A Response to Travis E. Witt’s Letter to Virginia Republicans

Travis E. Witt, 5th District State Central Committeeman, asks a good question in his missive to Virginia Republicans released today.  “Where is the condemnation?”

That’s a good question.

Where was the condemnation when Ken Cuccinelli poured resources and staffing into the 2012 State Central Committee races, packing the committee with supporters who overturned the decision to nominate our statewide candidates in 2013 by primary?  Where is the condemnation for the activists who tried to hoot down the Republican Majority Leader while he was speaking to the 7th District convention Saturday?  Where is the condemnation for the units across the Commonwealth who have reacted to the unfair, but legal, slating process by overturning valid actions of conventions and seating delegates who were not elected?  Where is the condemnation for ignoring the rule of law?

And where is the condemnation for the steady stream of falsehoods, personal attacks, bitter vitriol and divisiveness being poured forth from Mr. Witt and assorted other voices in Virginia who have spent more time, effort and energy attacking fellow Republicans than they have in fighting Barack Obama, Mark Warner and Terry McAuliffe?

That our party has, once again, devolved into bitter factional fighting is truly disappointing.  At a time when we need to be united in our campaigns against the Democratic Party, we are, instead, hurling insults at each other.  History repeats itself, and we find ourselves again in internecine warfare.  And it’s all so unnecessary.

The attacks on Eric Cantor have been vicious and unfair.  The attacks on anybody willing to stand up and call the attacks on Eric Cantor vicious and unfair have been even worse.   The claims that anybody who supports the Majority Leader is unprincipled, power hungry, being paid or groveling for position are disgusting, unfair and untrue.  Nobody should have their motives questioned, especially not when they are simply supporting one of the leaders of the Republican Party nationally and in Virginia.

I am a principled Republican – and one of the most fundamental principles that I have lived my life by is fairness.  And when I see someone being unfairly attacked, regardless of party, I will defend them.  I have never been afraid to stand up for what is right and stand against what is wrong.  And what Travis Witt, Jamie Radtke, John Pudner and many others have been doing to Eric Cantor is wrong.

There are no clean hands in this fight.  I don’t believe that most Republicans approve of the slating process that was used in Virginia Beach and elsewhere, but I also don’t believe they approve of the tactics being used to respond to slating.  The treatment that some Republicans in the party have had at the hands of others has been shameful, and it’s time that all Republicans stand up and say we’ve had enough.

Enough of the attacks.  Enough of the hateful rhetoric.  Enough of the lies and innuendo.

Eric Cantor is a good man, and he’s a good Republican.  He’s been a leader nationally and in Virginia.  No, he isn’t perfect and I certainly don’t agree with him on every policy position he has ever taken, but to blame him for trying to do what he believes is right is bad.  It ensures that no politician, at any level, will be willing to make tough decisions and do the right thing, even if that thing is unpopular. There was a time in American life when political courage was rewarded.  Today, it’s mocked and scorned.  That’s a tragedy.

A Cantor defeat on June 10th does send a message – it sends the message that the Republican Party has truly lost its way.  That the only way to win as a Republican in an intraparty fight is to feed the flames of anger and animosity, to turn your opponent into an evil caricature, and turn your campaign into a crusade.  That’s not what politics and governance should be about.  We have done that before, and we’ve been repudiated at the polls by the voters when we’ve done it.

As a Republican, I want effective leaders who understand what the role of government is and should be, who are willing to work hard and work smart to solve the problems we all face, and who will listen to their constituents and use their best judgment to do the right thing.  Anything else is empty rhetoric.

It is time that all Republicans stand up to the hatred and demand more – not just from our elected Representatives, but also from our Party Officials.  Travis Witt’s letter is not only inappropriate, it demonstrates a lack of good judgment.  It doesn’t deserve praise. It should be a wake-up call to Republicans in the 5th District that they’ve chosen unwisely.  We should expect the people we elect to manage the Republican Party of Virginia to do so responsibly.  You can’t manage the party when you’re tearing it down from the inside.

It’s time that rank-and-file Republicans stand up to the hatefulness in our midst and demand better.  If we don’t, we will have no one to blame but ourselves. 

Brian W. Schoeneman
Private Citizen.