Virginia Democrats — who expect to take control of the General Assembly after the upcoming elections on Nov. 5 — have put forth a progressive agenda to make significant changes to the Commonwealth’s laws and economy. Former governor and shady businessman Terry McAuliffe, D-Va., recently asserted that Democrats “are going to make Virginia a new state.” However, such a radical change demands some form of justification — which progressives have yet to articulate in any logical manner. Policy initiatives including increasing gun control, ratifying the Equal Rights Amendment and raising the minimum wage would damage the character and economic climate of the state. Come Election Day, Virginians must reject efforts to model our Commonwealth after the failures of California, New York and other progressive strongholds. Incursions into the freedoms of Virginians will invariably prioritize the interests of progressive elites over the needs of the Commonwealth and its people.
The Founding Fathers — in their great wisdom — ensured the Constitution protected the inalienable right of self-defense in the Second Amendment of the Bill of Rights. Virginians have long benefitted from the state government’s relative lack of interference in the exercise of these rights. However, a Democratic legislature enabled by disgraced Gov. Ralph Northam, D-Va., would seek to erode those protections. The need for self-defense may not be as pressing in the safe, rich neighborhoods that many of these politicians come from, but for Virginians in high crime and rural parts of the state, law enforcement cannot always arrive in time. Additionally Virginia already has relatively low levels of gun violence compared to other states like Maryland in which stricter gun control has failed to curtail firearm-related deaths.
Moreover, mass shootings have plagued our nation and Commonwealth in recent years. However, calls to diminish individual liberties fail to account for the root cause of these tragedies. According to the National Institutes of Health, mass media coverage of events like suicides and mass shootings play a pivotal role in their imitation and propagation. While certain measures to prevent those with criminal records and other conditions from accessing firearms remains a proactive strategy to prevent violence, efforts to erode Second Amendment protections only seek to take agency away from ordinary citizens.
Another initiative Democrats have outlined in their goals includes the ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment. A measure to ratify the ERA failed in the General Assembly last year — largely, but not exclusively, along party lines. The name of the proposed amendment itself is benign and at face value affirms quintessentially American principles, but Democrats have failed to account for the consequences of complicating Constitutional language that already guarantees equal protection under the law. As precedents protecting women currently stand, women’s shelters can receive federal funding and exclude men from entering them. Should Virginia or another state ratify the ERA, such exclusions designed to protect vulnerable women could be endangered. Further implications of ERA ratification include changing divorce law in ways that would not favor women and may complicate the process through which wives and widows receive Social Security benefits.
An additional policy goal of Democrats — despite pushback from some members of their own party — is the implementation of a state-wide minimum wage of $15. While I applaud efforts to fairly compensate workers, such as University President Jim Ryan recent announcement that a $15 minimum wage would be expanded to almost all U.Va. workers and employees — unfortunately, not every business enjoys the same financial position as the University. Small businesses — the primary drivers behind economic growth and the expansion of opportunity — will bear the brunt of such a policy. Progressive strongholds that have increased their minimum wage have shown how employers suffer and disadvantaged communities, in turn, suffer the most when small businesses close or reduce their hiring.
Virginians cannot afford one-party rule in the Commonwealth. Look no further than Charlottesville for the negative consequences of electing one progressive after another to govern over the fortunes of the city. Poor governance here — more focused on advancing progressive talking points than effective leadership — has resulted in a broken city rife with tensions simmering under the surface of what local leaders and voters want to portray as a progressive utopia.
Progressives and conservatives offer different visions for America and for Virginia. They come from different philosophical origins and, increasingly, from different worlds. The Wall Street Journal reported on the growing divide between the rich, progressive urban centers of the nation and the poorer, conservative rural areas of America. Traditionally, Virginia’s political landscape has enjoyed balance and competition. Both Democrats and Republicans won the governorship over the past several decades, and the General Assembly — while leaning Republican — maintained strong representation from both parties. However, with political power shifting north towards the suburbs of Washington, D.C., the likelihood of one-party rule continues to increase. While such governance may protect the interests of the rich counties of Northern Virginia, the rest of the state is in danger of being disregarded if not actively undermined.
Tom Ferguson is an Opinion Columnist for The Cavalier Daily. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.