Local Commentary

The Next Two Local Debates

Let’s hope the next round of candidate forums — starting tonight — throw more light onto the Falls Church City Council and School Board elections, now underway, than we’ve seen so far. Despite the best efforts of the City’s formidable League of Women Voters chapter, hosting online forums for both races and an information-laden five-page spread in this paper last week, we fear that citizens of our election-happy berg (Falls Church has almost always had the highest voter turnout in the state) still may not be sufficiently clear about who’s who and what’s what on the ballot.

The Falls Church registrar notes that over 630 have already cast ballots under new no-excuse early voting rules, which obliterates all previous voting records with the exception of presidential elections. It will always mystify us why so many more people feel the urge to vote for president, an office the greatest of remoteness from their own lives, than for City Council or School Board, where their voices can be heard loudly, where new stop lights or crosswalks in front of their houses can be ordered, perhaps saving lives in immediate neighborhoods.

Is it something to do with our national character, or with the nature of democracy, itself? A great subject for divining a definitive answer, and even better, a corrective. But perhaps it is in our human DNA to feel more compelled to impact the biggest picture possible. In that case, it may not be a bad thing at all to seek to drive our entire species forward.
As in all things taken to the grandest level, however, there is likely to be considerable error. Thank heavens that, on balance, the vast American electorate has gotten it right more than wrong over 250 years in its presidential choices, even if stumbling blocks have been allowed to persist, such as in the case of the outdated Electoral College, which under criminal influences like Trump and those hoping to capitalize on his evil machinations make us vulnerable for the worst. People too quickly forget that without the safeguards of democracy, and with sufficient empowerment for good people to prevail, lives can quickly descend into terror, mass jailings, tortures, genocides and world wars. History is pretty plain about that.

So in this election, Falls Church voters have choices before them ranging from the Virginia gubernatorial race which, in the candidacy of Republican Glenn Youngkin, has now become a surrogate for Trump’s reelection plans in 2024, and local City Council and School Board races where where pro-Trump GOPers aim to spread the Trump poison, if not by violent interventions like those we’ve seen in Fairfax and Loudoun.

In this context, we cannot allow obfuscation and appeals to “Falls Church Nice” cloud our powers of discernment. Tonight’s forum and next Thursday’s, hosted by the Citizens for a Better City, will hopefully bring us closer to the actual nature of things, and help voters make good choices.