OPINION: Kaine empathizes with American people, Allen falls short

Former Governor Kaine in a debate against former Governor Allen (Photo courtesy of Giarc80HC)
Former Governor Kaine in a debate against former Governor Allen (Photo courtesy of Giarc80HC)

The very fact that George Allen has primarily run his campaign touting his record and credentials as a responsible “fiscal conservative” is perhaps the most ridiculous assertion I have heard all campaign season, and that is saying something. The best comparable analogy would be General Pinochet boasting about his stellar human rights record. As is often the case in politics, Allen’s rhetoric about being such an ardent deficit hawk simply fails to match reality.

Allen was first elected in 2000—the end of Bill Clinton’s second term—when the U.S. federal government was producing large annual budget surpluses. Then-Senator Allen proceeded to vote in favor of two giant tax cuts that disproportionately benefited the rich and wealthy, two off-budget wars and a sham of a prescription drug bill, which did almost nothing to help seniors or reduce drug prices, actually serving as a major handout to the pharmaceutical industry. Most egregiously of all, Allen is insistent that not a dime of deficit reduction can come from the pockets of America’s wealthiest and most affluent in the forms of a slightly higher tax rates. He demands that seniors, college students and poor, struggling families sacrifice even more so that individuals in the top two percent can continue to receive an additional tax cut—on top of the one that they have enjoyed for the past decade. This is not only obscenely and inherently immoral, it’s bad policy; moreover, it’s contrary to what polls have suggested the vast majority of Americans want. Cutting public education, Pell Grants, Food Stamps, Social Security and Medicare all so that millionaires are not forced to share in the sacrifice is not bold leadership.

It’s also worth mentioning that when Tim Kaine assumed the governorship of Virginia, he cut his own pay in order to balance the state’s budget. During his 6-year tenure in the U.S. Senate, Allen voted to increase his own pay 4 times. Kaine’s record has been one of a genuine public servant, while Allen has only worked to serve himself. 

Though Allen claims that tax cuts on the wealthiest individuals and most profitable corporations will create jobs and stimulate economic growth, he conveniently omits the fact that, while the richest Americans have enjoyed the lowest marginal tax rate since the 1930’s, America has also suffered the worst recession in 80 years. So Allen is either uninformed, or worse, a demagogue who shamelessly acts as a mouthpiece for the most successful and powerful in our country. In either instance, he is hardly the man I want to be our Senator.

But even more offensive than his actual economic policies and voting record is what Allen represents. As a Senator, he frequently engaged in the most deplorable and blatant of race-baiting. Most residents of the Commonwealth are familiar with the now infamous “Macaca” incident, in which he hurled racial epithets at an Indian-American man at a campaign stop in Southwestern VA and then proceeded to traduce and impugn him as not being a “real Virginian.” Allen also has the dubious distinction of being one of very few Senators who, in 2006, opposed a renewal of the 1965 Voting Rights Act, insinuating that the Act was unnecessary and unconstitutional. Additionally, Allen displayed both a Confederate flag and noose in his law office. Perhaps most shocking of all of these occurrences is the fact that, as governor in 1997, Allen declared during Confederate History Month that the Civil War was a “four year struggle for independence and sovereign rights.” It isn’t difficult to tell where his sympathies lie, is it? While Allen may be more than happy to linger in the shadows of Virginia’s dark and ugly past, I think you’ll find most Virginians instead are looking to the future and are not interested in having a pseudo-segregationist as their elected representative. Either former Senator Allen is personally prejudiced, or he’s shamelessly pandering to those who are with hopes of gaining political advantage. I’m not quite sure which is more reprehensible.

This election promises to be a close one; it might be as close as it was in 2006, when Allen lost his Senate seat by less than 9,000 votes—approximately 1/3rd of a percentage point. The choice is a stark one too. It is between George Allen, who has, throughout his career, engaged in the most vitriolic of race-baiting and used the most divisive rhetoric in a generation to score political points or Tim Kaine, who began his career working as an civil rights attorney in inner-city Richmond, representing individuals who had been discriminated against and denied housing because of their color. It’s a choice between a man who advocated for universal healthcare as the Democratic Party chairman, or the man who says that he’ll work to “repeal and replace” the federal program he derisively refers to as "Obamacare” but won’t say with what he’ll replace it. It’s a choice between a man who produced year after year of balanced budgets for our state or the man who gave us mountains of federal debt. It’s a choice between a new and more promising future for Virginia or the same thoroughly discredited and failed trickle-down policies of the past. I know what side I am on, and I know who I am voting for. I sincerely hope that my fellow voters in the Commonwealth chose wisely.

I hope they join me in supporting Tim Kaine.


Opinions expressed in this column are solely the beliefs of the writer. 

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