Virginia Capitol Connections Summer 2022

Virginia Capitol Connections, Summer 2022 13 There’s nothing quite like doom-scrolling on Twitter to make you lose all hope for mankind. Or watching cable television news, for that matter. I’ve followed politics for a long time—long enough that I remember when Walter Cronkite told people every night what the news was and let them make up their own minds about what they’d just heard. Now we have entertainers—I won’t dignify them with the title of “journalist”—shouting back and forth every night. The more outrageous they can be, the better the ratings. It’s often enough to make me wonder how long our republic can last. How can we hope to govern a country that is not only divided, it’s so divided that it can’t even agree on the basic facts, much less what to do with them? I’m not the only one: Former Labor Secretary Robert Reich writes this week in The Guardian: “The second American CivilWar is already happening.” Perhaps his answer to the question the The New York Times posed earlier this year: “Are We Really Facing a Second CivilWar?”Along those same lines, Business Insider this spring identified “3 StatesWhere A Second American Civil War Could Start.” Discount the news media chattering if you want, but last year the august Brookings Institution raised the same question: “Is The US Headed for Another CivilWar?” Sometimes the conditions do seem a little too ripe. Just as in 1860, our divisions are increasingly geographical. And neither side seems inclined to compromise on whatever the issue of the day might be, perhaps the result of that geographical polarization that creates too many districts that are really one-party districts where it’s easier for more extremist candidates to win. The events of Jan. 6, 2021, should serve as a warning. And that doesn’t seem like some isolated event, either. Sometimes, to judge by what I see on social media or certain news channels, it seems that the other side—however you define the other side—is a dangerous, potentially treasonous horde that’s out to The side of politics more people should see. Plus, Gov. Glenn Youngkin calls for “grace in the public discourse.” By DWAYNE YANCY undermine the very foundations of the nation and impose its malicious will on anyone who dares disagree. All those one-party districts only exacerbate that because those candidates never have to compromise on anything. On the contrary, compromise is something that will get you primaried—and replaced by someone further left or further right. But then, whenever I hang around some politicians, my faith in the country is usually restored. Yes, you read that right. There are certainly politicians we’d be better off without. By and large, though, I am generally impressed that the politicians—at least the ones I know best in the General Assembly—are far more civil with one another than many of the constituents they represent are with each other. I wish more people could see that side of politics. Maybe Washington is different, I don’t know. Thankfully, I’m not there. I sure see a lot of clowns dominating the news, some of them scary clowns. But whenever I see our state legislators up close I am reminded by what decent people we have (for the most part) in Richmond. That’s not to say I agree with everything they do (I don’t), but I have generally found them to be good-hearted people who have the ability to disagree without being disagreeable. A fewmonths ago, I wrote about the odd-couple friendship between Del. Sam Rasoul, D-Roanoke, and Del. Joe McNamara, R-Roanoke County—Rasoul had directed honor roll students from his district to McNamara’s ice cream shop. Theymight not agree onmuch policywise, but that did not stop them from working together in other ways. See The side of politics more people should see, continued on page 14 Sen. Scott Surovell, D-Fairfax County (left) and Sen. David Suetterlein, R-Roanoke County (right) take a walk at the Booker T. Washington National Monument in Franklin County. Photo by Dwayne Yancey.