Commentary: The November election: So is this 2013 or 1950?

By Bob Lowerre

I’m a Democrat. I believe that the fundamental difference between the parties is the size and role of the Federal Government. It’s a legitimate difference. I come down on the side of a government that has crucial responsibilities to the people. So, as readers of these pages may have observed, I’ve supported Democratic candidates.

In more recent times the Republican Party, particularly in Virginia, has taken on a partisan approach to social issues, which I think are best left to the conscience of each individual. We have a GOP candidate for governor who has devoted his career to making sure that the government has the last say in decisions that rightfully are personal, intimate and private. I, therefore, oppose him with the same vigor that I support Terry McAuliffe.

When Bob McDonnell became a candidate for governor, Bill Bolling stepped aside. He became lieutenant governor with the understanding that he would be the next Republican candidate for governor. This was not good enough for the extreme elements (including the tea party) that have gained prominence in the party. They overturned plans for a primary and opted instead for a convention. As political junkies know, the hardcore true believers in either party have a far better chance of controlling a convention, as opposed to a primary. They surely did this time.

While a state senator, Ken Cuccinelli showed his tendencies as a social activist. For example, he introduced a bill that would have turned back the clock by sharply reducing the grounds for obtaining a divorce.

Once he became attorney general, he and his wing of the House of Delegates began a reign of reaction. They passed a bill that required a woman, in order to obtain an abortion, to undergo a transvaginal ultrasound. This was too much even for the governor, who modified the measure. The next step was to impose new requirements on women’s health clinics that now have caused some to close (although there was no evidence they endangered patients’ health). In achieving his goal, Cuccinelli overruled the reasonable stand of the state board of health. This clique has now cooked up other winners they would like to impose on us, such as restricting the availability of contraceptives (an issue settled at least 50 years ago) and holding that a fetus, upon conception, is a person (an extreme proposal that was recently rejected by Mississippi voters). Keep in mind, too, that his running mates have similar, if not even more outlandish, views.

Cuccinelli has not limited his efforts to undermining personal privacy. He was one of the first state officials in the country to challenge the Affordable Care Act. He lost. While almost all the world’s scientists have found there’s climate change caused by human activity, Cuccinelli thinks otherwise. He tried to prosecute a former UVA professor who advocated the “global warming” approach. Into the bargain, Cuccinelli demanded the university turn over vast information. It cost the university $600,000 to resist his demands. He lost.

Cuccinelli’s gone even further. After decades of highway gridlock, the Democrats and the governor compromised on a bill that will provide financing for Virginia roads. Cuccinelli fought it tooth and toenail. He lost. Terry McAuliffe supported it.

And that’s not all. We now know that Cuccinelli took valuable gifts from an individual who had business with the commonwealth. So we have a public official who took tainted gifts and then has the temerity to attack his opponent, Terry McAuliffe, for having some success in business.

Further, for years attorneys general have resigned when they became candidates for another office. Among other things, their remaining in office raises concerns about conflicts of interest. Obviously, that doesn’t bother Cuccinelli.

The possibility of Cuccinelli becoming governor has inspired support for McAuliffe by prominent Republicans, such as former long-time members of the General Assembly Sen. Russ Potts and Del. Clint Miller, and Boyd Marcus, for decades a top adviser to governors.

Commonwealth voters have a stark choice. They should keep in mind that this year’s mid-term election provides an opening for committed minorities to work their will on complacent majorities. Recall these astonishing numbers — in 2012, 46 million more people voted than did in the 2010 mid-term election. So a large turnout is essential to ensure that the reactionaries – Cuccinelli and his running mates – cannot turn Virginia back to the 1950s.

Bob Lowerre is a retired attorney who lives in Woodstock.