They’re Called Hot Button For a Reason

Before I get into it, I’d like to apologize to yall for the last couple of days of non posting. Things got way more hectic than I ever intended them to. Luckily, Zen has really been a great help by keeping things fresh with his awesome cartoons. Thanks Zen.

I should also probably apologize because, this being at least partly a philly politics blog, talk of Virginia politics may seem a little out of place. But let me set the stage for you as to why Va politics is, to me, pretty damn important. And, no, it’s not because I live here; I’m still technically a resident of California.

Big picture wise, Virginia is a southern state. Not deep deep South, but deep south, or at least medium deep. It’s down there. The culture is ripe for conservative Republican manipulation made only more pronounced due to the unusually large military presence particularly in the Hampton Roads metropolitan area. In the last presidential election Virginia went red at about 55 points on the polls.

And it currently has a Democratic governor. And he’s not a Dixiecrat. And he has put up some incredibly impressive numbers during his tenure.

All things being considered, Virginia would seem like a great foothold for the Democratic Party to make use of in its attempts to break into the South and Heartland America. But there is a single little hiccup. Virginia has this weird rule that governors can only serve one term here. If this weren’t the case, Mark Warner could run again, most assuredly win, and hopefully make the land more fertile for left of center voting. But he can’t, which makes the election of the new governor extremely vital not only on a local scale, but on a national scale as well as another democratic success could propogate a crack in the GOP’s electorate armor.

The contenders for the governorship are now Jerry Kilgore (R), and Tim Kaine (D).

Last time I checked in some time ago, Kaine was doing pretty well, and, from what I’ve heard, absolutely mopped the floor with Kilgore during the debates.

So what’s a flailing Republican to do? Get nasty of course.

The first TV spot, entitled Stanley, attacked Kaine because he voluntarily defended the murderer of Stanley’s son in court. This one I didn’t catch on television, and have only read the transcript, but I can tell you right now, this is a horribly gut wrenching story, and not a little misleading for a few reasons.

The biggest reason, though, is a pretty common phenomenon in this country, and one that I cannot ever seem to get over. It’s much like what happened not long after the September 11th attacks. Famed attorney Alan Derschowitz (if you don’t know who that is, go rent Reversal of Fortune. He is, by most accounts, a brilliant attorney) had went public saying that the perpetrator of the attacks had the right to legal council, and if no one else would provide, Alan would be more than willing.

This didn’t go over well for Alan for much the same reason that Kaine defending Stanley’s son’s murderer didn’t go over well with Stanley. Too often in this country, in our flag waving, and such, we say we believe in our court system and such, until it stops being convenient to us. This is not to undercut the pain that Stanley must have felt, but part of our system, part of our country, is ensuring that all persons here are treated fairly. It’s what a working society does, and to defend the freedoms of decent law abiding types, you have to protect the rights of those who don’t abide by the law. Let me be clear, defending the lowest in court to the best of our ability is a necessity to ensuring that EVERYONE is protected in this country’s legal system. Letting just one slip by makes room for letting another slip by, and then another, and eventually, you will get the wrong guy.

Osama Bin Laden deserves a trial because this is America, and you deserve a trial, and I deserve a trial. Period.

Now, the second piece follows along a similar vein. Kelly sits and tells the story of her husband’s murder with tears in her eyes(even tossing in a little of that “brown people who aren’t like us fear” by not failing to mention that her husband’s murderer was a druggie illegal alien). Then she goes on to say that Kaine being against the death penalty is offensive to her. I did see this one, and I gotta tell ya, I felt a little dirty watching it.

Kilgore can’t match Kaine on the issues, so what’s he do? Parade a very attractive white lady out there and put forth as much scripted raw emotion as possible to do what the Republicans have made an art out of doing; evoking an emotional response in order to override logical decisions.

And in a neck and neck race like this one, this kind of gambit just may work.

Now Kaine has come back with another ad answering the claims from Camp Kilgore, and he does it just about right. By saying he is against the death penalty but will enforce it, he brings to light something that is woefully missing from American politics, populism.

This extends beyond the death penalty. Of course I’m against the death penalty. I was once posed the question from a pro death penalty guy, “if someone brutally murdered your daughter, wouldn’t you want that person executed?” Yes, of course I would. Initially. But I thought about it long and hard, and in asking myself what kind of person I am, I had to say that to seek the murderer of my daughter’s execution would still be wrong. It’d be wrong and selfish.

The only good that could come from the death of my daughter’s killer would be, truthfully, my own peace of mind, and I don’t know if I would even have that, considering that it would come at such a high cost. I don’t know that I could willfully want the murderer tortured. To me, the idea of pain from pain, death from death, seems a woefully barbaric equation, one from which no one benefits. So I pondered harder on the problem.

In the end, I decided that what was lost was a life. A life full of possibility and change in the world, and someone took it. The price, the debt owed from a death cannot be repaid by another death, in the cosmic scale of things that just increases the debt. To truly do my daughter justice, more life must be made, more possibility, more change for the better, and so to me, the greatest justice that could come of things is if the hands that went to killing my daughter were redirected to do good. If the murderer of my child could, from the incident of my child’s death, be turned around to become a great driving positive influence of the world, I would feel the debt has been repaid. At least, it would be repaid to the best ability of we lowly humans.

So it’s not about the death penalty. It all goes back to what has always been the most important thing for me when it comes to governance, and that is accountability. It’s about those who govern doing the will of the people, not merely seeking their support to the point where they can do what they want. That’s why I loathe our president so. His philosophy on governing is that you stick to your guns no matter what, but that’s not how the system is supposed to work. That’s not how democracy is supposed to work.

What Kaine’s rebuttal ad portrays is that being the leader of a free people means that your own agenda must always take the back seat to the will of the people.

But then, that’s just me.

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