The Democratic Party of Virginia, obviously playing the odds that anyone living in an apartment building in the Rosslyn district of Arlington, Virginia is going to be a Dem, has kindly sent me a sample ballot. Here are the prospects, such as they are:
Friends have asked me whether there’s a libertarian in the Webb-Allen Senate race. Looks like there isn’t, just an Independent Green (I assume that’s what “IG” is), Glenda Gail Parker. None of my conservative friends are planning to vote for Allen, but most of them can’t vote for the pro-Roe Webb, either. For my part, I see several benefits to repudiating Allen and electing Webb. Allen’s not such hot stuff in domestic matters anyway, while in foreign policy Webb is clearly better. Moreoever, putting Democrats like Webb into the Senate (or the House, for that matter) may ever so slowly move the Democrats in the right direction not only on war but also on 2nd Amendment questions and other matters. So I’m for Webb.
For the House, I’m in Democrat Jim Moran’s district, but I won’t consider voting for him. He’s been reliably opposed to the Iraq War, but he’s also a leading advocate for a national ID card. I’m not going to vote for Moran’s nominal Republican rival, Tom O’Donoghue, either — this isn’t the year to shower charity on Republicans. That leaves an Independent candidate about whom I know absolutely nothing, one James T. “Jim” Hurysz. I’ll go with him: better the devil you don’t know, in this case.
Three constitutional amendments are on the ballot. In principle, I’m inclined to vote against all of them: what’s so wrong in the commonwealth of Virginia that it requires amending the constitution to deal with it? Nothing, so far as I can tell — or at least nothing that any of these amendments will address. The first is a Republican get-out-the-vote effort: an amendment to define marriage explicitly as a union of one man and one woman (so far so good) that also would prohibit the commonwealth or any of its subdivisions from creating or recognizing “another union, partnership, or other legal status to which is assigned the rights, benefits, obligations, qualities, or effects of marriage.” This is sleazy stuff, but I’ll vote for the amendment: by prohibiting Virginia and its muncipalities from redefining marriage or creating marriage-like institutions, the measure prevents state and local governments from compelling individuals to recognize or extend benefits to unions they don’t want to recognize. It doesn’t restrict the ability of homosexuals or others to get together and play house; it only means that nobody else is legally compelled to respect such arrangements. And if private institutions want to extend benefits anyway, they’ll still be able to do so.
The next amendment aims to delete a provision of the constitution that “prohibits the incorporation of churches.” The wording of the amendment suggests this is already a moot point, since this provision “was ruled to be unconstitutional and therefore now is obsolete.” Hmm. If it’s really obsolete and unenforceable, why go to the trouble of amending the constitution to be rid of it? Obsolete laws are the only kind I like. So I’ll vote against this one.
Finally, an amendment “to authorize legislation to permit localities to provide a partial exemption from real property taxes for real estate with new structures and improvements in connection in conservation, redevelopment, or rehabilitation areas.” I suppose empowering localities to lower taxes (albeit selectively) is something I can’t oppose, so I might have to support this one, too. It’s a sad day when I’m voting to amend a constitution — somewhere the ghost of Lord Falkland is rebuking me: “when it is not necessary to change, it is necessary not to change,” and none of these changes are necessary.
Then there are five bond issues, for “Local Parks and Recreation” ($35.5 million), “Metro and Transportation Projects” ($31.5 million), “Community Infrastructure” ($27.3 million), “Utilities” ($79 million), and “Arlington County Public Schools” ($33.7 million). Who said that local government is small government? I’ll be voting against all these boondoggles, just as I’ve voted against every bond issue and other state and municipal financing scheme that I can remember since I started voting a decade ago. Take a look at what “Parks and Recreation” means in Rosslyn. You want the taxpayers to foot $35.5 million worth of debt for that?