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March 21, 2005

Governor Warner, does he really know what "mainstream" is?

Virginia Governor Mark Warner (D) came to the PLAP 101 (Intro to American Politics) course at the University of Virginia today. As would be expected, he spoke about what has happened over the course of the last year in the commonwealth of Virginia, and said many things as one would expect. He did slip up in one place though, and paired Virginia Delegate Dick Black (R) from Loudoun with Lyndon LaRouche, a far left, perpetual third-party presidential candidate. He quickly shyed away from this subject and never fully addressed it. Needless to say, I was very displeased with this. Delegate Black is a dignified, honorable man and such a low blow to a class of students who otherwise would know nothing about him was classless. I couldn't let this go unanswered, so I wrote the governor via the state website, and the text of it follows.

I was present for Governor Warner's appearance at the American Politics course at the University of Virginia. When I arrived, I understood that he might speak of his political viewpoints. However, one comment he made was completely asinine and I was (and still am) insulted by it. He mentioned Delegate Richard Black along with Lyndon LaRouche when referring to them as extremists. Delegate Black deserves nothing less than the utmost respect. I have spoken with him a few times and know he is very pro-family, which I believe is mainstream in the state of Virginia. He served as a Marine in the Vietnam War and flew nearly 270 missions. He also spoke up when a true extremist, Michael Moore, was scheduled to speak at George Mason Univeristy and recieve thousands of dollars in tax-payers money; thankfully, GMU decided to cancel Moore's appearance. I believe that Delegate Black is a class act and a strong moral character. To assert that he is an extremist suggests that the governor does not think that my opinion is important. It was only compounded when Governor Warner said at the end that people should not be shut out just because of their viewpoint. This proved to be a hypocritical statement after his earlier assertions. While I had no problem with the rest of his speech, I was thouroughly disgusted with at least part of it. I often hear Democrats saying they want to reach out to and unite with Republicans. It is only a shame that some prove that they don't believe what they say.

I also sent this to Professor Larry Sabato, explaining my displeasure. Here is his response.

Dear [CR UVa],
   Thanks for this. I respect your viewpoint, but I also respect the Governor’s. He has as much right to make his views known as you do, and the Governor has worked with Delegate Black for four years. I can also tell you that many in Richmond, including quite a few Republican members of the General Assembly, agree with the Governor’s perspective on Mr. Black.
   The point I would urge you to consider is that in this great big democracy of ours, not everyone has to agree on everything. We should judge people as a whole, and not cross them off our list for one misstep (if indeed one considers the Governor’s comment a misstep). From the environment to education, the Governor did a superb job in AP101, and I am delighted he came. The response has been overwhelmingly positive from the students in the class.
   Having said that, I always respect a student or a citizen who stands up for what he believes. You’ve done that. Now we’ll move along to other topics come Wednesday!
   Thanks again and best wishes,

I kind of expected a response like this, and I respect Mr. Sabato for standing up for the governor. I know that Mr. Sabato has a lot of faith in our system, and fears that negative energy towards the democracy will only hinder it. Still, Mr. Sabato has made a point in class to not disparage people; he will only say good things about politicians (though he has said a few times that he has nothing to say about Nixon, but I guess that one may be a little harder to argue). I do not think it would've been unreasonable for Mr. Sabato to expect similar actions from his guest speakers (he certainly expects it from his students). He has said it himself, politicians are not to be placed on pedestals, but are to serve the people; likewise, politicians are not above us, they should not be allowed double standards.

One more thing on it; Prof. Sabato mentions that "many in Richmond...agree with the Governor’s perspective on Mr. Black." Does that make it right? I seem to remember that there was a time when many in Richmond also thought that slavery was a good idea. Just some food for thought.