I am a Virginian.  My mother was a Virginian, and so was her father. His family came to the colonies out of necessity and choice. During the English Civil War in the 1640s, my ever-so-many-great grandfather backed the losing horse (thus, establishing a long tradition in my family): King Charles I.

Years before this little altercation started, the King had given my ancestor a rather large tract of land in the new colony – not that my ancestor ever bothered to go check it out, you understand. He was pretty cosy with the life he had in Halifax, in the North of England. But then the Civil War started, and the King lost his head – literally – and my ancestor was faced with a choice: stick around and lose his head (and land and everything else) or get ye the hell out to the colonies.

(Even though my family aren’t the greatest gamblers in the world, we do have a reasonable modicum of common sense and a desire for survival).

So, that’s how Virginian I am. I couldn’t be more Virginian if I were Poca-bloody-hontas (and one of her granddaughters married into my ancestor’s family), so I’m entitled to a reasonable amount of snobbism … or rather, that pejorative synonym for it: elitism.

It is as a bona fide elitist from that most elite of the original 13 colonies, I would like to address the matter of why the Democratic candidate for governor from the Commonwealth of Virginia lost in November 2009, because a lot of netroots know-it-all HuffPo dittoes, in their infinite misinformed and discombabulated thinking, have ascertained the reason of Creagh Deeds’ s defeat incorrectly.

Put simply: Y’all are WRONG!

First of all, Bob McDonnell was not “widely popular” as some people regularly claim in HuffPo land. If anything, most logical voters viewed him suspiciously, as someone who ran as a moderate appeaser, but who had the shifty eyes of an arch-conservative in waiting to dismantle every Progressive piece of legislation enacted by the outgoing Governor, Tim Kaine.

When he appeared on the campaign trail at various times under the Confederate flag, hackles were raised along Democratic spines in alarm. The publication of ueber-regressive philosophies written in his doctoral thesis from a glorified Bible-school sent everyone’s mindset into overdrive at the regressive and repressive attitude he exhibited toward women and women’s rights. That McDonnell slickly – he exudes an image of slime trailing in his wake – excused these sentiments as a folly of youth wasn’t lost amongst the more discerning voter. 

When, exactly, does “youth” end? McDonnell was expressing these beliefs as a man of 35, when the thesis was written!!!

Nope. McDonnell appealed to Sarah Palin’s “real Virginians,” the rural residents along the south-central corridor, extending into the mountainous westside of the state – people like the Wise County constituents, dependent on travelling medical charities for their healthcare. Sarah offered him her expert campaigning skills, and he turned her down. That, it seems, was a political stroke of sheer genius.

These were the people who couldn’t reconcile themselves to the specter of a black man in the White House.

He then turned his attention to the Socialist Communist People’s Democratic Republic of Northern Virginia (so dubbed by Joe McCain, foul-mouthed brother of Senator John), subtly reminding all and sundry that he, Bob McDonnell, came from the Northern Virginia area.

As if that mattered. 

It didn’t because – and here’s the rub – the election was won by McDonnell as much as because of who didn’t vote as who did. And it was also lost, I’m sorry to say, because the Democratic Party endorsed the wrong man as candidate.

Creagh Deeds is a lovely man, but he was little known throughout the state as a whole. He was chosen by the Democratic voters from a field that included Terry McAuliffe (the high-profile Clinton operative) and Brian Moran, the brother of the popular and Progressive 8th District Congressman. McAuliffe came with the tag “Carpetbagger” (a term that still carries images of Yankees marching through the Shenandoah), and Moran, like his brother, was viewed as too far to the Left. That left Deeds a nice compromise candidate – nice, being the operative word.

Mr Nice proceeded to run one of the most negative campaigns in recent history.

That was a big mistake.

The other big mistake was simply that Virginia voters traditionally don’t turn out in droves to elect a governor. The winner of the prize can only serve one four-year term, and then he goes. The voters are savvy enough to realise that the fella in the Big Chair will only work for the first two years and then phone in for the final two, because he’ll be busy raising campaign funds for his US Senate candidacy that will take place immediately he leaves office (Chuck Robb, Macaca Allen, Mark Warner et al). Most people don’t bother voting, considering that they’ll probably be voting for whomever in four years’ time in a senatorial campaign, so McDonnell appealed to the people he knew had a vested interest in voting.

To the goobers in the rural Southern part of the state, he was the white man who’d stand up to the one who had no right to sit in the Oval Office; and to the independents, he could put hand on heart and claim to be a fiscal conservative. He rightly calculated that most of the people who didn’t vote, would be Democrats anyway, lazily complacent, and he wasn’t wrong.

First, that particular demographic which carried Obama in the state did a no-show: the college kids. Why should they? They’d participated in the ‘big one’, the Party party. They’d canvassed and registered voters and campaigned door-o-door. They’d participated in history. Now they were having a voter hangover, or they were studying for mid-terms, or both.

Either way, they didn’t show; or they couldn’t be bothered to do so. They simply couldn’t be bothered to vote for a greying, middle-aged man with a stutter, where they’d turned out in droves for a greying, middle-aged celebrity with a teleprompter.

The other demographic that won the state for Obama failed to show as well – the African American community. In fact, they were divided, with some high profiled African American Virginians, actually, endorseing McDonnell (e.g., the divine Doug Wilder, first African American governor of any state.)

So most of the African American community stayed home too.

Statistics show that in any given election, the lower the voter turnout, the more chance a Republican or an incumbent will prevail. This is exactly what happened.

And as for this being an indictment of Obama’s shortcomings as a President, after less than one year, that’s a fallacy too. In almost every voting precinct in the state, exit polls amongst independents, who voted for McDonnell, showed that the reason they voted Republican had nothing to do with President Obama’s freshman year performance and everything to do with what they perceived to be a shoddily-run campaign on the part of the Democratic candidate. In fact, almost to a person, these voters said that they wouldn’t hesitate to vote for Obama again, as President.

As Walter Cronkite and – even better – that real Virginian Bruce Hornsby would say, “That’s just the way it is” – unfortunate, coincidental, but true.

I am just pissed off and sick and tired of self-appointed pundits in the blogosphere attempting to use this election as a rod with which to beat the President; and if that conjures up images of Simon Legree or Ole Massa beatin’ the field hands, good. I want it to show that.

Because the people making the loudest wailings about the Virginia result (and, to a degree, the New Jersey one and the Massachusetts one) are the same adolescently-inclined people who are threatening to sulk out the vote in 2010 or 2012 or who are whining for some whiter than white (literally) Progressive saviour to descend from secular heaven in the form of Howard Dean or Denis Kucinich and mount a primary challenge against the President. They’re the same people demanding that the President fire his team of advisors, including his Chief of Staff and the Secretary of the Treasury and hire a whole new entourage of their own choosing – said entourage to include, again, Howard Dean and Denis Kucinich, as well as Eliot Spitzer and Elizabeth Warren.

They’re are the political innocents, mischief makers and miscreants who proclaim themselves Progressives, far superior in intellect, tolerance, open-mindedness and understanding than the Bible-bashing, gun-totin’ Republican Right, yet they want various Rightwing commentators/politicians ‘silenced’; they ban any adverse comment on certain Progressive aggregates, whilst preaching the First Amendment. When they’re told the truth by anyone in a position to know better, they either effect selective deafness or they’re arrogant enough to deem the truth a lie.

So the salutory lesson in all of this is simply this: look at what happens when you decide, for whatever reason, not to vote in an election. The fox gets in the henhouse and all hell breaks loose. McDonnell and his merry men have unleased a war against their LGBT constituents, after Tim Kaine signed executive order legislation banning any discrimination against anyone based on sexual orientation … and that’s just the start of things to come.

A helluva lot of fuck-ups can happen in four short years. Just look at the damage Bush wreaked!

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KQµårk 死神

Great post Marion. I just pointed out on MB that if as high a percentage of Americans voted in the US like they did in Iraq today we would have a government much more to our liking. As I mentioned before my wife is from Virginia and the was never prouder than when Obama won her home state.

Republicans make it a point to suppress the vote as much as possible and too many people on the left oblige them out of cynical apathy. Just imagine if 80% of the people voted we would turn into a left leaning country almost overnight.



I used to spend alot of time in Virginia when I worked for Visa International’s US Division, specifically in McClean VA. I have some very close friends in that area and we were eating dinner at one of their homes homes having. I got up to help clear the table and one of my friend’s mothers advised me not to let the plates touch each other. I was cleaning drty plates and she was worried about them touching. I just looked at her and I guess I looked quite confused because it actually turned out to be a little joke on me but she told me that in all seriousness it was an old tradition in the south that somehow if you let the bottom of one dirty plate touch the other it is seriously bad ettiquite. I never did understand that one, but I sometimes flinch when I see someone do the same thing now LOL.

Pepe Lepew

I had some very nice correspondence with people from Virginia in 2006. There was a lot of sharing of information and strategies between people working to get Jon Tester and Jim Webb elected. So, I was very impressed with Virginians through that experience. We had bets going back and forth over who would be declared the 51st Democrat in the Senate, and Jim Webb beat Jon Tester by a couple of hours. If I remember right, it was the last race called that year. I had to pay someone a 12-pack of Moose Drool over that.


Marion, you are a really talented writer! About the DNC backing the wrong horses in the race:

Dear MoveOn member,

It now looks like some Democratic Party bosses in Washington are trying to kill the grassroots effort to replace Senator Blanche Lincoln, one of the worst corporate Democrats in Washington.

Even though Lincoln has repeatedly sided with lobbyists and special interests to obstruct progressive legislation, leading Senate Democrats are vowing to close ranks in opposition to her primary challenger, Bill Halter.1

It’s time to remind the Democratic Party establishment in Washington that the party belongs to the voters, not the DC insiders. Can you sign our petition urging them to butt out?


The petition says, “Awful Democrats like Blanche Lincoln don’t deserve their party’s support. Democratic Party committees and elected officials shouldn’t spend any time or money supporting her primary campaign or attacking Bill Halter.”

Even though Democratic Party committees mainly work to re-elect incumbents, they ought to stay out when there’s a serious primary race like this one.

Bill Halter has clearly demonstrated that he’s a strong candidate with incredible support from grassroots progressives across the country. Most of us hadn’t heard of him a month ago. If the $1 million people just donated isn’t a sign of voters’ anger with corporate Democrats in Washington, then what is?

On the other hand, Blanche Lincoln consistently sides with Republicans on important legislation.2 And polls show she’s wildly unpopular back home

KQµårk 死神

She is a piece of work DailyKOS showed how she numerous times voted with Republicans with Nelson to pass Republican reconciliation bills, yet she is a terrible Democrat who won’t listen to her party leaders.


As an equal snob (Mayflower roots, doncha know) I love this, Marion! We keep coming back to the passivity of the Dems, writ large, who seem to have believed that once they broke a sweat for Obama, they never had to do anything again. Students, angry armchair critics, NY Times readers who never move – there are too many who do NOT pay attention to kesmarn’s and Mightywoof’s observation about the Right – they vote.

I know I keep pounding this drumbeat, but how do progressives think the world changes? It’s not by sneering then doing nothing. I swear from the anti-war days on, too many progressives think all they’re called to do is gripe or pontificate!

Intellectual critic Randolph Bourne wrote of the Parisian left intellectuals between WW I and WW II. He made reference to those who, during a massive workers railroad strike in France, showed their “support” by sauntering down to the nearest cafe wearing the railroad workers’ striped cap. There they held court on the importance of the movement and their solidarity with the workers – while drinking and smoking and never once getting off their collective butts.

Le plus change…


Marion, beautifully written!

Whatever the numerous flaws of the right wingers may be, they are phenomenally disciplined in one area.

They vote.


I have friends up here who never bothered to vote and then complained, loud and long, about whichever party got into Parliament. My simple response was and has always been, if you couldn’t be bothered to vote, you have no right to complain about the government. Research the issues, decide which party best represents your views and bloody turn out (in a blizzard if that’s what it takes) to put your X on the ballot. I have no time for ANYBODY that wants to take their ball away because they don’t like the game. Good post Marion (and I curtsey and tug my forelock at you 🙂 )