Court and Country in the Old Dominion
The legacy media crowed mightily in the wake of Virginia flipping blue in the November elections for state delegates and senators. Suspect reasons were trotted out by the likes of the Washington Post and other left leaning legacy media outfits. Virginia’s relatively high foreign-born population, depending on the source somewhere between 12.5% and 16%, was credited with tipping the scales for Democrats in many house and senate districts. Others in the legacy media cited disgust with Trump who horrified moderate and genteel republicans. A few insightful local commentators pointed out that the GOP, who raised Virginians’ taxes three times in ten years, were asking for it. In any other state, the GOP would have lost power a long time ago. An alternative analysis suggest that what is happening is part of an older and deeper trend long present in American politics and easily obscured by the two-party system.
The oldest and most significant conflict in American politics is not primarily racial, or religious, or class based. It is the conflict between the centers of consolidated political and economic power and the periphery. Examples are well known to students of American history. The battles between crown and colony culminating in the War for Independence. Within colonial North Carolina and South Carolina, the backcountry regulators struggled with distant and unsympathetic colonial and royal elites in Charleston and New Bern. Shays Rebellion, the Whiskey Rebellion, the Hartford Convention, the Nullification Controversy, the Late Unpleasantness and the Populist Movement all bore the stamp in large part of being movements of resistance emerging from the periphery and directed against the center.
In the case of the Old Dominion this election year, the center won a convincing victory. While the Democratic Party likes to portray itself as the party of the oppressed, the marginalized, and the forgotten, the truth is a bit more complex. True, the Democrats enjoy the allegiance of many folks who are members of ethnic minorities or view themselves as people on society’s margins. It is also, however, and most especially in Virginia, the party of wealthy, highly educated, elite white folk. Indeed, the Democrats have lost a key constituency, working class white folk, to the Republicans. I suspect this causes great consternation among country club Republicans, and enormous relief from the Democrats. In Virginia, large numbers of these po’ white folk live in the rural areas and small towns of the state—at least the ones not yet gentrified by the hordes pouring forth from the District of Columbia. These good people tend to be suspicious of politicians and government, they are ardent supporters of low taxes and the second amendment, and they have short patience with Wall Street and the lords of finance, tech, and multinational industry who the country party suspects, and rightly so, are welfare kings and queens on a gigantic scale. The Democrats made their peace with banksters and the warfare-welfare state, not so Johnnius Reddus Neckkus Americanus.
On their website, Blue Virginia published a very useful map comparison to illustrate exactly what is happening in the politics of the Old Dominion. The maps compare the results of this year’s election with the election of 1993, the last time the Democrats held a majority in the state house.
In 1993, the Democrats controlled large areas of Virginia’s rural piedmont, the Southside, and nearly all the Tidewater. Most of these people were Southern Democrats back then and supported the second amendment, states rights, and local governance. No more, the Democracy is now contained primarily within urban and suburban areas and some college towns such as Roanoke and Charlottesville. These urbanized and suburban areas are so densely populated they easily overwhelm the country districts. The new and powerful coalition emerging in Virginia’s Democratic Party is centered on the courts of Washington D.C. in the Northern Virginia suburbs, the state capital of Richmond and its surrounding suburbs, and the military industrial complex centered around the lower peninsula cities of Williamsburg, Norfolk, and Hampton Roads. The coalition is built upon those who are dependent upon taxpayer dollars either via direct payment or through government contract. Given the general affluence of the D. C. suburbs, Richmond, and the Peninsula, direct welfare payment recipients are most likely outnumbered by politicians, government workers, people who work for firms who do business with the federal and state government, firms who facilitate government business, and even military personnel in the ranks of the Democratic Party. It also true that the center of influence and power in the Democratic Party lay with the elite. In other words, these ain’t yo’ daddy’s Democrats.
The chief priorities of the Democratic Party heading into next year’s legislative session are telling. Governor Ralph Northam is intent on expanding and securing abortion rights, that lovely euphemism for killing pre-born children, and restricting access to firearms. These two issues, as fate would have it, are near and dear to the people who inhabit the country, except the country party’s position is directly opposed to that of the governor and his party. No doubt, the country can be expected to be punished by the court with a host of taxes and regulations and the country folk can expect to have their faith in God and their heritage mocked and insulted. To see what is coming down the road, Virginia need look no farther than across the Potomac to its sister state Maryland and take note. This is what happens to local and state politics with the imperial capital, Washington, D. C. so near at hand.
Too bad Maryland does not rescind the old land grant, as Virginia did, that created the imperial capital in Foggy Bottom. Then, perhaps, the federal court could relocate to Philadelphia, New York, St. Louis, or perhaps Boulder, CO. I understand the elite like to ski. As for the GOP, you refused to reduce the size of federal and state government when you had the opportunity to do so. You have only yourselves to blame for your sad electoral fate. What then will the country do? Will a type of regulator, patriot, or populist movement arise in the countryside of Virginia? Perhaps, but what we do know, to misquote Mr. Jefferson, the court is in the saddle and they shall ride us hard.
11/25/2019 08:16:38 pm
Mr Devanny, thank you for an excellent essay. As the brilliant, late Will Grigg wrote, woe be to us when the 'parasite class' votes itself into power.
Meade Skelton Haufe
12/21/2019 09:00:46 pm
I live in the city of Richmond and I fully support 2nd amendment rights. I voted for Trump in 2016, and will vote again for him in 2020. Not all us city dwellers are liberals, but unfortunately, the leftists tend to dwell in our cities.
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John Francis Devanny Jr. writes and teaches in Front Royal, Virginia when he is not hunting, fishing, or otherwise messin’ around with his bird dog.