Commentary, National Commentary

Senator Dick Saslaw’s Richmond Report

We are a little more than a month out from the mid-term Election Day of November 8. This is a critical election cycle with significant consequences for our nation hanging in the balance. Close to home in less than a year, Virginians have seen the great reveal of the Republican Agenda. It is predicated on perpetuating social and cultural wars while fielding candidates to unwind state law that conflicts with their power grab scheme. We are witnessing how well that is working with a stacked Supreme Court and a steady effort to capture state government houses with candidates championing the big lie.

Governor Youngkin has strategically positioned himself as a potential national candidate at the expense of Virginians – assailing children, women, the environment, public and higher education. His pathway to the future is to rewind legislation and /or circumvent the intent of duly elected lawmakers in the General Assembly. The continuous berate of previous administrations reflects a “back(ward) to the future” vision for the Commonwealth.

Unabashed, Governor Youngkin is traveling the country in support of extreme candidates that align with the most hard right conservative Republicans. His magnetic attraction to support these throwback candidates under the auspices of the “Great Divider “ is a deliberate courting . Is there any more compelling reason to cast your vote for our proven Democratic leaders in the region?

Recently, Attorney General Myares formed an Election Integrity Unit in the office of the Attorney General. The mission of this 20 person unit is to ensure “purity and integrity” of the electoral process in the Commonwealth. All this manpower and funding dedicated to casting doubt on Virginia’s elections sets the stage for future elections even before those ballots are printed. Don’t you find it a little disingenuous there is not a single shred of evidence of voter fraud in VA and the republican ticket did not contest their victories in 2021?

During the 2020 and 2021 General Assembly, we passed legislation that makes it easier for citizens to vote. I repeat, easier- not less secure. The Commonwealth expanded no-excuse mail absentee voting, early in-person voting, and passed the Voting Rights Act of Virginia, which is designed to prevent voter discrimination by local election officials. It begs the question why Republicans fear the power of voters exercising their most fundamental right in a democracy. Mind you, many Americans made the ultimate sacrifice to ensure that right.

Make a plan to ensure our democratic process. Early voting in the Commonwealth began September 23 and will continue through Saturday, November 5. Check on the status of your voter registration – including change of address. Voter registration cards are being sent to individuals noting precincts and locations for in person voting on election day.

Our region is represented by some of the most thoughtful and compassionate individuals. Don Beyer, Gerry Connolly and Jennifer Wexton have proven to be outstanding leaders. The choice is clear. Democrats look for solutions to problems, putting constituents and the nation first. By contrast, the Republican Party continues its mission to detract, distract and dismantle the progress we have made since the President has taken office.

Riding the “rewind wave,” the Youngkin Administration has announced model education policies calling for the public outing of transgender students amongst other strident reversals from current policy. Our schools should be “safe zones” for students and the environment where they can thrive. Despite discrimination, potential physical harm and mental health issues, his agenda item is flat our wrong, misguided and bigoted. Thousands of people have posted their thoughts during this 30 day comment period.

The recent hurricanes are sharp reminders of potential flooding along Virginia’s coast and in low lying communities. In 2020 legislation was passed authorizing Virginia to join the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative. The law was intended to aggressively reduce carbon emissions and provide options to utilities to meet those goals. One of the benefits of our participation includes millions of dollars that should be used to reduce flooding in our streets and lower energy costs. Pull back the curtain and you will see this Governor looking for ways to circumvent the law at the same time he is promising relief to flooded communities. Our Commonwealth cannot afford to live in the past when it is facing the challenges of the present, especially aging infrastructure indifferent to realities of climate change.

We certainly have our work cut out for us during the 2023 General Assembly. Rest assured I will continue to fight for Virginia’s future based on lessons from the past.