This week we had our first glimpse at the Virginia Republican Party’s nominees in the state’s general election in November. After 10 hours and four ballots, delegates to Virginia’s Republican convention enthusiastically nominated their choice for lieutenant governor: a right-wing reverend who you’ve probably never heard of before now.
This candidate’s only political claim to fame was winning a paltry 5% of the vote when he ran for U.S Senate last year.
He is now poised to hold the second-highest public office in the state of Virginia.
Since he’s a relative novice in this game, I thought I’d better write him a letter with a bit of advice.
Dear Bishop E.W. Jackson:
It’s me, Melissa.
May I call you “Ewww…”?
Because I’ve heard what you’ve had to say about your politics. And quite frankly, it’s pretty disgusting. I wanted to begin my advice to you with the reminder that–as a candidate for public office – you must choose your words carefully.
The Internet has already caught wind of some of your greatest hits. You know, like the time you called the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell “a disaster of historic proportions,” and said that “it must be reinstated.” Or when you said that gays and lesbians are “perverted…very sick people.”
Can’t forget your conspiracy theory classic about President Obama having “Muslim sensibilities” and seeing the world from a “Muslim perspective”! Oh yes, and then there was that time you claimed that “liberalism and their ideas have done more to kill black folks…than the Ku Klux Klan, lynching, slavery, and Jim Crow ever did.”
Your creative interpretation of the Constitution’s clause counting black people as three-fifths of a person as an “anti-slavery amendment”–oh, and my personal favorite, your complaint about African-Americans’ (what did you call it?) “slavish devotion” to the Democratic party.
Look. I know you proudly proclaimed last weekend that you are, “not an African-American, just an American.” But even if you want to deny your connection to black people in this country, you do not have the right to insult us by using “slave” as though it is some kind of slur. Slavish? If by slavish you mean “hardworking, striving for freedom, and laying the economic foundation of our country?”
I’ll be that.
You see, you’ve got it all wrong. Your choice to join the Republican Party doesn’t make you more free or independent than black people who choose to be Democrats. It just makes you really good at figuring out how to stand out in a radical right base that’s devoid of diversity.
And it’s not even particularly original–just ask Herman Cain and Allen West. As for your campaign strategy, you might want to keep one thing in mind. The very people you’ve targeted with your hateful words are the same people who comprise the voter base that pushed Virginia from red to solidly purple and elected President Obama not once, but twice.
So good luck with that.
But as much as I’d like to file you away with the colorful cast of Tea Party characters we’ve seen come and go, I can’t. Because although the lieutenant governor position is largely ceremonial in Virginia, when it’s time to break a tie in the evenly split state Senate, it matters. We saw that earlier this year when Virginia’s current L.G., Bill Bolling, broke a tied vote– effectively delaying tougher restrictions in the state’s voter I.D. law.
But more than that–the gig you’re going for is but a step away from the most powerful position in a crucial swing state that can turn the tide of national elections. Which is why my feelings about you emerging victorious in November’s election are best summed up by your 2009 tweet in response to LGBT Pride Month: “Well that just makes me feel ikky all over. Yuk!”