Virginia's Senate Dems take a dive


Although you’d be hard-pressed to prove it, the Old Dominion’s Democrats still maintain control over one branch of Virginia’s three-headed bureaucratic Hydra. In fact, with the recent capture of Ken Cuccinelli’s old Senate seat by Dave Marsden, the donkeys actually increased their numbers by one, securing a 22-18 advantage over the Republican caucus.

To be sure, a slim majority in one-half of a bicameral Assembly that comprises two-thirds of a governing body is not exactly a position of power, and it would be foolhardy to expect any substantive Democratic legislation to make it very far in the current environment. To its credit, the Senate has managed to pass some unexpectedly left-leaning legislation in recent days—most notably, a bill that would prohibit discrimination in the state workforce for any reason, including sexual orientation.
But that bill will no doubt be unceremoniously crushed by the Republican-led House of Delegates—as will, in all likelihood, a common-sense proposal sponsored by Creigh Deeds that would put a bipartisan committee in charge of redrawing legislative districts.
And this is where we get to the heart of the Democrats’ current dilemma. It’s as if they’ve already given up the fight, even though many rounds still lie ahead. Now don’t get us wrong: We’re huge supporters of bipartisan redistricting, and think the present system —where whoever happens to be in power gets to carve up the districts once per decade to maximize their electoral advantage—is borderline criminal. 
But the Republicans now hold two out of the three levers of redistricting power, and won’t give them up easily. They controlled the redistricting process in 2001, and largely owe their current House majority to that effort. If the Dems think the GOP is going to jump on board the peace train now, they’re crazy.
Oh wait, that’s right—judging from recent actions, they are crazy! Barely a year after Barack Obama proved conclusively that an inclusive, smart, center-left candidate could win decisively in Virginia, a sizeable chunk of the Commonwealth’s Democratic senators have apparently decided that appeasing the most rabid right-wing elements of the electorate is a brilliant winning strategy.
Don’t even get us started on Creigh Deeds’ recent bill to allow the purchase of lifetime hunting licenses for infants (a proposal so laughable that it earned the dubious distinction of being mocked at length by Stephen Colbert). But even that piece of pandering pales in comparison to the recent passage of Senate bills that would make it illegal to require individuals to purchase health insurance. This, of course, directly challenges efforts by the Obama administration to achieve near-universal coverage by—you guessed it!—requiring individuals to purchase health insurance.
And the reasoning for this idiotic sop to the Tea Party fringe? Well, as brainiac Senator Phil Puckett commented to reporters: “I don’t believe someone should be forced to buy something they don’t want to… It’s un-American.”
We’re sure that Senator Puckett’s bill abolishing the dastardly, un-American insurance requirements imposed by Virginia’s DMV has already been drafted.
Seriously, what’s next? Can we expect Senate Dems to help lead Delegate Mark Cole’s lunatic crusade to outlaw the forced implantation of microchips into Virginia’s citizenry?
Wait, ignore that! We certainly don’t want to give the enervated invertebrate wing of the Democratic Party any ideas.