Thursday, June 18, 2009

Bob McDonnell, Please Inspire Us

So today's big news in Virginia politics was a Washington Times oped criticizing Bob McDonnell for not signing the pledge to not raise taxes. In it the Times quotes Bob as saying he didn't believe in signing pledges (even though he signed the same pledge a few years ago) and then he says "...and I will tell you that I have no plans to raise taxes." The Times responded by saying

No plans to raise taxes? That answer has too much wiggle room for us.

The rest of Mr. McDonnell's answer doesn't make sense, either. The anti-tax-increase pledge is a guaranteed vote-getter. That's why office seekers sign it every election. In what everyone expects will be a razor-thin race, it is strange to give away a real political advantage.

This comment by Bob McDonnell seems to have conceded the high ground on taxes. This election gives a good opportunity to debate the merits of high taxes vs. low taxes since Creigh Deeds seems unable to find a tax increase he doesn't like. He even voted to increase the gas tax when gas was at $4.00 a gallon. Instead of taking Deeds head on for raising taxes, our gubernatorial nominee is leaving the possibility of a tax raise open. Which lead Not Larry Sabato to ask the fair question Is Bob McDonnell planning a middle class tax hike? If Bob is open to raising taxes we should find out now which ones he would like to raise. This is ironic because we should be telling our friends and neighbors about the taxes Bob has pledged to cut as we go door knocking this Saturday.

This Washington Times oped is only a symptom of a more fundamental problem. There is a fundamental clash going on right now about the nature of campaigns. Should they be about laying out conservative ideas that will win in the district you are from and persuading people to support those ideals, or should they be about "reaching out" to the elusive independents who "decide elections". In this election Bob McDonnell seems to have chosen to ignore his base and reach out to the independents as he seeks to win the governorship of our commonwealth. Ever since February we've been hearing about how Bob is trying to reach out to the middle. He has been talking about green jobs and bipartisanship and ignored the things that inspire people, taxes, guns, and social issues.

Running as a conservative is the path to victory, not political destruction. When was the last time the GOP won the top race on the ticket in Virginia? When was the last time the top of the ticket won in Virginia? Just in case you will point out the obvious that 2004 is old history, let me point you to a couple of recent polls. In a poll Gallup took a moth ago it found that a majority of Americans consider themselves pro-life. In another Gallup poll taken about a week ago found that conservatives (not liberals or independents) comprise the largest ideological group in America. The poll found that 40% of Americans consider themselves conservative while 21% consider themselves liberal, and 45% of independents consider themselves conservative. While these were national polls, I would think they would transfer pretty well to Virginia if there were a Virginia poll on these issues. Even if you want to disagree on this, explain how the Marriage Amendment was passed on the same ballot that George Allen lost on, or how Ken Cuccinelli won in Fairfax in 2007 when Republicans were getting defeated everywhere else. Running as a conservative is what has worked in Virginia and what will continue to work.

Newt Gingrich made this point very well when he said,

Like Reagan, we have to be inclusive, not exclusive. I’m happy Dick Cheney is a Republican. And I’m happy Colin Powell is a Republican

But here’s the key: Being inclusive doesn’t mean going wobbly. It doesn’t mean abandoning our principles.

Reagan called them “first principles.” They are our bedrock beliefs. And in a center-right nation, they are the touchstones that will guide us back into the majority.

I want Bob McDonnell to win this election, and if he is going to do it he needs to do it by winning on first principles. Bob McDonnell has a record as a fiscal and social conservative. However, he is refusing to run on it this cycle. D.J. McGuire theorizes that the western part of the state votes on social issues while the eastern part of the state votes on taxes. I would tend to concur with this theory. If it is true then Bob McDonnell is refusing to run on the two issues that lead to success in Virginia. Even if Bob wants to refuse to talk about taxes and social issues then give us something inspiring. What is the big idea Bob McDonnell is running on? What are the things Bob will do as governor that people can get excited and enthused about? Bob McDonnell I want you to win. Please inspire your base, and since you seem concerned about polls maybe that will help you raise your 78% support among Republicans.

To echo the words of Ronald Reagan, Bob McDonnell please stop running under a banner of pale pastels, but raise the banner of bold colors which make it unmistakably clear where we stand on all the issues troubling the people.

Since agreeing with Reagan is almost always right...

I don ‘t know about you, but I am impatient with those Republicans who after the last election rushed into print saying, “We must broaden the base of our party”—when what they meant was to fuzz up and blur even more the differences between ourselves and our opponents.

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