Just when you thought …
Just when we all thought we had reached rock bottom, someone finds a new bottom. This last week, Virginia Democrat legislators announced they would boycott the event if the president came to Virginia to help us celebrate the 400th anniversary of the first permanent English settlement at Jamestown. What a silly embarrassment for them, for our history, for representative government. Essentially saying — if we don’t like something, we are going to throw a temper tantrum.
To explain how we got to this point, let me give you a brief history. The Jamestown-Yorktown Foundation was founded by the General Assembly decades ago to extend the knowledge of our history and our form of government. Over those decades, not only have they created sites where folks could bring their families to learn firsthand about our rich history, but also to bring that history to teachers in their classrooms in school districts throughout Virginia that lacked the resources to travel to Jamestown and Yorktown.
The board of Jamestown is made up of diverse individuals, both racial and ethnic. We are proud that Chief Atkins is one of the longer serving members. Some come from educational institutions, others from the business world around the Commonwealth, as well as senior legislators from both political parties. I am honored to serve as a member. In the last several years, there has been an ongoing effort to explain our history from all three perspectives — Colonists, Natives and Africans.
The Foundation has taken the lead bringing this history alive. It led the effort to celebrate the 375th Anniversary and in the planning of this year’s 400ths Anniversary. The planning has been in the making for years, for we knew the eyes of the nation would be on this significant celebration. As well, in just a few weeks, there will be a ceremony at Fort Monroe where the attention will be on the first Africans arriving.
As the plans were being made, this president had not even been elected. And, for planning purposes, it made no difference who was elected, the president was going to be invited. The Governor, the Speaker of the Virginia House of Delegates, and the Majority Leader of the Senate sent invitations to President Trump and to Speaker Pelosi to join us in this ceremony. Speaker Pelosi declined; the president accepted. Then and only then did the leadership of the Democrat party decide that they wanted to stir up political controversy. I guess they wanted to prove they could be just as petty and ridiculous as those in Washington.
Quoting Majority Leader Norment, “In order to conduct any business, the Senate of Virginia requires a majority of senators be in attendance, and the Republican Caucus is the majority caucus. Yet despite the credible and deeply disturbing allegations made against our chamber’s presiding officer, Lt. Governor Fairfax, no senator of either party boycotted a single session. We fulfilled our duty to the Commonwealth and the citizens we are entrusted to serve.” Additionally Norment stated, “Next month, Governor Northam will address a joint meeting of the Senate Finance Committee, the House Appropriations Committee, and the House Finance Committee on the current state of the Commonwealth’s finances.” He continued, “I am unaware of any legislator who has indicated they will not be attending the joint meeting because the Governor refused their Caucus’s call to step down. Calls by both Democratic caucuses for the resignations of Governor Northam and Lt. Governor Fairfax did not deter the leaders of the House and Senate Democratic Caucuses – and many Democratic legislators – from participating in the Governor’s June 4 news conference where he was flanked by the Lt. Governor and Attorney General Herring.”
The overriding question is, why this political posturing other than to please their billionaire supporters who are dumping millions into Virginia.
There is a place and time for all things. Temper tantrums and boycotts should not distract from recognizing and honoring our history. Hopefully, more mature members of the Democrat Caucus will show leadership. If not, we will know the big out of state money is calling the shots, and this is what we can expect as we move forward.
Frank Ruff represents Lunenburg in the state Senate. His email address is Sen. Ruff@verizon.net.