The Commonwealth of Virginia's Ultimate Blog

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

McSweeney Dead On

I love Patrick McSweeney's article on Bacon's Rebellion on the direction of the Republican Party of Virginia. He gets a lot of things right.

First of all, it is absolutely correct that the Republican Party both here in the state and nationally needs to return to a policy of fiscal responsibility. There is absolutely no credibility or sense in an abs
olutist position against taxes without an additional doctrine of fiscal responsibility. The national party has made a mockery of conservatism by allowing the creation of the largest budget deficit in American history.

McSweeney writes:
Instead of focusing on taxes, Republicans should emphasize the need to control spending. Higher state taxes are merely the consequence of a lack of spending restraint. Republicans have too often been seen as wanting it both ways — opposed to higher taxes, but eager to spend the new revenues.
He goes on to assert that the mobilization of the social conservatives by the Republican Party is absolutely vital to Republican success in Virginia. That's something that Kilgore simply didn't do, much like Marshal Coleman in the Republican campaigns for governor in the 1980s. Let's not return to those foolish days. The fact that Mark Earley lost to a strong opponent in Mark Warner in a bad year does not mean that social conservatism should be abandoned:
Until the party reached out to social conservatives in the 1970s, it had no prospect of winning control of the Virginia General Assembly. As the 2004 presidential election and the 2005 statewide elections in Virginia showed, Republicans aren’t likely to prevail without intense support from social conservatives

The key word there is "intense." Flaccid support from social conservatives will always result in the defeat of the Republican Party in Virginia.


Blogger James Atticus Bowden said...

Pat's priority is correct - absolutely. But the GOP caucus must have a plan for spending. You can't beat something (even if it is bad) with nothing. Gotta have a plan for limited spending.

1:48 PM

Anonymous NoVA Scout said...

Why is spending suddenly becoming the new pop craze? Connaughton and Fitch pounded on this issue in the primaries but were shouted down by those who said taxes were the only legitimate source of instant political gratification. Are we getting smarter or is this just more hollow rhetoric in the quest for something to make the GOP meaningful in Virginia politics?

4:49 PM

Blogger James Atticus Bowden said...

Fitch was two years too late to run for Gov. Connaughton was untrustworthy on taxes which is not the same as whatever you are saying about instant gratification.

7:44 PM

Anonymous Plato said...

Reach out to social conservatives? Why don't they run Pat Robertson (if he can spare the time from the destruction of Dover, PA) or Jerry Falwell (after he gets Liberty U. in the top 20).

Of course there's always Grover Norquist--if only he'd move to Virginia.

2:56 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

"untrustworthy on taxes" based on what - Bolling's slander?!!!! We finally have a guy who leads on focusing and limiting spending in the second largest county in the state and you attack him. So what, exactly, have you done to be "trustworthy" on taxes and why isn't he?

2:57 PM

Blogger James Atticus Bowden said...

Anon, untrustworthy on taxes is for folks who supported the Transportation Tax Scam of 02 and the Chicken Little Tax Con of 04. Likewise, those who say they reduce taxes by reducing the property tax rate but not enough to actually reduce the taxes. The Prince Williams Co GOP committee didn't endorse Connaughton because he was untrustworthy on taxes.

Trustworthy Republicans oppose tax increases.

9:06 PM

Anonymous NOVA Scout said...

What absolute nonsense. Connaughton carried the PW GOP primary in 2003 with around 80% of the vote. No lack of support form Republicans there. He and Fitch were the only elected official in Virginia to have consistent records of lowering taxes. Connaughton was not part of the General assembly in 2004. so you can't hang that one on him. He supported the Transportation Referendum in 2002, but there are a lot of us conservatives in Northern Virginia who saw that as the only way to break away from the dead hand of Richmond's incompetence on transport matters. The referendum failed, but it was worth a shot. We wouldn't have had to even consider it if the GA and the last two or three Governors had been fulfiling their obligations to the people. Connaughton has been consistently candid in his opposition to high property tax rates and he knowingly took a difficult stand on the 2002 referendum. If you're looking for political courage from conservatives, look thataway, JAB.

10:02 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey Bowden -- You get a monthly retirement check from the government AND you work for a government contractor. You also got a $120K college education on the taxpayer dole. If you ask me -YOU ARE THE PROBLEM NOT THE SOLUTION. What a fraud!

PS - Before you respond with the "I served in the military" defense, you should hear this -- I went to a military academy and did 25 years of military service but I am not enough of a hypocrite that I scream about public spending.

12:00 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Connaughton opposed the 2004 tax increase and cut the taxes in Prince William. He also carried the County by 70% of the vote in the 2005 primary. I guess Bowden is a liar.

12:07 AM

Blogger James Atticus Bowden said...

Looks like Sean's defenders have hot buttons. Good.

But, ladies, you need to read a bit closer, more carefully, before you get vapors.

The PW Committee didn't support SC in 05. That is nice about his votes in 03 and then in the primary in 05. Good for him.

I especially like being called names by anonymous bloggers. Anytime you can't argue against the message, then attack the messenger. The Clintons were experts at this.

NoVa Scout, I don't know of any conservatives who supported the Transportation Tax Scam of 02. Not conservatives. But, if you say you are, then I believe you -really not kidding. I don't follow how being for the tax was an act of political courage as much as an act of being on the team with all the political power. It passed on a majority vote in the GA. Only a handful of conservative elected reps opposed the scam. They had real courage.

The person from 'a' military academy and served 25 years and sees such hypocrisy and fraud may be unfamiliar with capitalism and our representative form of government. I'm sorry I didn't get to teach you American Government at USMA.

1:24 AM

Anonymous NoVA Scout said...

JAB - sorry to see the harsh words from some folks. Unnecessary and out of bounds. We're just chatting here. Let's you and I have a civil discussion.

I have no idea what you're talking about with the PW Committee. Maybe it's different in your neck of the woods, but up here, we frown on local committees endorsing one GOP candidate over another during the primaries. That's simply not their proper function. Some of them strayed out of this protocol, if not formally, at least informally, with Kilgore. But I daresay, no local committee should have endorsed Connaughton (or Bolling, or Baril, or McDonnell, or Kilgore)in the primary. If any of them did, it would have been highly inappropriate. The absence of such an endorsement is of little meaning. If the Hanover Committee had endorsed Bolling in the primary, I would have thought it wrong, but I would not have attached any negative inference to Bolling from a decision by that Committee not to endorse. So put that abused horse back in the barn.

The NoVA/HR tax referendum was a bad idea whose time had come. I really struggled with that one and ended up voting for it. To this day, I'm not sure it was the right vote. I think one could argue it round or flat, even from a conservative perspective. There was no enthusiastic support for it from anyone. Connaughton described it as a failure mode fallback, but one that was urgently necessary to avoid economic growth being choked by traffic. Most (this is a rearview gestalt, I haven't gone back to count) of the local leaders in this region supported the referendum. A lot of us who supported it thought it represented political spinelessness by the GA (including such luminaries as McDonnell and Bolling who voted to hold the referendum) to put us in a position where that was how we had to deal with issues we felt were the GA's primary responsibility. (By the way, I hope you don't include in your hall of valour any GA member who voted to hold the referendum and THEN advocated against its passage).

Opposition to the local sales tax increase was absolutely legitimate, but so was the utter frustration a lot of us up here (presumably also in HR) feel with the ineffectual policies toward road building and other transport needs coming out of Richmond. The sense among supporters was that this was an area where the job was not getting done and that devolving authority to the local level was a last-resort solution. The thing lost. So be it. But nothing has happened in either branch of government in Richmond since then to address the problems (in fairness, the DOT under Clement/Homer is a better place than it used to be). Virtually all the backlogged projects that the referendum was intended to address are still nowhere, except now their price tags have doubled and all that money will eventually come from the citizens. Delays mean that maintenance costs are devouring construction resources. In other words, there have been significant public opportunity costs from not approving the referendum. Fiscal conservatives don't like that.

You over-extrapolate to make support or opposition a bellwether of whether one is a conservative or not. And "untrustworthy" is not the word I would use to describe local elected officials (particularly conservative Republicans) who clearly knew that the issue would be a hot one, but at the same time clearly conveyed their rationale for feeling a break with Richmond and taking fate into our own hands, even at the cost of some additional taxation) was the most responsible thing to do. (As an aside, some post-referendum surveys indicated that a significant number of citizens were swayed to vote against the referendum becasue of fear that the monies would not be used regionally for transport, but would go to Richmond for General Abuse by the General Assembly. An irony there.)

So we ought to retire that issue also as a matter of moment in the political affairs of the Commonwealth. The GA forced the referendum on the voters, they voted it down, there were good arguments pro-and-con. Democracy triumphs. The roads get worse.

There are no doubt legitimate criticisms that can be leveled against Connaughton (e.g., he's very conservative for the changing demographics of his region, he's hard-core, no exception pro-life, which may be off-putting to liberal and moderate women voters, his military experience, national defense predilections, international business activities, and immersion in history academics may make him a tad too sensitive to federal prerogatives for a local or statewide political leader, and he can be non-PC blunt in his public statements), but he's pretty damned (perhaps too) transparent about what he's thinking and why he's thinking it, and he get's things accomplished. He knows how to get things done in a large complex jurisdiction. He polls well both within the GOP and across party lines in Northern Virginia. That's a real asset for the GOP, expecially these days. These governance skills are ones that are lacking in our camp, and were virtually (and, I submit, fatally) absent from the 2005 slate. I hope to see more of them in the future, if not from Connaughton or Fitch, from others like them. That's why I'm not looking to Richmond or the General Assembly for the way out for the state GOP after the debacle of 2005.

BTW, thanks for your service in teaching America's finest at West Point. Good teachers can make a ripple effect difference for years to come.

2:28 PM

Blogger The Richmond Democrat said...

Sorry Gents,

The demographics (no pun intended) are all against you. Virginia is turning blue. The growth of northern and central Virginia is changing the electoral balance.

Mobilizing the social conservative base is going to start boomeranging against you. For every one of Robertson's foot soldiers you bring out, two moderates will get angry and vote Democratic.

Nice blog though. I'm sure that I'll be seeing you guys around.


8:22 PM

Blogger James Atticus Bowden said...

NoVa Scout: Attaboy for gentlemanly manners.

Part of PW is in our Congressional District. At the District meeting I heard the PW committee made an endorsement. It's a mixed bag throughout our District. Some do endorse in a primary and most don't.

You came to your conclusion about the NoVa Trans Tax in 02. No prob.

I read the 2 inch report that supposedly was the analytical background for the Tidewater scheme. It sucked. Really. Wrong plan, tax, and administration.

Libertarians lead the opposition on Southside of the James. On The Peninsula it was primarily Republican Conservatives. I was the vice-Chair of kNOw on The Peninsula. We were outspent $2.2m:$40k and we won big.

Agree on GA folks who tried to have it both ways. I didn't cheer those who voted to put us through the haze.

I didn't mean to make the tax(es) a single issue litmus test for conservative. This is blogging and I was using shorthand. My miscommunication.

If your comment about the GA means you don't think we will see decisive Conservative leadership in the 06 session, then I'd say let's see. I wrote my piece about needing a hero because without a champion the ideas go wanting.

As to the demographics you and the j.c mention the future will be a bit more complicated.

There are 7 million Virginians.l If we get 2 million more in what - the next 5 or 10 years? What is the break down among Yankees, Southerners and Foreigners. Then dive into the details of the demographics.

If it is my baby boomer generation coming to retire and die here the effect goes away in 30-40 years. What % of the foreigners will be Christian or convert during the next few decades? How many folks go into small business? And there are many more questions - better a subject of its own thread.

Long range futures is my day job. Interesting subject with many change 'drivers' but very little determinism - more arrays of choices like a spread sheet. Hope this makes sense.

Thanks for the attaboy on teaching cadets. It was great and I love hearing from my former students. But, it didn't have the high highs and low lows of serving in 5 divisions. Hooah.

10:03 PM

Anonymous NOVA Scout said...

JAB: Hope to see you at the Advance

10:37 PM

Blogger James Atticus Bowden said...

NoVA Scout I'll be at the Advance. My name tag may say 'Jim Bowden', so don't get confused.

9:34 AM

Anonymous NoVA Scout said...

Mine uses my full name: "Super Nova Scout" (my father was an astronomer), but my friends call me "Scout"

10:41 AM


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