To locals, Ashland, Virginia is known as, “The Center of the Universe.” It’s beginning to seem like that to the rest of the country after this past Tuesday’s primary. Prior to this, the last time Ashland made national news may have been when Mitt Romney passed through on his campaign tour. Before that, it could have been when the D.C. sniper traveled this far south on I-95 to continue his spree of terror to the parking lot of a Ponderosa restaurant just off the highway in Ashland. Now, some people may be wondering, “who is Dave Brat? and, “where is Randolph-Macon College?”
Once upon a time, I used to live in a state where my vote didn’t make much of a difference. Living in a Blue State was not always fun and exciting for someone with more conservative tendencies like me. We mostly avoided political phone calls and campaigns because our state was a deadlock win and there didn’t seem to be any point in spending money to convince the already convinced (hmmmm, now there’s a lesson that churches need to learn, but I digress).
When I moved to Virginia, I discovered that I was living in a “swing state.” People’s votes actually mattered. Some elections could go either way, so there was always a reason for a phone call, a personal visit, or a mailer to get your vote. It was kind of a new experience for me and I can’t say that I have always enjoyed it. The barrage of phone calls was a little overwhelming during the last major election for governor.
This past Tuesday, an incumbent Republican congressional candidate was unseated by a little known liberal arts professor supported by the Tea Party. While there are ramifications to this that extend to both sides of the political spectrum, to me, there was a renewed faith instilled in me that there is still hope for the underdog. When you take away the voice of people who want to be heard, they will still find a way to be heard, whenever and however they can.
I’ve never been a big fan of politics but I’ve followed them enough to know that we have issues within our country. Some think that the unseating of Eric Cantor will lead to a stronger line being drawn between the parties making it even more difficult for bi-partisan relations. While this may be the case, compromise is something that requires give on both sides, when one side continues to give, it becomes less about compromise and more about manipulation. Relationships are give and take and that has to be the case even in relationships between political parties.
I have no idea what will happen come November, but for now, I’m smiling at the fact that there was shock and dismay because someone who thought that they had an election, “in the bag” has been found to be overconfident. I’m smiling because it proved to me that people can still let their voice be heard, as uncomfortable and unpopular as that voice may be. All this might not amount to nothing in the future, but for now, I think there’s a whole lot that we can learn when we see history made right before our eyes. I, personally, am looking forward to seeing how it all plays out.