There are some electioneering phrases signaling snake oil. Where I live, you hear one nearly every presidential year. To be qualified, "electable" or just plain acceptable a candidate must be "from here," some say. Northerners need not apply. Westerners either. In the 2004 presidential primary, the John Edwards campaign played that card. In an upended, Southern strategy, his field director said we needed "a southerner with a southern accent" to win." Now regional bias has reared its ugly head with respect to the Virginia Democratic LG primary.
In his speeches and those of his supporters, one Democratic candidate presents few real reasons why we should elect him. Instead we hear a laundry list of vagaries. He’s a "man of faith" and "believes in hard work." He’s also a family man. And he’s "from here." Pass the snake oil. Person of faith? Believes in hard work? Who isn’t and who doesn’t? Is this candidate suggesting that his faith is better than the others? Family man? Sounds like code language to me. But you know his campaign is accomplishment and idea bankrupt when you hear the "from here" justification. And you suspect the candidate has no respect for us.
If the 9th (Congressional) District Caucus a couple weeks ago was any indication, all but three of about 100 people present bought this nonsense. Are we so provincial as to claim that, in contested primaries, no residents of NOVA need apply for downstate votes? How, in the 21st Century, has it come to this? Have we learned anything of tolerance and acceptance? Ironically, even as voters shut out other candidates from their consideration, they complain that the other candidates ignore the 9th! It’s not true, but if it were, would it be any wonder?
"From here" is the wrong reason to choose any candidate. In the LG race, cast our net too narrowly and we’ll lose the most qualified candidate for the job. Whatever reasons Democrats choose to support one candidate or another, let it be the issues, experience, legislative record, and platform. Our state’s future is too important to sell us short.
We are one America and one Virginia. But just as many of us are working to unify Virginia, biases undermine us. If Democrats can’t or won’t role model openness, then we are not real Democrats. Finally, the contorted logic of regional bias will be exposed this Nov. By 9th District Dems' own criteria, Democrats here "should" vote for Jerry Kilgore for governor. He is, unfortunately, "from here."