It would be nice to blame the crappy weather we’ve had this year for putting a damper on this Christmas season. The sideshow in Washington with the guaranteed impeachment of Donald Trump next week, making him just the third president to reach that sordid level, and the sham trial in a Senate that cares nothing about the facts guaranteeing a quick acquittal.
Sadly, facts disappeared a long time ago in American government and politics. I lived and worked within the political system for 11 of our 23 years in Washington and, also sadly, can and should share some of the blame of what has happened to the madness that controls most of Congress and all of the White House now.
We left Washington in 2004 in part because of disdain for what our political system had become. I hoped to escape it down here in Floyd County. the home of much of my teenage years and a place where my family goes back many generations.
Not that easy, we found. Politics still comes into play here in the Blue Ridge and in the Commonwealth of Virginia. The new Democratic majority in the General Assembly now joins with Democrats who control the governor and attorney general’s office.
We saw political anger at play this week with the large and loud crowd that crammed into the Floyd County High School auditorium to speak, shout and threaten in public comments on the political sideshow called the “Second Amendment Sanctuary” resolution that is sweeping through Virginia localities.
Lots of anger supporting a resolution that, in the end, has no governing authority in a government where localities have no power to pass ordinances or operate a “sanctuary” or give any law enforcement agency any authority to oppose proposed new gun controls from a new Democratic majority in the General Assembly.
The loud boos that the few who opposed such a resolution faced and shouts from the audience in a crowd that turned rowdier towards the end of the two-plus hours of hyperbole showed an angry, dark side hurts the image of our county.
Here in Southwestern Virginia, Republicans blame the shift in power on the populous Democratic cities and counties in Northern Virginia, Tidewater and Richmond for turning the state “blue.”
Wife Amy and I saw the same sort of feelings in Illinois, where Cook County and Chicago controls most of the statewide votes that often overrule the feelings of “downstate” communities like Alton, where I worked as a newspaperman for 12 years, and Belleville, where she grew up.
We saw it from two points of view since moving to Virginia in 1981, a return to the Old Dominion for me. Our home in Arlington County for 23 years was Democratically controlled and as the areas around it grew as government and supporting businesses grew, the demographics of the region changed.
When we moved to Floyd County, we relocated to a place where Republican politics ruled. During our 15 years here, we have watched the demographics of the county change, slowly. The board of supervisors now has two independents on a board that has traditionally been all Republican. An independent beat a Republican for Commonwealth’s Attorney several years ago before he later became a judge.
The county still votes mostly Republican, but voters recently have shown more diversity, which one would hope in a nation should welcome diversity along with a free and open exchange of ideas.
I consider myself a “political agnostic.” I’ve never registered at a Democrat or Republican. I worked for three GOP Congressman in Washington but they never asked my political affiliation and I kept my thoughts on issues to myself. I’m liberal on some issues, conservative on others. My last political job in Washington was running the political programs division of The National Association of Realtors for five years, which included administration of what was then the largest political action committee in Washington. We “maxed out” on contributions to Democrats and Republican candidates for Congress, depending on their positions on real estate issues, not their political affiliation.
The late New Mexico Congressman Manuel Lujan, who also served as Secretary of the Interior, was one of my bosses. He told me that “politics” is a compound word of “poli,” a derivative of the Latin term for “many” and “tics,” which are bloodsuckers.
“Pretty much describes the system that controls our government,” he said.
Yes, it does.