The rise and fall of the RPV.

I think of my blog as a chronicle of the fall of the Republican Party of Virginia. That’s a realization that just hit me. Since I first started blogging about politics, five years ago, that’s been the theme. It was as clear to me then as it is now that the Republican majority is probably a fluke, and that they’re on a trajectory to lose the majority by 2009. Democrats lost 25 seats after Republicans’ 2001 redistricting, but have gained about 4.3 seats annually since 2003. Just do the math: that rate gives Dems the majority in 2009. When that happens, I guess I’m just done, chronicle completed.

Anyhow, it’s with that in mind that I’ve gotten a kick out of some of the recent news from Republicans. Thursday’s Senate budget battle was unlike anything seen in the chamber for many years now. With the most collegial Republicans largely retired, and the party now in the minority there, the remaining members have the mindset of the embattled minority that they are. So they used tricks of parliamentary procedure to slow down the budget process as much as possible, promoting a budget that’s similar to House Republicans’. That might not sound interesting, except that the past budget battles weren’t between Republicans and Democrats, but between House Republicans and Senate Republicans. As Clarke Hogan told the Post, the Senate Republicans have adopted “a more conservative bent than they have.” The House is drowning, and the Senate is throwing them an anchor.

I’m likewise pleased by the news that Jeff Frederick is looking to become the new RPV chairman. (For those playing along at home, yeah, the RPV replaces its chairman, like, weekly.) Frederick is a far-right Republican, precisely the sort of guy whose positions are losing Republicans the majority.

The other night I had a chance to chat with a dozen Republican friends and newly-made Republican friends, some of whom are pretty prominent in the world of Virginia politics. To a man, they vented frustration about how far right the party has become, about how certain they are that the state is about to have two Democrats in the U.S. Senate, and how certain they are that the HoD is about to flip to Dems. They all agreed that Republicans’ continual crunch to the right is the source of this, and all anticipate vindication in the very near future. Interestingly, several actually agree with these far-right positions, but recognize that they’re just too far out of the mainstream for the party to promote. Incidentally, some of these folks are power brokers who Mark Warner is wooing, as I’d speculated would happen.

What this all reminds me of is dot coms in 2000 and 2001, many of which didn’t merely go out of business — they crashed and burned. I think there’s something inherent about a fall from great power that makes its conclusion spectacular. It’s a belief that the thing that one has done wrong (blowing your entire advertising budget on a single ad during the Superbowl, or espousing beliefs that the majority of the state’s voters oppose) isn’t actually wrong, it’s that it wasn’t done enough. These tech businesses could see on their financial projections that if they maintained their burn rate they’d be out of business in six months. So they spent more on Superbowl ads, Aeron chairs, enormous parties and free overnight shipping of a single Hello Kitty eraser, employing the converse logic of “the hair of the dog.” (Allergic to pet dander? Eat a dog!) As Republicans steadily lose the majority to Democrats who occupy the center, they lose their own members towards the center, leaving an ever-smaller group unwilling or unable to comprehend that their beliefs might not be shared by the majority of Virginians. So ever farther from the center they go, accelerating that trend and handing control of the state to Democrats.

Keep up the good work, Senate Republicans. Vote Jeff Frederick for RPV chair!

Published by Waldo Jaquith

Waldo Jaquith (JAKE-with) is an open government technologist who lives near Char­lottes­­ville, VA, USA. more »

13 replies on “The rise and fall of the RPV.”

  1. I see a gaping hole in your logic. Political outcomes do not always follow nicely drawn trend lines. All it will take for Republicans to reclaim the Senate is for a few dopey, well-publicized votes by one or two Senate Democrats. John Miller, a man whom I greatly admire for his integrity, sits on a razor’s edge in the First District. His conservative majority district is watching his every vote, like eagles stalking prey. They are waiting to see if John Miller, who ran as a conservative Democrat, delivers on the campaign promise to work with folks on both sides of the aisle to find real solutions to the problems that we face. Here’s a hint: Universal Pre-K is not a “solution” that the People thirst for. We need jobs, solid transportation infrastructure, relief from these out of control energy costs, etc. Pre-K is way off most people’s radar.

    I have written many times that Virginians prefer their politics blended. Our citizens care less about Party labels, and base their decisions on local issues and the local personalities who cast their hats in the political ring. As a consequence, you have men like me who champion a return to a more limited, Constitutional based form of government, yet I can sometimes support positions by men I consider to be “good Democrats” like, Creigh Deeds and John Miller.

    However, do not count the GOP out, so soon. To use a sports analogy, my Republican Party has a very deep bench. The Virginia GOP has so many talented emerging political leaders, the citizens are often faced with choices between three to five superb candidates in the local primary. With the exception of Novaville, the Democrats are hard pressed to find a single man to run for each House seat.

    One of many areas where we both agree, is that my Republican Party seems to be courting disaster when they select candidates who lack broad appeal. I see the use of a Convention system, in lieu of a primary, to be a form of retreat. I still believe that Republican candidates have more of the qualities and champion the core beliefs shared by the vast majority of Virginians, yet when we nominate via convention, we tend to pick candidates with too narrow an appeal to succeed in the general election (unless, as in the case of the recent First District House race, the district is heavily gerrymandered in our favor).

    While it is fun to watch and debate the meaning of apparent trends, here in Virginia, all it takes is for a politician to take an anti-civil libertarian stand, as George Allen did with regard to domestic spying, and millions of libertarian-leaning citizens will withdraw their support. It therefore behooves politicians, whether they have a D or R next to their names, to remember that their first priority must be enhancing the liberty of our citizens.

  2. When the GOP offers up a SoCon zealot like Bob Marshall as a candidate you gotta believe they have completely lot touch with reality. Stop pandering to Christian fundies and get back in the game. The culture wars are over.

  3. I see a gaping hole in your logic. Political outcomes do not always follow nicely drawn trend lines.

    Well duh. :) Any forecast of what is to come is contingent on knowledge of what has taken place thus far and limited to the ability to project what will happen if current trends follow past trends. What you’re saying here is that sometimes bad, unexpected stuff happens and that will change stuff. Well, yeah. But if the RPV is banking on Mark Warner being caught with a live boy or a dead hooker, that’s really not much of a strategy, is it?

  4. “With the most collegial Republicans largely retired”

    I love that. If you roll over and do whatever the Democrats want, you’re “collegial”

    Every Senate Democrat voted the opposite way that the Senate Republicans did. Are there no “collegial” Democrats?

  5. If you roll over and do whatever the Democrats want, you’re “collegial”

    You’re telling me that with a Republican majority in the Senate and the House, the Republicans’ willingness to work with their colleagues towards a goal that more than a bare partisan majority could support was “rolling over and doing whatever the Democrats wanted?” Do you think it’s desirable or even possible for a bipartisan body to govern with an interest greater than that of the majority party?

    Brian, do you believe that for Republicans to regain control of the General Assembly, Webb’s seat, the governorship, etc., they must move farther to the right? I suspect I know the answer to this question already, but it’s worth asking.

  6. The Democratic budget raised taxes, raided transportation spending and lottery funds. I don’t think opposing that will get a single Republican in trouble.

    However, many of the Democrats who won last November promising how “fiscally conservative” they are (ahem, ahem) just may be.

  7. Do you think it’s desirable or even possible for a bipartisan body to govern with an interest greater than that of the majority party? Do you believe that for Republicans to regain control of the General Assembly, Webb’s seat, the governorship, etc., they must move farther to the right?

  8. Farther to the right on what? Put some actual issues to your “farther to the right” test. Democrats take money out of transportation and then raise the gas tax?

    I think opposing that kind of nonsense deserves to be opposed, don’t you?

  9. Brian, out of curiosity, do you think it’s a problem for your argument in defense of the RPV that an increasing number of Virginians every year is voting against your party? Isn’t it both arrogant and self-defeating, in the face of year after year of consecutive Democratic gains, to basically blame the voter? You don’t credit the Democrats for running good campaigns or having a functional message or agenda that is winning voter approval, and you all don’t accept any accountability for losing all these elections, either. It seems like by default, the only remaining explanation you have are that Virginians are too stupid to make what you see as an obvious choice. It further seems like voters shouldn’t respond well to you if you’re going to think they’re stupid, which is only going to make matters worse for you.

    But I’m being argumentative, when I meant to ask a question: why do you think blaming the voter is a winning strategy?

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