A crowd from the very newly christened 50 Ways – Rockbridge attended Ben Cline’s town hall meeting last night. Ben is our Delegate in the Virginia House of Delegates, and he has a very polished personality. When faced with a tough question or a roar of voices and clapping in opposition to one of his positions, he knows how to nod politely and move quickly to one of the scattered Republicans in the room.
He does seem like a nice, reasonable guy, which is why we were so startled by some of the remarkably unreasonable things he had to say. After explaining how vital it is for job growth to make Rockbridge a community that welcomes all points of view, he immediately defended his support of a pro-life resolution that would accomplish exactly the opposite of what he had just said.
He also talked about how unfair it is that in some industries—he used plumbers and barbers as his examples—the people who currently have the jobs have found a way to suppress competition by raising the bar for others to get licensed. Those in charge protect their self-interest and hurt the industry overall, and so he wants to change regulations to make them more fair. Makes sense to me. But when asked him how his job was any different he flipped his principles.
The Republicans in the House of Delegates outnumber Democrats two to one, and yet over half of Virginia voters vote Democratic. Ben and his fellow incumbents have found a way to suppress election competition by gerrymandering our districts. They’re in charge and they’re protecting their self-interest and hurting representational democracy overall.
We want Ben and his fellow incumbent Delegates to change the districts back to make them more fair. According to his own stated principles, that would be the right thing to do. But apparently that only applies to people like plumbers and barbers. Politicians play by their own rules—which include changing the rule book so a minority party holds a supermajority. It’s wrong. He knows it’s wrong. But he just nodded and smiled and moved on to the next question.