Democracy didn’t die last week, as millions of voters rejected the politics of division and hatred. The widely projected “red wave” proved to be barely a trickle, although it appears that control of the House of Representatives will change from a slim Democratic majority to an even slimmer Republican majority. Results of Congressional races in Northern Virginia were as expected: Representatives Don Beyer, Jennifer Wexton, and Gerry Connolly were re-elected, and the seat in the hotly debated 7th District, which includes part of Prince William County, was held by incumbent Democrat Abigail Spanberger. Although Virginia had no Senate races on the ballot, the United States Senate remained in Democratic hands, with the Georgia race between Senator Raphael Warnock and former football player Herschel Walker headed for a December run-off.
Candidate quality was a bone of contention in some races, and a reminder that elective politics should be about values, governance, and ability, not show business. While politics today often appears to have an entertainment edge, by virtue of social media, television interviews, and more than enough media ad buys, elective office actually is hard work. After the campaign, the congratulations, and basking in the winner’s circle, the job – at the federal, state, and/or local level — requires the winner to get down to the business of governance, policy, and constituent service. A myriad of issues, some simple but, more often, more complex, awaits a new elected official and staff, who must grasp and grapple with constituent demands, as well as political party expectations. It can be energizing at times, enervating at others, which also may describe the efforts to maintain our democracy: the fight is amazingly energetic, but also draining. The nation still is fairly evenly split, so there is more work ahead to find common ground and paths forward for members of both parties. The nationwide results on November 8, 2022 provide a foundation for that work, but it probably won’t be easy.
Just as it wasn’t easy for George Dross, a Greek national who was a Nazi prisoner of war, tortured and shot, and left for dead in his village. Rescued by members of the Greek Resistance and nurtured back to health, George eventually emigrated to the U.S. and, in 1947, opened the Jefferson Restaurant on Route 50 in Falls Church. The small Jefferson Village shopping center was one of the first in the area, but George and his family persevered, and eventually renamed the restaurant JV’s, where it still stands and provides live entertainment nearly every night of the week, a sort of neighborhood “Cheers’” with a very long provenance. JV’s (jvrestaurant.com) is operated today by Lorraine Campbell, George’s daughter, who has continued her Dad’s support and commemoration of war veterans and prisoners of war. Décor at JV’s reflects that support, with military memorabilia, including huge dog tags hanging in one corner of the room, and many posters and Rolling Thunder motifs. Contrasting the patriotic theme are the guitars and other musical instruments that reflect JV’s continuing presence on the music scene – a small but important venue for local and not-so-local bands. JV’s is celebrating its 75th anniversary this year, a remarkable milestone for any local business, but an especially poignant one as we celebrate the resilience and preservation, for now, of our democracy.