“Remember, Remember the fifth of November, the Gunpowder Treason plot. I know of no reason why the Gunpowder Treason should ever be forgot.”
The quote delivered by the title character in Alan Moore’s “V For Vendetta” referencing the failed assassination attempt on King James I. It was quite a different fifth of November last night in Virginia. The Democrats held 48 seats in the House of Delegates and 20 seats in the State Senate. By the end of the night Virginia Democrats had won 55 seats in the House of Delegates and 21 seats in the State Senate. With both houses of the General Assembly, both Junior and Senior Senators, the Governor, Lieutenant Governor, Attorney General and six of the 11 members of Virginia’s Congressional delegation, the Democrats have gained control of all sectors of government in the Commonwealth of Virginia. And along the way, while Democrats have won across the state on all levels, they might have lost the perspective on what was actually won.
“Remember, Remember the third of November…”
In 2009, the night Democrats across Virginia lost races for Governor, Lieutenant Governor, Attorney General and a net of six seats in the General Assembly. With majorities in the House and the Senate and with a seated governor, the Republicans were able to control the Redistricting of electoral district maps. And as a result, Democrats that held seats in the 2nd, 5th and the 9th Congressional Districts all lost the following year. House and Senate districts across the state were changed to secure the majority Republicans had won, making electoral challenges so unlikely that in just a few years Incumbents in both parties were for all intent and purposes politically invulnerable. But the stacking of the deck and packing of black voters that the Republicans did caused cracks, first in the 4th Congressional Districts and then others districts across the state. The checks we put on the Legislative Branch was balanced by the Judicial Branch. And now, in an inherently political process, the Democrats can now control Redistricting, which could only cause the Democratic majority won on the fifth of November to strengthen for years to come…
“Remember, Remember the the 25th of September…”
In 1921. The year after the the passage of the 19th Amendment, that gave women the right to vote, it was believed that that Amendment, was simply not enough to guarantee the equal rights of women. Just as the 14th Amendment was not believed to be enough to guarantee African Americans the right to vote, another Amendment was needed. Plans were announced to amend the U.S. Constitution to guarantee women the same right as men. However support for this amendment was fractured almost from the beginning. But by the 1960s, when Americans began to exercise their freedoms more, it was realized the growing support for the Equal Rights Amendment was now on the table. And nearly 50 years after it was initially proposed, the ERA was passed by an overwhelming majority in Congress. And as dictated by the Constitution, it was now left to three-fourths of the states to individually approve it for it to be ratified. Almost immediately, nearly half of the states in the union voted to ratify. By the deadline given by congress, the total was up to 35, still three states short to ratify. And where the National Organization of Women backed an initial resurgence, the #MeToo movemnt has undo given way to tacit approval to additional legislatures bringing the total number of that’s to have ratified the ERA to 37, one short of the three-fourths needed for it’s ratification. The Equal Rights Amendment can now be Ratified.
“Remember, Remember the 31st of May…”
This year. A disturbed city worker came to work at the Virginia Beach Municipal Center armed and with the intent to murder. Before the end of the day, before the beginning of a Memorial Day weekend, he shot 16 people in a shootout with the police that lasted over 30 minutes before being shot himself, representing the deadliest instance of gun violence in the state since 33 were killed on the campus of Virginia Tech in 2007. Horrified by the continuation of these tragedies, the Governor called for a Special Session to address the epidemic of all gun violence that is responsible for the death of hundreds of Virginians. The shooting at the Virginia Beach Municipal center, being the precipice for action, the Virginia General Assembly was to convene to consider several actions to universalizing background checks, penalizing straw purchases and notably reviving Virginia’s One Gun A Month law, which was initially passed in 1993 to address the “Iron Pipeline” of guns being trafficked up Interstate 95 to New York that allowed for Virginia to be they city’s number one provider for crime guns. In the years after it was passed, Virginia dropped to eighth, but the law was repealed in 2012 and to no surprise, Virginia went back to being New York’s main supplier. These are challenges the Governor sought to address when the General Assembly convened at noon on July 9th. A hour and a half later, the Republican controlled House and Senate voted to adjourn until November without considering a single piece of legislation at all, despite promises to do so.
Well here we are. November. And Virginia voters have voted to permanently adjourn those legislators. And in their place, Virginia now has the opportunity to pass meaningful legislation to address gun violence that as killed kids, women and everyday Virginians on a daily basis. Gun violence. Equal Rights for Women. Redistricting of our legislative districts to end partisan gerrymandering. It is now all well within our grasp.
Moore’s V challenged his readers to remember the 5th of November and to make it a day that shall never be forgotten. However in 2019, Virginia, we have given ourselves a new remembrance. Not for a plot to assassinate a monarch. But a tide to right wrongs, save lives and secure the rights of all Virginians. So, for this year alone, in this state, I propose a change to that quote and make it more fitting…
“Remember, Remember the fifth of November, the night the Democrats won all the top spots. I know of no reason why the 2019 Democratic Wave should ever be forgot.”