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Del. Ken Plum: After the Elections

by Del. Ken Plum — November 10, 2016 at 1:30 pm 26 Comments

Del. Ken Plum/File photoThis is a commentary from Del. Ken Plum (D), who represents Reston in Virginia’s House of Delegates. It does not reflect the opinion of Reston Now.

As I write this column the final votes of this election year will not have been cast and hence not tallied. The winners and losers are not yet known. Whether voters in my district took the recommendations in my Voter Guide 2016 or made different judgments will only be known as the final votes are counted the day before this column appears in print.

Regardless of who the new president is and who controls the Congress there is much work to be done. Suddenly the realities of significant issues become clearer than the simplistic slogans of campaigns might suggest. There are no easy answers to ever-increasing tensions in many parts of the world, to the rising cost of health care and its lack of availability to too many people, to major inequities in wealth and opportunity among the people of our country and among the nations of the world, to crumbling infrastructure–to name just a few!

The greatest challenge of all may be the sharp division of opinion apparent during the election season on the role government should play in responding to these needs. Complicating any reasonable discussion of the differences of opinion is the lack of trust of governmental institutions and politicians felt even more strongly after the rough and tumble of this election season.

While the only state-level elections this year were special elections to fill vacancies, the tenor and outcomes of federal elections are likely to have an impact on how business is conducted in the 2017 session of the General Assembly beginning in January. If the extreme right is successful in this year’s elections, those that are in the General Assembly may feel emboldened to continue to oppose taking federal health care monies, to adopt additional restrictions on abortions, and to pass laws that discriminate against LGBTQ citizens. While Governor McAuliffe will still be around to wield his veto pen, there could be many protracted debates on social issues.

On the other hand, if Democrats are successful in capturing the presidency and one or both houses of Congress, moderate Republicans in Virginia may feel less need to insist on hard lines on many issues as we have seen in the past. After all, Virginia will elect a new governor and House of Delegates in 2017, and both parties will want to side with the prevailing political winds.

It is essential that all political leaders learn from this election cycle and do what we can to help mend divisions in our state and in the nation. One thing we can do is listen. Senator Janet Howell and I will have our annual pubic meeting to talk with voters on Monday, Dec. 19, 7:30 to 9 p.m. at the Reston Community Center at Lake Anne Plaza. Come and tell us what is on your mind and offer your suggestions as to what we should do in the upcoming General Assembly session.

Also, my constituent survey is on my website and I encourage you to complete it. After all, the elections are over – time to get back to work.

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  • One Really

    “The greatest challenge of all may be the sharp division of opinion
    apparent during the election season on the role government should play
    in responding to these needs. Complicating any reasonable discussion of
    the differences of opinion is the lack of trust of governmental
    institutions and politicians felt even more strongly after the rough and
    tumble of this election season.”

    He talks about a great divide. Then uses phrases like this to describe his political opponents.
    “extreme right”
    “moderate Republicans in Virginia may feel less need to insist on hard lines on many issues as we have seen in the past.”

    Ken, how about take your own advice.

    “do what we can to help mend divisions in our state and in the nation.”

    • BlahBlah

      Is it that you think that “extreme right” and “insist on hard lines” could be better worded? I’m not quite sure what point you’re trying to make.

      • One Really

        Point being stop with the political name calling. If you really want to mend any divisions.

        • Guest

          Those terms acknowledge the division. Do you suggest he pretend everyone has the same political orientation?

          What is your specific objection?

        • Guest

          Republican supporters are now starting to label expressions that even hint at the spectrum of political views (like “extreme right”) as “divisive” and “violent”.

          A troubling trend for anyone who values freedom of speech.

  • drb

    The results are in and still the ruling classes of both parties fail to get what has happened. I will not explain here the obvious but to say that, no, the results are not the answer to our problems but rather flipping off those that have bastardized our nation.

    First I notice that Mr. Plum says “If the extreme right is successful in this year’s elections…may feel emboldened” yet phrases it this way for the anti-American crowd thusly “if Democrats are successful…moderate Republicans in Virginia may feel less need to insist on hard lines”. I am guilt myself of giving the benefit of the doubt to the ruling class of being just ignorant and not knowing any better. I had assumed their hearts are in the right place. After all the evidence that has surfaced from their own hands I, nor the rest of us, can no longer afford to think this.

    All Democrats and even many Republican leaders are in fact Anti-American, Period. They do not hold positions for the our rule of law, our foundation principles, individual freedom and capitalist economics that has allowed us and by extension to most of the world to enjoy the most prosperous standards of living the world has ever seen in the shortest period of time imaginable.

    It would be nice to think that we can eventually return to the road that will offer us once again a great future and opportunity to all that wish it. No that ship has sailed and since we were the first and only place in all of human history to bring this world an opportunity for individual freedom and personal prosperity it does not seem likely that such a thing will again become available. So just for laughs and giggles here is the preverbial middle finger to you and your kind.

  • Greg

    Now we know who the real deplorables are, Ken. Disgusting.

    Yes, vandals and criminals, President-elect Trump is your law-and-order president for (at least) four years.

    https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/public-safety/virginia-republican-party-headquarters-vandalized-in-protests/2016/11/10/37663afa-a76b-11e6-ba59-a7d93165c6d4_story.html

  • RAmember2

    This article is living proof of Pogo’s profound insight, “We have met the enemy and he is us.”

    Get in touch or get out.

  • 30yearsinreston

    My suggestion is that Ken resign and allow some fresh thinking into the party

  • Guest

    Good point, everyone should be ultra-relaxed about whether a politician is a fiscal conservative or if they just plain hate people. Perhaps if it were said by someone who isn’t an opponent?

    John Weaver, an adviser to Republican Gov. John Kasich of Ohio, said Bannon’s appointment meant the “racist, fascist extreme right” was “footsteps from the Oval Office.”

    • Mike M

      You play dumb a lot. Or, maybe, . . .

      • Guest

        I not are agree with it, as do many not are.

    • Ming the Merciless

      I respect KP inasmuch as he is openly an enemy.

      Kasich and his minions are far worse and more despicable – supposed allies who side with the enemy. In short, traitors. I have nothing but contempt for such creatures and their words.

      • Guest

        Please stop with the political name calling. If you really want to mend any divisions.

        • Ming the Merciless

          The beginning of wisdom is to call things by their proper name.

          • Guest

            When you see good people, think on equaling their qualities. When you see someone not so good, reflect on your own weak points.

  • Guest

    After 150 years of competing for educators, funding, and sports victories, it’d be strange if there weren’t a rivalry!

    • One Really

      Maybe you can sneak out of your parent’s basement and visit the real world.

      How about join the military and see real a rivalry.

      When your life is on the line you won’t care how your buddy votes. You are all Americans.

      So please pretend the other football team is the enemy or the guy who doesn’t vote the same as you is too.

      • Guest

        Dropped short. Good advice for various people in this thread, who celebrate a victory with a two minutes hate. Who attack even their fellow party members who won’t snap to.

        Great advice that people need a real enemy to make it real. Or they’ll just keep slicing it thinner.

        • Mike M

          I don’t need any enemies. But I have them. So do you.

          • Guest

            Bless your heart. I know you’re chock full of xenophobia, but I was talking about an existential threat.

          • Mike M

            When will you leftists get past calling people who disagree with you xenophobes and racists? It’s just name calling.

          • Guest

            The beginning of wisdom is to call things by their proper name.

          • Mike M

            So, name calling is wisdom? Got it. Thanks.

  • Scott H

    Ken,
    Why do you regularly case the debate as “Extreme Right” vs “democrats?”
    Are there no ‘Extreme Left’ politicians?

    I wold challenge you to name ONE…Just ONE ‘Extreme Left’ politician in the VA or Federal governments. If you cannot, it says all we need to know about you.

    • drb

      One in Va is Ken himself. The Fed is easier, all Democrats and a lot of Republicans.

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