The mind wandered earlier this month to the career of the late Fairfax County Board of Supervisors Chairman Jack Herrity (R), and how his doomed re-election campaign of 1987 might well serve as a cautionary tale for Democrats (yep, Democrats) in 2022.
The campaign for the Fairfax board chairmanship in 1987 featured a battle-royale between go-go-go-growth Herrity and slow-slow-and-maybe-no-growth Democrat Audrey Moore. It is, at best, a fading memory to those who of us who were here and engaged at the time (guilty!); ancient history to those either not old enough or not living in the local area back then. But not without relevance today.
The seminal issue, as suggested a paragraph above, was growth. Moore for years had led a usually lonely and often ridiculed effort, as a district supervisor, to slow it down across Fairfax, while Herrity and most of the rest of the supervisors (Republicans and Democrats alike) wanted to keep the pedal to the metal, development-wise.
Herrity spent much of that campaign telling the electorate in 1987 it should be appreciative of the fruits of Fairfax’s massive growth spurt, even if it caused some problematic side effects.
After, all, he posited while out on the stump, better to be stuck on a clogged road on the way to a job than have empty highways yet no employment opportunities.
Yes, but … as it turned out, Herrity completely misread the Fairfax electorate that year. The voters WERE worried about the impact of growth, and wanted the burner turned down just a notch. As a result, Herrity and a few of his go-go-growth colleagues got the heave-ho and Moore became board chairman. (For a single term, that is, until voters dumped her, too. But that’s a story for another day.)
What does Jack Herrity of 1987 have to do with Democrats of 2022? He seemed, and they seem, to be trying to happy-talk and/or sweet-talk their way out of problems (some of their own making, some not) rather than own up to the very real and increasing concerns of voters.
Democrats at the national level soon will arrive at the election fork in the road: Either keep on keepin’ on with the tale that everything’s hunky-dory despite mounting evidence to the contrary, or acknowledge the angst of the electorate, stop blaming Orange Man and offer solutions to tackle the woes of 2022.
Merely hoping that Republicans will yet again blow a gimme-putt on Election Day is not much of a strategy. Nor does it serve the public well.