Making unequal radio waves

By the

September 6, 2001

Until recently, the Virginia Governor’s race was quiet, which is to say that nothing demanded serious news attention. Democrat Mark Warner, a wealthy Alexandria businessman, was and still is regarded as the front-runner over Republican nominee Mark Earley. But then Earley started making news.

Republican-funded radio ads and statewide mailings have attacked Warner and his running mate, Richmond Mayor Timothy Kaine, for being too liberal for everyday Virginians. The GOP decided the best approach would be to play up the Democratic ticket’s general support for the rights of homosexuals. Kaine noted in May that he does support a certain degree of protection for same-sex unions but stops short of endorsing marriage. For the Virginia GOP, these are “Vermont values,” inappropriate for Virginia. In fact, other Republicans seem to see themselves doing the public a favor by exposing Warner and Kaine for the raving liberals they really are.

But of course that clearly means Earley and his running mate, Jay Katzen, are veritable bastions of civic-mindedness and rationality. In July, Richmond’s magazine Style Weekly reported Katzen as claiming “AIDS is the product, sadly, in most cases of a choice people have made.” He also referred to homosexuality as “a lifestyle with public health consequences.”

The Republican Party is no doubt happy to imagine that places with real “values” still exist. Virginia, however, may not prove to be one of them. Earley’s platform consists mostly of the old “life-is-good-and-I’ll-keep-it-that-way” tactic. But the state’s recent economic downturn and general dissatisfaction with current policies don’t bode well for this approach. It’s probably quite unlikely that Virginians will elect Earley solely on the basis of his claim to understand Virginian values, when basically everything else he has discussed has negative associations for most voters.

Virginia political campaigns may not necessarily interest Georgetown students, but students who happen to hear these radio advertisements should turn off the radio or, better yet, write directly to the Republican Party. Virginia might not be our home but the University should make itself a home for those who support equal rights.

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