Must-Read OpEd on McDonnell and Southside

Thursday, March 4, 2010

I strongly recommend this oped by Tom McLaughlin in the South Boston (VA) News & Record. Here's an excerpt, but definitely read the entire thing:
McDonnell and his minions in the General Assembly are well on their way to refashioning Virginia, one of the wealthiest states in the nation, after the image of Southside, one of the poorest areas of the Commonwealth. Virginia’s $4 billion budget debacle is the wedge that McDonnell and crew are using to separate Virginians from their senses; the birthplace of Washington, Jefferson and Madison is now Tea Party nirvana, a place where ignorance, short-sightedness and plain meanness have found a home.


...McDonnell is applying age-old concepts of Southside Virginia misgovernance — low taxes, dismal public services — to the rest of the state, he is doing more to undermine the region’s prospects than any governor in memory. McDonnell’s strategy for economic development is to mimic the policies of the Virginia Tobacco Commission, that politician-led flop. (Superimpose the Tobacco Commission’s service area over a map of the state’s highest unemployment regions and you’ll see what I mean). Long-term, there is only one solution for what ails Southside: a laser-like focus on developing a well-educated society, by pushing the ranks from within and recruiting talent from without. It’ll never happen as long as our system of public education is treated as an afterthought and government services are gutted with sneering disdain by Tea Party-style ignoramuses.

I wrote during the campaign that McDonnell’s priorities would be a disaster for Southside Virginia. The prediction was off the mark. The McDonnell administration is shaping up as a disaster for the entire state of Virginia, although by virtue of being on the bottom already, Southside will catch the worst of it. McDonnell’s apparent fondness for the failed Southside Virginia way suggests that we’ll soon yearn for the days when Jim Gilmore was governor. And being among the regions that lent McDonnell such fervent support mere months ago, we have only ourselves to blame.