the editor

Coincidentally, today's News Leader also published my letter to the editor that was prompted by seeing a local boy wearing an obnoxious T-shirt. I made the provocative suggestion of publishing a list of "bad parents" in hopes of instilling some respect for authority and perhaps even a sense of shame in the Wayward Youth of Today.