The recent election in Virginia has been examined and discussed, as referenced in this Washington Post article, by many as to reasons for the unexpected results. What does this portend for the 2022 elections and possible loss of party control currently held by the Democrats? How does this affect Biden’s re-election with this lack of coattail effect?
But more important to me is WHY did Virginians reject the better known and financed McAuliffe campaign with endorsements from the former and current president, the vice president and numerous out-of-state surrogates traveling to Virginia?
But for military service and attending law school at Howard University in Washington D.C., I have lived in Virginia my entire life.
Virginians are proud and independent thinking people. In my campaigns, I knew that the people preferred to hear from me, not surrogates, and they let me know it. I politely discouraged people who wanted to come here to appear with me.
I think there is an unexpressed reason subliminally shared by many. That is “Bossism” and Machine Politics.
As a youngster, I heard my father, in parlor or back porch discussions with friends, rail of his fierce opposition to the Byrd Machine. He was referring to Harry F. Byrd, former Governor and U. S. Senator from VA, and viewed as the “Father of the Byrd Machine” known to control the politics of VA “from the courthouse to the White House”. Our constitution forbids a governor from succeeding a four-year term in office; yet not prohibited from leapfrogging, as was the situation with McAuliffe.
He publicly declared the current Governor, Lt. Governor and Attorney General morally unfit to serve, and called for their immediate resignations from office.
Though there were qualified aspirants who were planning to seek the top seat, he deemed none of them qualified, though they had more experience than he in elective office when he ran; and had never lost an election.
This could have been perceived as opening the door to benign “Bossism” by leapfrogging, and it planted the seeds of Machine Politics long ago dismantled in VA by law and/or practice.
I came into political service as the Byrd Machine was diminishing. I organized the Democratic Black Caucus of VA primarily to ensure a “seat at the table” when decisions affecting the Commonwealth were being made. We ushered in a system of inclusion of the people and also founded the Legislative Black Caucus to be present and participate in the enactment of laws governing the people.
Bossism or Machine Politics should not be insidiously reseeded in our Commonwealth, and the voters might have decided not to water what was the initial planting thereof.
This year qualified aspirants for the office were discouraged to do so and told by McAuliffe supporters they should “wait until the appropriate time”. This translates into “Wait ‘til we say so”. If I had followed that advice, I doubt whether that time would have come. This, among other reasons previously considered, may have dampened the enthusiasm, which obviously was lacking. People are usually ahead of leaders, and this might be another example thereof.