My husband Andy, our friend Laura, and I were talking over lunch recently about how I might reach more people with my climate message. ¬†(See Some Big News–Part I)
Andy, who is remarkably creative and a great strategic thinker, came up with the idea that there was a platform right here in Virginia’s political arena, available to me. ¬† Andy saw a perfect intersection between climate change and the high degree of corruption in our Virginia government. ¬†Even people who are not receptive to my climate message most likely don’t want a state government that regularly sacrifices the public good to wealthy special interests.
When our current state senator Mark Obenshain, a powerful, well-funded, savvy politician, acts to impede responsible action on climate, that’s just part of a much larger picture of the corruption of our legislature by big money. ¬†The General Assembly’s deplorable refusal to address the climate crisis takes us directly into the deep sickness in Virginia politics today. ¬†Obenshain, who came close to winning statewide office two years ago, and many of his fellow legislators, are serving as lackeys for big corporate interests. ¬†
For example, the General Assembly just passed a bill to exempt the utility Dominion Power from state oversight for five years. ¬†Obenshain supported the¬†legislation (written by Dominion itself) that will increase the monopoly’s profits, at the cost of higher utility bills for more than two million households (including tens of thousands of customers here in the district Obenshain is supposed to represent).¬†
Related to the grip big money holds over the General Assembly is the refusal by Obenshain and many of his colleagues to enact meaningful ethics reform. ¬†In the wake of an ethics scandal that¬†resulted in former Governor McDonnell being sentenced to prison, Obenshain and others succeeded in blocking real reform. ¬†Instead, the legislature passed a toothless gesture that changes little.
And ethics reform is sorely needed! ¬†The nonpartisan Center for Public Integrity (CPI) ranks Virginia 47th among the 50 states when it comes to government integrity. ¬†Further, Virginia earns an F on the corruption risk report card CPI issues for each state.
These terrible ethics scores are unacceptable to me, and I imagine, to a great many other Virginians, liberal and conservative alike. ¬†Mark Obenshain is on the wrong side of the ethics issue, and a vigorous truth-telling campaign against him might get even good conservatives who have supported him in the past to see that. ¬†
Fighting for a General Assembly that serves the people, rather than big corporate interests, is an essential part of fighting for an effective response to the climate crisis here in Virginia. ¬†We can’t let Obenshain and his ilk sacrifice our grandchildren for the short-term profits of a giant monopoly utility.
And so, on March 17, in Harrisonburg, Virginia, I will officially announce my campaign¬†against Mark Obenshain to represent this district in the Virginia state senate. ¬†So my work as a climate warrior is taking a new and unexpected turn.
And now I have a special additional reason to move outside my comfort zone for this mission. ¬†More on that in the next installment!–April Moore