Duty alone compels me to vote today

Since today is election day, and Virginia has one of the two races for Governor, I’ll vote tonight on my way home from work. We have no other ballot issues that I’m aware of, so it’ll just be the three major offices and my delegate. Here are the choices and my decision:

Governor: Virginia is generally quite conservative on national politics, but somehow, a more moderate appeal sets in when the fight is for Governor. We had Democratic governors throughout the 1980s and early 1990s. George Allen and Jim Gilmore broke that string, but Mark Warner, our current governor, is a Democrat. That doesn’t mean far-left liberals can get elected, but voters will elect a Democrat. I hope we do so again this year.

I have no real affinity for Tim Kaine, the Democratic nominee. He’s riding on Gov. Warner’s remarkable popularity in Virginia. That may be enough, especially when President Bush’s approval rating in Virginia is below 50%. That’s monumental. Again, I hope it’ll be enough.

As for why, I already announced that I will not vote for Republican Jerry Kilgore because his campaign has been sleazy beyond any rational expectation. I don’t want anyone like that in the Commonwealth’s highest executive position. Given that there is little difference between Mr. Kaine Mr. Kilgore on economic and transportation issues, I see no reason to regret my decision. I don’t have high hopes if Kaine is elected, but I suspect he’ll keep the state a few inches further from the excess moral legislating we’ve seen in recent years. Kaine it is, even if it’s a reluctant vote.

Lieutenant Governor: This is an easy one, only because the office of Lieutenant Governor means little in the realm of Virginia politics. The primary aim for any Lt. Gov. is statewide name recognition for the Governor’s race in four years. In terms of this race, I’m not worried about four years from now. Hopefully the Republicans will nominate someone more interested in limited government than government control of personal lives. Democrat Leslie Byrne opposes the Virginia right-to-work law, which prohibits mandatory union participation. I strongly disagree with her on that, but her opponent, Republican Bill Bolling, beat her on my scale of political sins for which I can’t cast a vote, support for marriage amendments to the state Constitution. Workers in a union shop can always quit in a free society. Gays and lesbians can’t. No contest, Mrs. Byrne gets my reluctant vote, with the caveat that she won’t likely get it in 2009. (Hint, hint Republicans Libertarians)

Attorney General: This one should be interesting. The only difference I can decipher between Republican Bob McDonnell and Democrat Creigh Deeds is abortion. I don’t need to explain their opinions, I think. On every other issue, they’re the same. Regarding the Second Amendment, which is HUGE in Virginia, Mr. Deeds sponsored the state constitutional amendment protecting the right to hunt and fish. He’s so “strong” on the Second Amendment that he received the NRA endorsement over Mr. McDonnell. In Virginia, that’s surprising and will influence many. Personally, I don’t like guns, but I like the Constitution more. The Second Amendment is there, so it’s not going away. I don’t much worry about the politics behind it.

The deciding issue for me between Mr. Deeds and Mr. McDonnell is same-sex marriage. Neither is for it, but that’s not a surprise in Virginia. When I was a kid growing up in Richmond, a survey of local business leaders found a prevailing opinion within the city that Richmond was twenty years behind the times… and proud of it. That extends to much of Virginia politics, particularly social issues. The rest of the state mimics Richmond in that regard, excluding Northern Virginia to a degree. I didn’t expect the same-sex marriage opinion to change in time for this election. Neither candidate disappointed, as both support amending the state Constitution to “defend” marriage. This contest is a draw, with neither getting my vote.

Delegate: I’m voting against my delegate, knowing that he’ll be re-elected. Like much of the country, Virginia’s Republicans and Democrats gerrymandered the state to guarantee re-election. That’s bad for government, but it’s not changing between now and 7pm tonight. Considering my delegate loves the marriage amendment, I say no thanks. Also, his campaign sends fliers and letters and postcards to my house every day. Enough already. I can read. Trust that I read the first one. If your record is good (it’s not), I’ll feel confident. If it’s not (did I mention that it’s not?), you remind me every day not to vote for you. Brilliant strategy.

What candidates can learn from this is that I’m cynical about both major parties, but understand that this is the system we have. I can look for nuance. When you offer none, you won’t likely enjoy the results, whether short-term (Republicans) or long-term (Democrats). No vote this year is a party-loyal vote, all three will be lesser-of-two-evils votes. And the special lesson from the Attorney General race is that traditional marriage amendments are a deal-breaker. When you support that nonsense, you’re attacking my family directly. That’s stupid politics.

Update: I need to change my remarks to reflect new information that Mr. Kaine’s opinion shifts. Apparently, he supports a marriage amendment, as long as it doesn’t include civil unions (which he also doesn’t support). I think. It seems he supports many different versions, all seemingly politically expedient to the intended audience. I can’t say I’m shocked, but it frustrates me. I don’t want to vote for either, since both Kaine and Kilgore seem ignorant of the purpose of government, i.e. not legislating a slippery definition of morality. I guess I’ll find out in the voting booth if I can actually push the button for Mr. Kaine. If I do, I’m only revising my earlier statement that support for traditional marriage amendments is a deal-breaker to include an exemption for the lesser-of-two-evils for the Commonwealth’s highest office when the other candidate ran a despicable series of ads. Why does Virginia suck so much?

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