If the Virginia Republican Party wants to move past the far right candidates that shut them out of their state’s top offices last November, they may not want to take advice from people who believe that most of the Twentieth Century is unconstitutional.
This weekend, Virginia Republican activists and elected officials from around the state will gather at the Homestead Resort for the party’s first opportunity to take full stock of a disastrous election season that likely turned the GOP out of all three of Virginia’s top state offices. Tea Party Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli lost his bid for the state governor’s mansion to very weak Democratic candidate. The party’s failed candidate for lieutenant governor was a right-wing activist who said Democrats are worse than the Ku Klux Klan. And their candidate to replace Cuccinelli is narrowly behind apparent Attorney General-elect Mark Herring (D), although a recount is currently pending.
The Virginia GOP’s dismal performance in 2013 is widely blamed on their failure to nominate candidates who appeal to voters beyond the party’s hardcore base. Cuccinelli, for example, authored a book that labeled programs like Medicare “despicable, dishonest, and worthy of condemnation.” And he has a long history of fighting to keep laws criminalizing oral and anal sex on the books. Yet, if the speakers program for this year’s meeting at the Homestead is any indication, Virginia Republicans appear to believe that they are doing just fine running candidates like Ken Cuccinelli.
The keynote speaker at the gathering’s 30th Anniversary Gala is Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R). In a 2010 speech to the conservative American Legislative Exchange Council, Perry desribed Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid as unconstitutional attacks on “our founding fathers’ boundaries that they had put upon the federal government.” Perry also believes that the Seventeenth Amendment, which ensures that voters will choose their own senators, was a mistake. And he once suggested that Texas may have to secede from the union.
The event’s Saturday morning awards luncheon featured Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-VA), the chair of the House Judiciary Committee. Like Perry, Goodlatte believes that Medicare and Social Security are unconstitutional. At a town hall meeting in 2011, a constituent told Goodlatte that he’s “searched my Constitution for 20 years and I can’t find Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security in there.” Goodlatte agreed, replying that “it’s not in the Constitution. The courts have stretched the Constitution to say its in the general welfare clause.”
Notably the public schedule for the Virginia GOP gathering lists just six featured speakers for the entire event, which means that at least one third of these speakers believe that our nation’s most fundamental promises to elderly Americans are unconstitutional.