Editorial Response: America's Challenges Transcend Party Politics
By James S. Gilmore III
Published: January 18, 2009
Lynchburg News Advance
On Jan. 12, The News & Advance published an editorial expressing skepticism as to whether it was such a good idea for Gov. Tim Kaine to become the chairman of the Democratic National Committee.
The editor could not help tossing a few rocks at me, since I was likewise appointed chairman of the Republican National Committee in my last year as governor. Since I care about the opinion held of me by readers of The News & Advance, I want to respond to the negative comments about me and suggest where our focus really should be.
In 2001, the year I was national chairman, I always put Virginia and the governorship first. To the extent I fought with Republicans or Democrats in that year, it was a fight on behalf of the taxpayers, to balance the budget and deliver on the promised car tax cut. But for that fight, your readers and all Virginians would be paying much higher car taxes right now. I certainly didn't ignore the recession in 2001, and I used my authority as governor to balance the budget when the State Senate adjourned without warning and without passing budget amendments. In 2001, I also handled the crisis of Sept. 11, and I left a balanced budget while delivering on the car tax cut.
But this is very old news. Since those days in the governor's office, I have run for the U.S. Senate. While I was not successful, I came away with a sense of the great crisis that faces our commonwealth and our nation.
Between 1999 and 2003 I served as chairman of the Federal Commission on Terrorism, and I developed an expertise that was helpful in my response to the attack on Virginia at the Pentagon on Sept. 11. In light of the events in Gaza, Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Russia and other hotspots, I believe the danger to America is greater than ever. The safety of the U.S. will require strength and possibly more sacrifice to make us safe, not naiveté and generalities.
The current financial crisis has been painful, and we are all trying to find the right answer. As we work through this difficulty, however, someone has to remember the taxpayer. All this bailout money is money taxed from ordinary citizens trying to make their way and support their families. If the bailout results in losses, the big spenders in Washington will be back asking the taxpayer to foot the bill through even higher taxes in the name of "fiscal responsibility."
The AFL-CIO and other unions are determined to radically change the course of American industrial relations by its "card check" bill to deny employees the right to a secret ballot election in union organization. With this government in place in Washington, it's time for a genuine assessment as to whether we want to maintain our right to work laws, or not.
The radical environmentalists seem determined to alter our quality of life and perhaps our liberties in the name of "global warming." A "cap and trade" system to limit carbon emissions may have the effect of nationalizing for the first time the right to conduct industrial activity. Permission may be necessary from government to engage in business, maybe even permission from authorities beyond our borders.
The biggest issue of all may be energy policy, affecting our domestic economy and our national security. We seem determined to launch into inefficient and experimental programs instead of urgently and decisively developing our domestic oil and other energy resources. While I support the development of alternative energy, high oil prices are coming back and we cannot wait to develop our oil fields offshore and in Alaska.
These, among others, are the issues of the day, not whether I, eight years ago, or Tim Kaine today should accept the chairmanship of a national political party. I am confident and optimistic that the people of Virginia and the nation will adopt good approaches that enhance liberty and our quality of life.
I intend to form a political action committee to address these crucial issues, and I hope many reading this op/ed commentary will join me.
The elections are over, and I do not seek another candidacy. But I do intend to add my voice to these debates as we all face the extraordinary challenges ahead.
Gilmore, a Republican, served as governor of the Commonwealth of Virginia from 1998 to 2002. He was his party's nominee for the U.S. Senate in 2008.