I was pleased to see the nearly uniform praise from progressive bloggers for George Allen’s gracious concession speech yesterday. I’m sorry to say that others are less humble in victory.
Greg over at Black Velvet Bruce Li has posted his winners and losers list. Given his predilections it’s not surprising he focuses on the passage of the Marshall/Newman Amendment. His comments are curious, though, and seem to flow more from selective memory than from facts.
Greg notes first that Bob Marshall is a winner, and I’ll grant him that. His eponymous amendment passed, and a victory is a victory, after all.
Nonetheless, it seems to me that Delegate Marshall should look over the Occoquan. Fairfax County decisively defeated the amendment. Prince William is growing, and all those godless liberals are moving south – and north for that matter – say from Fredericksburg, which reversed the statewide percentage on the amendment.
Senator Newman should look to Lynchburg, where the margin of victory for his amendment was less than half the statewide margin.
Greg places “secular progressives” into the losers’ column. I dispute his nomenclature. The voters who opposed this amendment were “secular” in the sense that many, including prominent Republicans, believed that government should not intrude into family life. The implied opposite of Greg’s position is that “sectarian” voters supported the amendment. Notwithstanding the fact that 51% of Catholic voters opposed the amendment, I find it quite ironic that Greg champions increased government intrusion into the religious life and faith structures of Virginia families. I doubt I’ll forget when other issues arise.
Worse, though, Greg goes on to say “the overwhelming margin for the Marriage Amendment should rock the secular progressive movement back on it’s heels for a while… .” I am amazed at the breadth of Greg’s lack of insight.
In 2004, our best performance on a “marriage amendment” was in Oregon, where the amendment passed 57-43. The supporters of the Marshall/Newman Amendment, including Marshall, Newman, Victoria Cobb, and I think Greg, all predicted a 70% victory. Instead, this amendment passed 57-43, exactly the same result as in liberal Oregon. One million Virginia voters said no – dramatically more than voted no last year in Texas, a state with nearly three times our population. Finally, it’s also plain that the amendment actively hurt the re-election effort of George Allen. Some might say that one should be careful what one wishes for.
Looked at another way, the 329,000 vote margin for the Marshall/Newman Amendment is 7.2% of Virginia registered voters. I have no doubt – no doubt whatsoever – that this margin is ephemeral. Greg, Victoria, Bob and Steve should take no comfort in their victory, and Greg should certainly not believe that progressive voters will be rocked back on our heels.
Instead they all should realize that we’ve taken to heart the comments made by Senator Allen this week. A storm may trim the branches, but the trunk remains strong. We who voted against the amendment have many things to discuss with our representatives. The conversation begins today.