Don’t be Fooled By a Wolf in Sheep's Clothing

by Daniel McGraw*

Recently, I had the distinct privilege of being accepted, through a lottery, to attend a town hall forum with Ed Gillespie, the Republican candidate for governor.  I spent several hours formulating my question: revising and rewriting, even had a few edits.  I wanted to ask Gillespie for his plan to institute raises for teachers, so that their pay could meet the national average.  The Democratic governor worked with the Republican-led General Assembly to do this for the state police last year.  Since teachers have not seen a true raise in over a decade, it seemed like a fair question.

 
Alas, I was not called on to speak.  So, I can only describe the events that I witnessed. The room was intimate, holding only about 40 people. This included the camera/sound crews, social media technicians, and five armed police who served as security. Thus, when Gillespie spoke, everyone in the room was within breathing distance of the man.
 
As a Democrat, I would love to say that his town hall was a blundering failure. It would be great to report that he struggles with the English language and lacks a solid platform. However, that would be misleading. Ed Gillespie is a formidable opponent. He speaks with such grace that it is difficult not to like him. I noticed how he could turn the heads of moderates, and possibly the minds of socialists.

It is my sincere fear that many good people may easily be fooled by his meek, demeaning and matter-of-fact attitude.  But, his “many great policies” rank among the worst mistakes of the present and the past.  
 
For instance, he wants to follow the path of Kentucky and offer a flat 10% tax break for all citizens. Virginia, please understand that Kentucky is now faced with many lawsuits and funding challenges because that flat tax shattered the state’s bottom line  For Virginia, this would mean losing 1.4 billion dollars’ worth of revenue.  Please understand that Virginia is the 5th least taxed state in the U.S.A. and its residents earned the 9th highest average income last year.  We are a wealthy state with a low tax bracket.  He is preying on the fears of small business owners. Make no mistake, if we have a flat tax break, then we will not be able to support small businesses the way we do now.
 
Nor will we be able to feed the many young school-aged children that so desperately depend on SNAP and other government services. Gillespie acknowledged that the initiatives of the Virginia’s current first lady are noble. “We need to close the gap,” he said. Now, government dollars are being used to make sure that children are not coming to school hungry. In fact, we need to do more, not less.  To further exacerbate the problem, Mr. Gillespie wants to open Virginia to more charter schools.   He claimed that “more competition is good.” (Ironic that he does not use the same logic on health care and medicine.)  
 
But, the worst part is that he used North Carolina as an example  That school system is far behind the Virginia public school system in many ways. It does not take much research to learn that all the charter schools in North Carolina have exponentially increased (not decreased) the problems in education there. Diverse, inclusive schools are what unite us, not exclusive districts that burn tax dollars without the burden of government oversight. Many people asked Gillespie about education, but his only response was “to close the gap.” That is not a plan, it is a vision.
 
The most disturbing part of the night was when a young lady, with her daughter, brought up Ed Gillespie’s NRA rating. His rating is a perfect score for the group (AAA). He answered every question exactly how the NRA wanted him to. That means that he supports having loaded weapons in K-12 schools. He also objects to background checks for gun owners. Mr. Gillespie did not respond to the woman about that announcement, which means he does not deny it. How can unregulated guns belong in a public-school system?
 
As I said, I was lucky to go. I enjoyed the experience even if I did not get to ask the question which I had prepared. Gillespie's words sounded genuine. But, his actions and decisions do not follow sound logic  The “No Car Tax” issue nearly bankrupted many localities. But, Gillespie said that he plans to leave that as it is. Even worse, he plans to remove even more tax revenue from localities.

Every citizen needs to show up at the polls and vote in November. This man is moving around spreading half-lies. We must expose the truth and ensure that Ralph Northam gets our vote.