Monday, November 7, 2011

Thank god all politics isn't local

Among the wonderful legacies of segregation days here in the Old South is Virginia's peculiar election schedule, which has us voting for state and local candidates the year before the quadrennial presidential elections.
This was an innovation of the Byrd Machine, which wanted to make voting as hard as possible and thereby keep important decisions — such as who would control the state legislature and county courthouses — out of the hands of the riff-raff who came out for national elections.

So election day is tomorrow, and here in Loudoun County we have the interesting spectacle of the local Republican Party having been so completely purchased by the development industry and the loony right that you can find some of the most acerbic attacks on the Republican candidates coming from a staunchly conservative political website called "Too Conservative."

Among the parade of GOP loonies on the ballot are

  a candidate for sheriff who was shot by his girlfriend and was served with a restraining order for domestic abuse ("I was the victim," he explained, adding, "I’m not a womanizer. I tried it, I’m not very good at it")

  an incumbent candidate for county board of supervisors who runs a political action group devoted to exposing the "radical homosexual agenda" (last year he revealed that the TSA's body scanners at airports are actually "homosexual porno scanners")

  a candidate for state senate who got his start in politics on the county library board crusading against the "pornography" available on the computers in the libraries and upon his election to the general assembly spent most of his time sending plastic fetuses to fellow legislators to protest abortion (he also opposed a spousal rape bill, explaining that a woman in a nightie is asking for it: “I do not know how on earth you can validly get a conviction of a husband-wife rape where they are living together, sleeping in the same bed, she’s in a nightie, and so forth")

  the county prosecutor, up for reelection, who cost the county hundreds of thousands of dollars in legal expenses and nearly ruined the life and career of a well-regarded school assistant principal in a baseless prosecution on a completely fabricated charge of child pornography

  a school board candidate whom the same prosecutor declined to file charges against after he was arrested for spousal abuse

We are also proud home to the Republican Party local committee that sent out the tasteful picture of President Obama as a zombie with a bullet hole in his head ("a light-hearted attempt to inject satire humor," an official explained), while another recent member of the local Republican Committee routinely threatens to "beat up" people who disagree with him.

It almost makes me nostalgic for the Byrd Machine.