BY J.R. HOEFT
Consider this an opportunity and a wakeup call. If President Trump’s post-election press conference is any indication, in his mind, it will be neither.
Despite an outstanding economy, strong foreign policy and two appointments to the Supreme Court, Trump and his surrogates are leaving a scorched-earth path as they progressively turn the country blue. The conservative victories of stabilizing the court for several years could easily be overturned by sending progressive leftists into the halls of power in subsequent elections.
Consider what Virginia elected this year.
All of the Democratic incumbents, including U.S. Sen. Tim Kaine and new congressional representatives, including U.S. Rep.-elect Elaine Luria, support abortion rights, higher taxes, expanding nationalized healthcare and weaker immigration laws. They will advocate for restrictions to the Second Amendment.
The Wall Street Journal reports that 64 percent of young people under the age of 24 supported Democrats and their left-wing agenda. Not exactly a surprise, but the number is still high.
What’s more telling is how Virginia’s electorate is shifting. According to the Virginia Public Access Project, an analysis of trends of voting from 2016 to 2018 reveals major chunks around northern Virginia, Richmond and Hampton Roads overwhelmingly are moving to the left. But even more so are the very limited shifts to the right, including in rural areas. Republicans are not gaining ground.
This is not a recipe for success. It’s a disaster waiting to happen.
While Republicans did hold the U.S. Senate, with pickups in Indiana, Missouri, Florida and North Dakota, those are all states where Republicans traditionally can and should win.
And, in each case, you can point to fairly flawed Democratic candidates and tangible reasons why a Republican with a pulse should win. I would also argue that those Republicans who won did so in spite of Trump.
We are a long way away from “Morning in America,” the 1984 campaign mantra of President Ronald Reagan. Reagan defeated Walter Mondale that election in a landslide, with Mondale only picking up his home state of Minnesota and D.C.
In that campaign, Reagan – who similarly to Trump presided over an expanding economy, stood up to authoritarianism and nominated Supreme Court justices – did not demean his opponents.
And he certainly did not alienate his allies. Reagan’s 11th Commandment of “Thou shalt not speak ill of any fellow Republican” is now a quaint afterthought in today’s GOP.
Just ask now-former Attorney General Jeff Sessions.
But in Virginia Beach there might be hope.
Mayor-elect Bobby Dyer is a conservative consensus builder. He wins elections not through threats or intimidation but through hard work and optimism.
“Good government should never fear an engaged and educated public, government should always embrace that opportunity,” says Dyer.
Dyer ran his campaign on simple truths – or his “radical ideas” – things like working on practical, prioritized transportation solutions, asking those who use public transit for their input on improving it, holding open and transparent budget hearings, making it easier to open new businesses, tackling the flooding problem by involving experts, requiring a super-majority to raise taxes and much more.
Hardly right-leaning lurches on hot-button topics. They’re practical ideas with an eye toward inclusivity, with full knowledge that most people are just looking for good government and opportunity.
Dyer is also a tireless worker. During the campaign, I once called him to ask a question. I figured I would be catching him traveling to an event or a campaign stop. What I didn’t expect is that he was on the way to see patients. He is a true public servant.
Though Virginia Beach local elections are not partisan contests, Dyer represents the kind of person needed in today’s GOP: mission focused and service oriented, without bombast and antagonism.
In other words, he’s kind of like Reagan. More people like Dyer = More wins for the GOP.
Pretty simple equation.
Hoeft, a retired Navy spokesperson, hosts The J.R. Hoeft Show, a weekly podcast available via jrhoeft.com. The one-time columnist for The Daily Press has been involved in or covering Virginia politics and public policy for more than two decades. He lives in the Hickory area of Chesapeake.
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