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Wednesday, October 5, 2022
Editor’s NotebookEditor’s Notebook: Back when N.Va. swung both ways

Editor’s Notebook: Back when N.Va. swung both ways

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Here’s one from the way-back column, this past week in 1980.

As Ronald Reagan and Republicans were basking in the afterglow of a big election victory, local Democrats were trying to pick up the pieces.

As late as 1980, all of Northern Virginia was up for grabs by either party. According to Northern Virginia Sun coverage, the Gipper won 26 of 39 Arlington precincts and 129 of 134 precincts in Fairfax County. In the latter jurisdiction, he rolled up 57.5 percent of the vote despite having a third-party candidate (John Anderson) jumbled up in the mix.


But the times, they were a-changing, at least in the inner-inner suburbs. Even though Reagan won a landslide re-election victory nationally in 1984, it was Walter Mondale who won the Arlington vote (Fairfax was still securely in Reagan’s hands that year). In fact, 1980 was the last time a Republican presidential candidate won, or even came close, in Arlington. Donald Trump garnered less than 20 percent of the vote each time he was on the ballot, although the 22-percent total rolled up by Glenn Youngkin last week suggests that the GOP is winning back a few votes lost during the Trump era.

THIS IS MAKING ME FEEL OLD: Wowsie: It was 32 years ago this past week that Doug Wilder was elected Virginia’s governor.

FYI to those who think I’m not a swing voter: I voted for Wilder that year, in part because Republican Marshall Coleman was all over the place, policy-wise, and in part because I have a soft spot for politicians who are vertically challenged, like me. At the time, Wilder and I (both then mere youngsters) were exactly the same height, based on the couple of times I stood next to him during the campaign. In our defense, we both would still have towered over 5’4″ James Madison, the most diminutive of our 46 presidents.

Lordy, lordy, that was 32 years ago? Where has the time gone?

BURN THE FLAG AT YOUR OWN HOUSE: There have been at least three cases in recent weeks across Arlington where flags attached to homes (or to flagpoles near homes) have been set ablaze at night.

You’d think the setting that flag on fire would get me worked up, being the right-thinking flag-appreciating patriotic American that I am. But frankly, it does not. While I, like the Blues Brothers, hate Illinois Nazis, I really just feel somewhat sad for flag-burners. Just a cry for attention, like a 2-year-old.

That said, do the burning on your own time and at your own homes, people.

These three incidents all fall under the category of “arson” in any reasonable person’s book, and should be treated as such by law enforcement, prosecutors (good luck …) and the court system. It wouldn’t take much for a flag on fire to ignite a house, and suddenly you’ve got a bunch of dead people.

– Scott McCaffrey

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