In which an older and wiser yet terminally earnest former liberal struggles to come to grips with the cynicism, hatred, and paranoia that plague both sides of the American political spectrum. "Can we all get along?"
"The use of force alone is but temporary. It may subdue for a moment; but it does not remove the necessity of subduing again: and a nation is not governed, which is perpetually to be conquered."
Edmund Burke, 2nd speech on conciliation with America, Mar. 22, 1775 (Bartlett's 16th ed., p. 331)
Mrs. Powel: "Well, Dr. Franklin, what have we got, a republic or a monarchy?"
Benjamin Franklin: "A republic, if you can keep it."
After Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia, Sept. 18, 1787. (Bartlett's 16th ed.)
"As long as the reason of man continues fallible, and he is at liberty to exercise it, different opinions will be formed. As long as the connection subsists between his reason and his self-love, his opinions and his passions will have a reciprocal influence on each other, and the former will be objects to which the latter will attach themselves."
James Madison ("Publius"), The Federalist Papers No. 10 (1787)
"Of the three forms of sovereignty [autocracy, aristocracy, and democracy], democracy, in the truest sense of the word, is necessarily a despotism because it establishes an executive power through which all the citizens may make decisions about (and indeed against) the individual without his consent..."
Immanuel Kant, Perpetual Peace: A Philosophical Sketch (1795)
"To act successfully, that is, according to the rules of the political art, is political wisdom. To know with despair that the political act is inevitably evil, and to act nevertheless, is moral courage. To choose among several expedient actions the least evil one is moral judgment. In the combination of political wisdom, moral courage, and moral judgment, man reconciles his political nature with his moral destiny."
Hans Morgenthau, Scientific Man vs. Power Politics (1946), p. 203
"Thus, whenever a concrete threat to peace develops, war is opposed not by a world public opinion but by the public opinions of those nations whose interests are threatened by that war."
Hans Morgenthau, Politics Among Nations 6th ed., rev. by Kenneth Thompson (1985), p. 288
"The texture of international politics remains highly constant, patterns recur, and events repeat themselves endlessly."
Kenneth Waltz, Theory of International Politics (1979), p. 66
"Men wiser and more learned than I have discerned in history a plot, a rhythm, a predetermined pattern. These harmonies are concealed from me. I can see only one emergency following upon another as wave follows upon wave, only one great fact with respect to which, since it is unique, there can be no generalizations, only one safe rule for the historian: that he should recognize in the development of human destinies the play of the contingent and the unforeseen."
H. A. L. Fisher, History of Europe (1935), p. vii [Oxford Dictionary of Modern Quotations (1991), p. 80]
"Most of the change we think we see in life is due to truths being in and out of favour."
Robert Frost, 'Black Cottage' North of Boston (1914), [Oxford Dictionary of Modern Quotations (1991), p. 86]
"My thoughts encompass divinity, therefore divinity is. The divinity that my thoughts encompass is associated with the order that arises out of chaos... As we expand our knowledge of this realm, we ... see it in terms of one sublime order that awaits full realization."
Louis J. Halle, Out of Chaos (1977), p. 646
"Here, then, is the complexity, the fascination, and the tragedy of all political life. Politics are made up of two elements -- utopia and reality -- belonging to two different planes which can never meet."
E. H. Carr, The Twenty Years' Crisis, 1919-1939 2nd ed. (1946), p. 93.
"My biggest blunder in life was attempt to seek common ground with Keynesians, based on the naive thought that by putting my ideas in Keynesian language that I would make any dent on the Keynesians."
Milton Friedman, New York Times, July 4, 1999
"War made the state and the state made war."
Charles Tilly, The Formation of National States in Western Europe (1975), p. 42
"Americans like to mock Kuwaitis as rich and pampered and lazy and decadent, which is exactly what the rest of the world says about Americans. Actually, we shouldn't mock Kuwait at all. It represents the hopes and dreams of Americans of all political persuasions. For liberals, it's a generous welfare state with guaranteed employment and a huge government bureaucracy. For conservatives, it's a country with no taxes and plenty of cheap maids who aren't allowed to vote."
Peter Carlson, "Castles in the Sand," Washington Post Magazine Jan. 14, 1996, p. 32-33
"[Bill Clinton's] greatest strength is his insincerity... I've decided Bill Clinton is at his most genuine when he's the most phony... We know he doesn't mean what he says."
Newsweek reporter Howard Fineman, in a speech in Indiana quoted by Howard Kurtz, Washington Post Apr. 27, 1996
"Whatever one thinks of Bill Clinton, his opponents [*] must be thwarted. They are enemies of democracy and of the Constitution that insures its possibility. We long ago lost the luxury of choosing our allies. This is war."
* (referred to elsewhere in this piece as "mad dogs bent on political annihilation")
Eric Alterman, "Democracy Disappears" The Nation, Jan. 11-18, 1998
"There are no enemies in science, professor. Only phenomena to study."
From the movie The Thing, 1951 (a Cold War sci-fi allegory)
Julia Roberts: "Can you prove any of this?"
Mel Gibson: "No... A good conspiracy is unprovable. If you can prove it, someone must have screwed up somewhere along the way."
From the movie Conspiracy Theory
THE 16 WORDS: "The British government has learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa."
Pres. George W. Bush, State of the Union address, Jan. 2003
To the surprise of almost no one, State Senator Emmett Hanger won renomination as the Republican candidate for Virginia Senate for the 24th Senate District in the June 9 primary election, exactly three weeks ago. The only uncertainty was his margin of victory, and given that he was facing two opposing candidates, it's safe to call his 60-percent share of the vote a landslide victory. For details on the election results, see newsleader.com.
It was quite a contrast to the situation four years ago, when Hanger went unchallenged, and eight years ago, when he barely turned back a primary election challenge by Scott Sayre. So what's going on? Strangely enough, given my deep involvement in local politics prior to 2010 or so, I only have a vague idea about the nature of the struggles within the Republican Party lately. I was, however, diligent enough to read about the candidates in the News Leader, and to look at their campaign flyers.
The two challengers were Marshall Pattie, a professor at James Madison University and member of the Augusta County Board of Supervisors, and Dan Moxley, a businessman and chairman of the Augusta County Republican Committee. Pattie has been affiliated with the "grassroots" faction in Augusta County, those who are motivated primarily by opposition to higher property taxes. The most prominent public figure within that faction is Tracy Pyles, a long-time local Democrat who seems to embody the old (pre-1970s) Democratic Party in Virginia. Pattie was first elected in November 2011, along with David Karaffa and Tracy Pyles (who was reelected). Another candidate of that faction, former Augusta County GOP Chairman Kurt Michaels, lost his election bid that year. The fact that Pattie himself is a former local Democratic leader raised many eyebrows, but he identifies himself as a conservative. He stressed the issues of cutting government red tape, improving Internet access to rural residents, and reducing the cost of adoptions.
As for Moxley, he seems to have enjoyed strong support from local Tea Party activists, although a local Tea Party official made clear in a letter to the editor that the organization does not endorse candidates. (Otherwise, they would become subject to harsh government scrutiny under campaign finance laws!) Moxley's campaign strongly emphasized his opposition to Obamacare, pledging to vote against Medicaid expansion, and to repeal laws that he considers unconstitutional. He is pro-Second Amendment, and also stressed "sanctity of life" (anti-abortion) and "traditional marriage." He was formerly Vice Chairman of the Bath County Republican Committee, and then moved to Augusta County a couple years ago, whereupon he ran unopposed for the GOP chairmanship.
Emmett Hanger was not caught flat-footed by these dual challenges, as seemed to be the case in 2007, when his campaign didn't really get started until a month or so before the election. Indeed, there were dozens of radio commercials in late May and early June, as well as a deluge of campaign flyers in everybody's mail boxes. I also noted increasing use of social media such as Facebook, something that Emmett used to shun. His campaign "recycled" an abridged version of my YouTube video of the musical fundraiser on May 31, 2007, featuring Jimmy Fortune (of the Statler Brothers) and Robin Williams. There was also a cute animated skit in which Emmett talks about how he has stood up against the low-down hardball political tactics employed by right-wing anti-tax activists. (Probably alluding to the Koch Brothers.) Emmett's campaign literature emphasized that he is conservative, that he is the same guy he always was, and that he has been endorsed by the NRA, real estate agents, and other groups. It was a clever, effective, professional campaign. So who was behind it? To my surprise, the manager of the Hanger 2015 campaign was none other than Lynn Mitchell, local blogger, former member of the Republican State Central Committee, ally of Kurt Michael, and fierce leader of the Sayre campaign running against Hanger in 2007! Well, if you can't beat them, join them.
Campaign sign for Emmett Hanger, in Mount Solon, near where he lives in the northern part of Augusta County.
Member Senate of Virginia (024)
Results by Locality
78 precincts of 78 (100.00%) reporting
Because the 24th District is strongly conservative, it is almost guaranteed that whoever wins the Republican primary election will win the general election in November. And because Virginia is an open primary state, where people can vote in either party's primary, there is always a possibility of heavy crossover voting of a less-than-sincere nature. The Republican State Central Committee met in Staunton this past Saturday to address the question of how to do nominations. They tentatively decided to use a primary election in next year's presidential race, and to use a convention for the next gubernatorial elections, in 2017. See newsleader.com.
In my blog post on politics on February 12, I lamented the failure of redistricting reform in Virginia at this year's General Assembly Session. Following the redistricting of 2011, the Virginia 24th Senate District lost Highland County, northern Rockbridge County, and northwestern Albemarle County, and gained Madison County and most of Culpeper County except for the town of Culpeper, extending nearly to the city of Fredericksburg. What motivated this extremely contorted configuration? Obviously, folks who live in Augusta County have little in common with those who live in the outer suburbs of Washington, D.C. The 24th Senate District is stretched out like a blob of dough, and in my view violates the standard laid out in the Constitution of Virginia. The U.S. Supreme Court recently issued a ruling in favor of those who would reform the redistricting process, and I was pleased to learn that Emmett Hanger came out in favor of such reforms. It will be a long and arduous process, however...
Virginia 24th Senate Dist 2011, represented by Senator Emmett Hanger.
According to Article II, Section 6 of the Constitution of Virginia (virginia.gov),
"... Every electoral district shall be composed of contiguous and compact territory... "