What Went on at the VA Senate Debate

By Helen Shibut

There were no losers in this debate (sorry). But I think all of the candidates who showed up managed to showcase themselves pretty clearly. Kevin Chisholm was inexperienced but relatable.  He admitted to being confused by specific tax codes and policies of the federal government, and I’m sure everyone can identify with that struggle.  Tim Donner was positively pragmatic, and perfectly conservative.  He was the easiest to imagine actually making it to Washington.  David McCormick was confident because he had a jobs plan.  Fewer regulations and lower taxes—I can’t argue with that.  Unfortunately, his plan was full of economic protectionism, and I don’t think China will just sit there if we starting bumping up tariffs on everything they send here.  E.W. Jackson was certainly the most exciting person on stage, and in the beginning I was prepared to get excited with him.  Raise the debt ceiling? “Under no circumstances!” Department of Education? Waste of space. Ditto for the EPA.  I was loving it. But then he started talking about cutting off immigration for the rest of the recession (strike one), bringing back Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell (strike two), and how the PATRIOT Act is actually a good thing (strike three, and thrown out of the game for arguing the call).

Not surprisingly, all of the candidates were opposed to the way the federal government has twisted the Constitution’s eminent domain clause.  Everyone seemed to agree that private property is important, and the government shouldn’t be able to take it from any individual without a seriously good reason and actual just compensation.  Therefore, it surprised me that the candidates were split on the question of whether or not the PATRIOT Act should be renewed.  Though McCormick stated clearly that he opposed it because it is directly contrary to our Constitutional rights, Jackson, who talked about civil liberties and individual rights throughout the evening, said that it was necessary because our security is a bigger deal than our property, so our liberty has to be compromised—for our own good.  This threw me off, because in general, I don’t like the government taking away anything from anyone for his or her own good. 

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