That’s the very best case scenario, which will only occur with active Democratic assistance and a heaping dose of Republican introspection and reflection.
The very early signs indicate the GOP isn’t interested in reflection and introspection, let alone answers about why suburban, educated voters have abandoned them.
Consider the post-election news release from outgoing Majority Leader Todd Gilbert, in which the would-be minority leader predicts a bleak future:
Virginians should expect public policies that look a lot more like the train-wreck that is California than the Virginia of good fiscal management and common-sense conservative governance. Republican policies have kept Virginians safe, prosperous, and free for more than two decades. In the months ahead, Democrats will seek to make good on their extreme agenda.
Setting aside the numerous and hilarious conceits about our resident political class, Gilbert laid the groundwork for what will pass for a Republican Resistance.
If a fundraising appeal from Del. Dave LaRock is any indication of the new resistance messaging, it’s going to be a long, weird couple of years.
Warning that Democrats “would take away what God has given to us,” LaRock tells his supporters to remain hopeful, because Republicans “are on the right side of this war between good and evil, and with His help, we will prevail.”
That’s Elmer Gantry-type material right there. But it’s hardly the best of the new resistance offerings.
Republican Sen. Amanda Chase took to Facebook to urge her supporters to pray and post an image of the state flag “upside down” if they agreed that the election results were “disastrous.”
Chase later went much further, saying Democrats would enact a “tsunami of extreme left legislation,” and that while the next two years would be grim indeed, God would make all things right, and in 2021, a “statewide red wave” would sweep over Virginia, restoring the House to Republican hands.
God’s got better things to do than worry about partisan control of the House of Delegates.
But underneath all that crabbed crazy is a not entirely unrealistic assertion about Democrats.
They really could go much farther, much faster than voters are willing to follow.
In a post-election tweet, Democratic Del. Ibraheem S. Samirah wrote that the new majority would “need to act boldly on the promises we made to make Virginia affordable, inclusive, & just.”
Which in Samirah’s view means “an ambitious agenda of universal health care, a Green New Deal, legalizing marijuana, codifying the right to an abortion and more.”
Fair enough. Is that flavor of progressivism going to sell outside of Fairfax County? Maybe. But it could just as easily backfire against Democrats in more purple districts where “progressive” is still a brand of insurance, not a political philosophy.
And Gov. Ralph Northam (D) could help revive the GOP. According to the New York Times’s Trip Gabriel, Northam “has not ruled out confiscating assault weapons from gun owners.”
Nothing shouts “get out the vote” more loudly or effectively among conservative circles than the threat of gun confiscation. A pre-blackface scandal Ralph Northam would have known this — and avoided it.
Wiser, cooler heads, then, need to guide both parties in the upcoming legislative session, when crafting a new two-year state budget will take center stage.
Where will those wiser, cooler heads come from? Probably the state Senate, whose members have long-enjoyed playing statesmen regardless of which party is in charge of the House or the executive mansion.