In the 2018 Midterm elections, Sen. Tim Kaine was reelected to a second term and Denver Riggleman was elected to the Fifth Congressional District. In their upcoming terms, Kaine and Riggleman should remember the University and Charlottesville communities in their legislative agendas. As one of the largest areas in the Fifth District, Riggleman has a responsibility to recognize the individual needs of our community as they contribute to the wellbeing of the entire district. On the statewide level, Kaine should recognize Charlottesville as a focal point throughout the Commonwealth of Virginia. In terms of both legislative opportunity and symbolism, Charlottesville’s needs and history should influence the activity of recently elected officials.
As the health care market in the U.S., Charlottesville residents are in dire need for increased medical options. Health insurance providers are often concentrated in areas with higher population density, and as a primarily rural area, Albemarle County suffers from reduced accessibility to providers. As the incentives for providers to stay involved in the individual insurance market provided under the Affordable Care Act have been reduced, premiums have skyrocketed and many individuals do not have the means to pay. In his campaign, Kaine recognized the importance of accessibility to health care across Virginia. His particular plans include an expansion of Medicaid and a plan called Medicare X, which would allow for increased personal choice at lower costs. While the specific plans Kaine offers may not provide the best solutions, he should listen to his constituents to determine the best course of action as the re-elected U.S. Senator from Virginia.
Riggleman’s plans to address the health care crisis in the Fifth District stand in stark opposition to that of Kaine, but Riggleman still has the opportunity to address his constituents’ need for improved health care coverage. In response to the Fifth District’s high premiums, Riggleman campaigned on a repeal of the ACA and increase in choice for individuals with respect to their providers. He also proposed shifting Medicaid to a more consumer-driven model, where private companies will provide better options than a government-driven market. Although Riggleman and Kaine’s policies contradict each other, they can each learn from their constituents in Charlottesville when implementing their legislative agendas.
Charlottesville has become a microcosm of the nation both in terms of cultural and political movements. Over the past several years, events have transpired at the University and in greater Charlottesville that should force our recently-elected officials to consider the community in any policies with wide-reaching consequences. Regardless of its factual inaccuracies, Rolling Stone’s 2014 article “A Rape on Campus” brought sexual assault back into the national spotlight, with Charlottesville and the University as the backdrop. The of Martese Johnson in 2015 occurred amongst a nationwide wave of police brutality, and was similar in nature to the violence that prompted the creation of the Black Lives Matter movement. Finally, the events of Aug. 11 and 12, 2017 showcased the rise of violent extremism reemerging in the American context. Charlottesville over the past few years has served as a battleground for the larger conflict between rising white supremacy and activism for racial justice.
With this said, the new and returning congressmen for both the Fifth District and the state serve more than the University and Charlottesville communities. Because of Charlottesville’s place in national politics, our congressional leaders need to mediate on a national level these fierce debates that divide us locally and as a country. The level of leadership required to serve as a public servant efficiently is peak excellence — the stakes require it and the nation watches us.
The Cavalier Daily Editorial Board is composed of the executive editor, the editor in chief and three at-large members of the paper. The board can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.