The first settlers of European descent were loyal subjects to the English King George II they settled in Virginia with the sole purpose of creating trade goods and then sending them back to England. Over time, the colonists resented the obligation that had been imposed on them by the crown and began to feel the need for independence. Virginia among the original 13 colonies and is mostly considered the birthplace of four presidents of the United States. Virginia joined the union in June 1788 and by 1992, Virginia controlled 15.4% of the electoral votes cast in the U.S. Virginians have always sided with the democrats as far back as the post civil war reconstruction era. The Republican Party is one of the two major political parties in Virginia. Although founded in 1854 with strong opposition for slavery, the party did not gain ground until after the civil war of 1861- 1865.
After the civil war, Virginia was in a great political turmoil having lost 48 counties. This led the democrats to swoop in and regain the state’s legislature, where they used a new constitution and statute, which had provisions such as the poll tax, literacy requirements and residency requirements. Their sole aim was to disfranchise the African Americans as well as poor whites, which lasted until the mid 1960s.
The democrats retained a one-party state which went on unchallenged in most state and federal offices all through to the mid 20th century. It was through the Byrd organization that African Americans gained the much-needed support for the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and consequently the Voting Rights Act of 1965. These acts provided oversight and enforcement, which maintained that all citizens of age have the ability to vote. The Republican Party competed on rare occasions with the Byrd organization, but this changed after the civil war when a republican held office for sixteen years. However, full-scale competition began in 1952 when Dwight D. Eisenhower, the war hero ran for the presidency on a republican ticket. This brought forth an era of competition and rigorous change in Virginia.
The economic state of Virginia requires that middle class workers, families and small businesses have a certain economic stability in order to have valuable outcomes (Virginia Center). The democrats, as well as the president, have worked tirelessly to create jobs, reduce the federal deficit, promote economic growth, which are all in line with the economic recovery. In recent times, the Virginian economy has been a major issue both as a state and as a member of the United States of America. Dissatisfaction with the economy is very high with voters worried about the state of their economy within the next year. However, Virginia has had a long history of governance by both the republicans and the democrats and within that time, the state has evolved into the new Virginia.
The republican rule, on the other hand, had lasted for a long time before Eisenhower upset the balance (Ferebee, 38). The victory by Eisenhower brought forward competition within a large democrat dominated Virginia. For example, Theodore Roosevelt “Ted” Dalton rose to the ranks as a formidable party builder and energetic campaigner. As a republican, he was conservative on national issues while at the same time being ambitious on state matters. His reforms were meant to increase political participation and at the same time modernizing the state government. Following the success of Eisenhower, Theodore’s candidacy was perceived to be a sure win until he placed doubt after his announcement of favoring the bond-financed road construction. This announcement was seen to favor Byrd’s anti-debt orthodoxy, which was seen to favor the democrat’s way of doing things.
The history of Virginian politics has largely been rigid when it comes to voting and political leadership. From time to time, the boat has been rocked by a few daring men but the leadership has remained the same for a long time. For instance, the state of West Virginia has had a largely democratic leadership for a very long time with Robert C. Byrd leading the people from congress and the senate. He remained in politics as a member of the House for 57 years, which made him the longest serving member of congress as recorded in the history of the United States. On the other hand, he served as a United States Senator from 1959-2010, which also made him the longest serving senator. In addition, he served as a democratic senate leader for West Virginia from 1977-1989.
West Virginia has remained a republican Democratic state for long, holding on to their policies and belief (Buchanan, 287). For example, in the 1988 Republican landslide, West Virginia was the only southern State to give votes to Michael Dukakis. According to the Republican Party policies in Virginia, voters are not necessarily required to register by party for one to vote in the primaries. The cold war, which ended in the 1950s, was commonly known as dangerous times but during the Eisenhower regime Americans found solace. They were less worried about the depression of war like they did in 1930s (politics1.com). Instead Americans were busy enjoying the booming economy under the republican president. More freedom allowed the citizens to own private property such as cars, televisions and transistor radios. However, the Eisenhower years were characterized by tough economic choices such as maintaining a prosperous economy or government spending on infrastructure. Moreover, the issue of protecting the Americans citizens’ freedom and at the same time enforcing the rule of law pushed the president to making tough decisions on issues of the nation and the civil rights.
Eisenhower, as a president opposed the Fair Deal that had been implemented by President Harry Truman’s regime during the cold war. On the other hand, he did not share the extremists Republican Conservatives views that involved the elimination of both a Fair Deal and the new Deal programs and in turn rolling back the government regulations of the economy. Instead, he ushered in a new republican policy, which favored individual freedoms, as well as freedom in the market economy. The republican party sort to provide benefits for the American citizens for instance, legislation was signed which expanded social security created the department of health, increased minimum wage, and created a department of education and welfare. However, during the last years of his presidency, the president had a few run-ins with the democrats in the Senate and the House. The democrats proposed programs that were expensive and would take out more money from the citizen’s pockets, which the Republican Party greatly opposed. However, domestic spending continued to rise from 31% in 1953 to 49% in 1961.
The Democratic party of Virginia organization is headed by a state party plan which gives an open and fair selection process. Though the party has members and elected officials all over the state, it gets the highest votes from Tidewater area, Metropolitan Richmond and Suburban Washington, D.C (Brisbin, 25). The Democratic Party is known to have dominated Virginia politics. Among the 39 governors directly elected by the voters 34 are democrats and five have been Republicans. However, in the 1990s the party made profits. The policies helped in restoring economic security and delivered jobs as well as protected home ownership. It protected homeowners by providing full and accurate loan disclosure to homebuyers. Still, it supported higher standards of accountability for the mortgage industry to protect consumers from abusive lending practices.
In addition, it protected workers by helping them form bargaining units and believing in the principles (William, 624). Small businesses and entrepreneurship were also supported by allowing small businesses to bid on contracts. It is the policy of the democratic part to help all Virginians to achieve the American dream regardless of race, religion or political affiliation. Quality and affordable health care is assured by supporting policies that cater for affordable health care for all the citizens. The Virginian economy can only be progressive if the citizens are well taken care of. The poor and uninsured are helped by starting programs that help children, pregnant women and other disabled persons.
The Civil Rights Act of 1964 was pivotal to the concept of discrimination. It outlawed discrimination based on color, religion, race, sex or nationality. It brought to an end unequal use of voter registration that was a requirement and racial discrimination in schools, workplaces and in the offices that served public interest. In Virginia, the case was no different and it has remained so to date. John F. Kennedy signed the new law in 1963, which gave all Americans the right to be served in any facility that opened to the public in Virginia there is no single outright law that protects people from discrimination based on their sexual orientation, identity or expression in both the public and private sectors. An individual could be fired because of their sexual orientation whether real or perceived. They can also get fired based on their gender or expression. This ultimately means that anyone can lose their job if his or her employer thinks that the individual is either gay or lesbian or because he thinks that the employee is neither masculine enough nor feminine enough either in dressing or demeanor.
In conclusion, the state of Virginia has enjoyed both republican and Democratic leadership. This has brought forth different ideologies ad different types of leaders who have worked for ensuring that Virginians have a healthy economy since the post cold war era. Although Virginia has been a Democratic Party dominated state the presence of the Republican Party, and the competition it presents ensures that only the best policies are passed for the citizens. Since, President Eisenhower’s tenure and his review of the New Deal to the much more recent gender discrimination, Virginia still has some skeletons in the closet that needs to be unveiled. However, the economy of Virginia top notch even at the face of such policies.
Brisbin, Richard A.. West Virginia politics and government. 2nd ed. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 2008.
Buchanan, William. “The Democratic Party Primary in Virginia: Tantamount to Election No Longer. By Larry Sabato. (Charlottesville: The University Press of Virginia, 1977. Pp. viii, 169. $9.95.).” The Journal of Politics 41, no. 01 (1979): 287.
Virginia Center”Virginia.(INSIDE POLITICS: ACROSS STATE LINES)(driving while intoxicated )(Brief article).” Campaigns & Elections, October 1, 2007.
Ferebee, Steve. “Virginia Woolf and the Nature of Communion, and: Virginia Woolf and the Politics of Style, and: The Invisible Presence: Virginia Woolf and the Mother-Daughter Relationship, and: Virginia Woolf and the Real World (review).” MFS Modern Fiction Studies 33, no. 2 (1987): 354-357.
William Pickett Beatty). “Eisenhower: Soldier-Statesman of the American Century, and: General Eisenhower: Ideology and Discourse (review).” The Journal of Military History 67, no. 2 (2003): 623-625.
“Politics1 – Online Guide to Virginia Elections, Candidates & Politics.” Politics1 – Online Guide to Virginia Elections, Candidates & Politics. http://www.politics1.com/va.htm (accessed April 21, 2014).
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