A Final Blow for the Virginia GOP?
The big gun rights rally has come and gone, but the political calculus on guns, and a lot more, remains the same.
Virginia Democrats have trifecta control of state government. They may still be a bit wobbly on how to use that power to its greatest effect in the House of Delegates. But the changes are coming — fast.
Some of those changes are symbolic. Passage of the Equal Rights Amendment made headlines, but a legal fight over whether the amendment is still viable is inevitable and could go on for years.
Others are more concrete.
Whether it’s passing no-excuse absentee voting, expanding and strengthening LGBT rights or banning the discredited practice of “conversion therapy,” Democrats are belatedly pushing the commonwealth into the 21st century.
And there’s nothing Virginia Republicans can do about it.
In that light, Monday’s massive crowd of 22,000 gun rights supporters can be seen both as a high water mark for the groups who’ve long organized the annual event and as a final bow for the policies they lobbied for.
Yes, thousands of people came to protest — peacefully (and cleanly). But General Assembly Democrats went back to work, spiking GOP bills to loosen gun regulations, while advancing their own proposals to further tighten them.
This is going to be the state of affairs at least until after the 2021 elections — assuming, of course, Virginia Republicans are able to stop the bleeding in their former suburban strongholds. That would be an exceedingly tall order for any political party, and that’s doubly so for Virginia Republicans, who continue to suffer under the burden of an unpopular president and a bizarre insistence on defending the indefensible.
Consider the Senate’s vote Tuesday to eliminate the Lee-Jackson state holiday and make Election Day a state holiday, instead.
A bill co-patroned by Sens. Louise Lucas (D-Portsmouth) Adam P. Ebbin (D-Alexandria) eliminates Lee-Jackson Day, created, according to the existing law’s text, “to honor Robert Edward Lee (1807-1870) and Thomas Jonathan (Stonewall) Jackson (1824-1863), defenders of causes.”
The “defenders of causes,” in this case, were heroes of a mythological Lost Cause that sought to destroy the union to perpetuate chattel slavery. Their holiday was slowly dying before the bill won Senate approval and may have disappeared on its own over time.
But Democrats are hastening its demise, passing the bill through the Senate on a 22-18 vote.
One Republican, Siobhan S. Dunnavant (Henrico), voted in favor of the bill. That should have been a huge statement from a suburban GOP lawmaker to her colleagues. But let’s not get too excited. In the fine print under the vote total, we read this….