Potomac News Online | Outgoing supervisor’s endorsement betrays her own principles

Napoleon famously declared, “The State is me.” The retiring Occoquan supervisor has declared that the Republican Party in Prince William County is me. Or that it “marches” to my “drum.”

I suppose that I should wish that it were true. But I don’t bear that burden. My cacophonous racket provides neither beat nor melody to the GOP, but is merely a commentary upon it.? Sometimes, even a criticism or two.

At first, I was inclined to ignore her invitation to treat her action as “fodder” for my column, on the principle that, by word and deed, the retiring Occoquan supervisor has or should have rendered herself politically irrelevant to the impending general elections. To suggest that anything she does could be fodder “to last a year or two” is narcissism in extremis.

In firing her parting shots at the GOP as she walked out the door, the retiring Occoquan supervisor tried to take a few others down. Perhaps most curious is her heavy-handed attempt to injure Republican nominee Corey Stewart, by endorsing Independent (Libertarian?) Robert McBride, both running to replace her.

A few people have suggested to me that McBride has been downplaying his Libertarian credentials in this race. Knowledgeable observers of Prince William politics would not take such efforts seriously, since he has previously run as the Libertarian candidate. And such a strategy would be a fool’s errand, since McBride is prominently featured on the Web site of the Virginia Libertarian Party. Indeed, he is the only one of “our candidates” listed there. Nevertheless, a visit to his Web site indicates that the word “libertarian” appears but once. Odd.

Now, I can’t say that McBride is a friend (perhaps especially after this column is published), though he is an acquaintance. We serve together on the board of the Prince William Taxpayers’ Alliance. And I respect him as a man of conscience, consistent positions and uncompromising values. I agree with many of them.

But Mr. McBride’s intellectual and well thought-out principles have led him politically to the Libertarian Party, where we must part company. I cannot abide a political party which is ambiguous about abortion (though many Libertarians declare themselves to be pro-life, the party takes no position), and isolationist on foreign policy. Libertarianism goes too far down the path to license, and therefore diverges from the path of ordered liberty bequeathed to us by the Framers.

Moreover, I am practical enough to cast my lot with the GOP in the understanding that, as a major political party, working within it is the most effective way of advancing the principles that I hold. And few would ever accuse me of compromising my principles and doing less than fighting to see them enacted as GOP policy.

It is in McBride’s principles that I fail to understand the endorsement of the incumbent Occoquan supervisor. Which of those of his Libertarian principles which diverge from the GOP does she endorse? Drug legalization? Complete elimination of obscenity laws and regulation of so-called “adult bookstores”? Ending restrictions against the distribution and possession of child pornography? To be sure, the incumbent Occoquan supervisor cited in her letter to this paper the usual laundry list of supposedly relevant “community service” credentials possessed by McBride (many courtesy of her appointment), but other than mentioning the word “platform,” cited not a single position held by McBride which has anything to do with what actions he promises as a member of the board of county supervisors. To his credit, McBride’s Web site offers more in the way of substance.

Perhaps most interesting is the fact that the retiring Occoquan supervisor has aligned herself with the so-called “smart growth” crowd. In so doing, she was one of only two county supervisors (the other being Dumfries’ Maureen Caddigan) to defy the board’s majority and fight endorsement of last year’s sales tax increase referendum.

And that’s why her endorsement of McBride makes little sense. After all, the national Libertarian Party’s Statement of Principles announces that “we oppose all government interference with private property.” How can that position be squared with the “smart growth” of which the retiring Occoquan supervisor has attempted to be the poster child? The simple answer is that it cannot be.

Sadly, the retiring Occoquan supervisor’s actions seem motivated by less high minded motives than by petulance, which is betrayed by her mention of a briefly declared independent candidate for the Coles District supervisor’s seat, Tom Burrell. While accusing the county GOP Committee of “driv[ing him] out of the race” (if they could, he never should have been a candidate), the retiring Occoquan supervisor tells only part of the story.

She fails to mention the part about Burrell using GOP resources to promote his candidacy among Republican Committee members, getting many of them to his announcement under the false pretense that he would be running as a Republican. Indeed, there were many Republicans who would have been happy to see him enter the GOP race, since they perceived the incumbent as having been weakened and her opponent and eventual nominee as a candidate whose ambition exceeds by several orders of magnitude his ability.

The county Republican Committee did not drivee Burrell out of the race. His own dishonorable conduct did. That Republicans blew the whistle on that dishonorable conduct seems to be more offensive to the retiring Occoquan supervisor than the conduct itself.

But the more interesting fact unmentioned in the retiring Occoquan supervisor’s letter is why she cared so much about Burrell’s candidacy, one which reveals her own questionable conduct.? In communications responding to my comments at the time of the contretemps, she admitted that both she and Connaughton had recruited Burrell for the race. It might have been nice for her to have mentioned that in her public comments, because it casts her actions and criticisms of the GOP – as well as Connaughton’s – in a decidedly negative light. And it explains her current behavior.

Petulance is a pretty pathetic reason to do anything.?It’s a particularly poor excuse for a public official’s behavior, even one who is retiring.

An attorney, Young lives with his wife and their two sons in Montclair.

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