FLORIDA, May 22, 2013 — Over the weekend, legions of activists in the Republican Party of Virginia selected a minister named E.W. Jackson to do a very important job.
It pertains not to religious outreach or spiritual advice. No, it is far more important than that: Jackson was chosen to be the Virginia GOP’s nominee for the office of lieutenant governor.
The man has no experience in public office whatsoever. This is not always a bad thing; if successful businesspersons, earnest intellectuals, or civic-minded journalists want to run, then there is a good chance that any one of them is better than the typical career politician.
Unfortunately, Jackson’s claim to experience rests on his ministerial work. That’s about all.
How on Earth did a fellow like this land on a major party’s statewide ticket? The answer is simple: Virginia’s GOP used a convention rather than the more common primary process to determine its nominees.
The result was a candidate for Virginia’s second-highest executive office who has said that “(t)he problem in society today is not hatred of homosexuals, but hatred by homosexuals of anyone who refuses to say ‘amen’ to their sexual behavior”; “(t)he repeal of the ‘Don’t Ask Don’t Tell’ law is a disaster of historic proportions and it must be reinstated”; “I have known people who have been delivered from homosexuality”; and “New York’s decision to allow same-sex people to marry is another government sledgehammer used to shatter our Judeo-Christian culture.”
That’s not all. Not by a country mile.
This line is the real stunner: “Liberalism and their ideas have done more to kill black folks whom they claim so much to love than the Ku Klux Klan, lynching and slavery and Jim Crow ever did, now that’s a fact.” We also can’t forget this one: “I know their people say, well, ‘It’s unfair to associate homosexuality with pedophilia or some of these other perversions.’ But I believe that there is a direct connection, because what they really want is absolute sexual freedom.”
Virginia is currently a purple state and trending blue. Jackson and the hardline social right are well out of Virginia’s mainstream.
If it were not for the Virginia GOP’s decision to nominate candidates via a convention packed with hyper partisans, then this potential disaster might have been avoided. Had a primary been held, all GOP voters would have been able to decide on a nominee. Of course, this method gives moderates a serious chance to succeed.
The convention method, on the other hand, promotes radicals who often care more about making a statement than actually winning.
Until the VA-GOP chooses to embrace primaries, this nonsense will persist. The activists who dominate at convention time are seldom focused on appealing to the mainstream. They live in a world dominated not by polling data, objective news reports, or proven leadership, but emotional decision-making, one-sided editorial outlets, and following the crowd.
They care only about their ideology and its adherents, not reason and the community as a whole.
Indeed, with the nomination of E.W. Jackson — not to mention Ken Cuccinelli for governor and Mark Obenshain for attorney general — the Republican Party of Virginia has proved that it is a joke. A colossal, destructive, and depressing one, but a joke nonetheless.
Too bad the punchline is political tolerance and the rational debate it allows for.
Far-left? Far-right? Get real: Read more from “The Conscience of a Realist” by Joseph F. Cotto
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