I have a rule now when I think about politics and political issues. There are several ways at looking at issues and events that I don't think every hardcore political junkie follows. There is the classic left vs. right divide that his put upon us as much as it actually real. There is also the insider versus outsider perspective and one that I'm not sure enough of us follow when thinking about how events and statements will reverberate with the regular folks. We see things in gotcha terms, like how the GOP has spent almost eight years trying to catch the Democrats in their own "maccaca moment." I have something called the Jess Test (my wife for those who don't know). I show her something or I explain an event to her and let me tell you, she is nearly 100% accurate in her reaction against how one of these controversies plays out. Its frankly uncanny.
This brings me to the Bob FitzSimmonds issue that was first brought to light here on MC but picked up with more vigor on other blogs and in some of the mainstream media. What has happened has actually been terrible, and not for what you think. This tw*tgate controversy has now become a classic establishment versus grassroots issue to attack each other with. The media has mistakenly made this about a grassroots conservative attacking establishment Barbara Comstock. That is not what happened at all, actually, and by insisting that this is the paradign that this exists in lets FitzSimmonds off the hook for what he really said and what the damage really is.
So what does this have to do with Jess? I showed her the entier Facebook converstation and she read some of the blogs, so I asked her what she thought. She said her problem was that what he said was at its core deeply sexist. Her reading was that he was putting this person down for advocating that women rise up in the party and do more. That is the point some of us have been trying to make. The establishmnet latched on to this without caring what it was really about just to attack grassroots conservatives. In turn, grassroots conservatives responded with paranoia and heightened attacks to defend FitzSimmonds because of course that is what they are going to do when the Richmond establishment starts demanding things.
What really happened was a women got on Facebook and said she supports Barbara Comstock and hoped that her campaign would energize and empower women to take a more active role in the leadership of the party. A perfectly valid viewpoint and one that I think we need personally. FitzSimmonds then put this women down and her "sexist ______" whatever he meant to say. It wasn't that he used a vulgarity, although it is beyond me how a grown man didn't know what that word is, it was the patronizing put down of her view that women should be more active in the party. Or, more accuaretly, that Republican women organize within the party and become leaders. That was the worst part about this entire episode and why I felt so strongly about calling him out on it.
These days Republicans have gotten very good at defining who isn't a Republican and who isn't conservative. Lord knows I've been guilty of it. Yet for the first time since Nixon was president, there are zero elected Republicans statewide in the commonwealth, and only by the grace of God and redristricting we have a majority in the House of Delegates and House of Representatives. If Barbara Comstock, or any other women, can be a catalyst for energizing a much needed voting group that we have done poorly with lately, then we should embrace that and not partonizingly put it down. Because what we've been doing in the last four years sure as shit hasn't been working.
What this episode has shown more than anything is that the party is too busy fighting itself to actually acknowledge when someone has made a poor decision or statement that has hurt us all. It has also shown that we have our heads deeply in the sand when it comes to actually dealing with the problems we have with every demographic that isnt old and white. We would rather yell "extremist" or "establisment" at each other because too many people are making money and getting elected off of it.