As the presidential primaries progressed, there were some interesting developments to be proud of as Americans. In our melting pot of a country, candidates who came from a variety of religious backgrounds were stepping forward and talking about new ideas for our country. At least two different genders were represented and people were listening to their messages. Americans with all sorts of cultural and national backgrounds spoke as presidential candidates and we listened as they shared new ideas. We were even listening to a man whose father was black and mother was white. In a country that probably has been governed for way too many years by way too many old rich blue-blood lawyers, something was different now. If you listened closely, you could hear and actually feel that things were changing.
As the field narrowed, we started to slip from talking about ideas that could change our country and reverted back to old time politics as usual. Pandering was raised to a new level. Cheap shot, below the belt tactics once again became the weapon of choice. We talked about the snipers, the minister, the missing files, the business associates, the votes from 15 years ago, and that darn lapel pin. The issues at hand had once again disappeared. A primary that started with a vision of hope and change, rapidly deteriorated into personal attacks and pandering. It seemed as if the proverbial light of hope would be once again be extinguished before given a chance to help light the way.
I wanted to smack the remaining candidates "up side the head" as a wake up call. I wanted to scream at them that they were screwing up a chance to change the world. Like many Americans, I was worn out. Just as I was reaching my breaking point, I witnessed a look into a bright future.
I attended a kickoff rally for Mark Warner's campaign to be a U.S. Senator that was held in Lynchburg, Virginia. Warner was our governor from 2002-2006. His administration inherited a six billion dollar budget deficit that was turned into a surplus by the time he left office. He must just like crazy challenges because unless my math is wrong (years ago I was taught the "new math") as a U. S. Senator he will be inheriting another fairly large deficit.
There was a great deal of what he said that inspired me. However, there were two items that jumped out at me and gave me new hope. First and foremost was his introduction. After the local politicians had their moments, Mark Warner was introduced by Preston Bryant, who is the State Secretary of Natural Resources in Virginia. He started and finished by saying, 'I am Preston Bryant, a republican and I am supporting Mark Warner.' Yes, the kickoff introduction of a democrat was by a republican?!?!?!?! Why, that Is pure heresy! And maybe it is just what this country needs.
The second powerful moment of hope was when Mark talked about what we had done as a state because republicans, democrats and independents had worked together. He said that he didn't like the extreme politics from either side. He went on to say that the solutions were to be found where about 80% of us are found and that is somewhere in the middle. He said that he wanted to gather a group of legislators and start a group called the Radical Centrists. What a concept!
So I saw the unspeakable and the unthinkable. A republican backing a democrat and solutions that are neither republican or democrat. It is a concept that is ripe for our state and our country. So from this day forward I ask you to no longer refer to me as an independent. Today I sign off as a Radical Centrist.