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Meet You in the Middle: Virginia showdown and the national lines in the sand

By Shay McNeal

Virginia is under the microscope in their gubernatorial election this week; this is fitting since so many of the creators of the United States Constitution and the Bill of Rights hailed from the Old Dominion. By all measure, this race is the very demonstration of irony that the Old Dominion of 2021 is proving to be a peek into the psyche of our present-day nation.

During the final debate of the governor’s race in Virginia, one would have thought that the leading issue at that point — the economy — would prevail. However, surprisingly, education, which had been a smoldering issue, turned into a blaze threatening to burn up former Governor Terry McAuliffe’s (2014 -2018) campaign. He has reordered his messaging. What happened? McAuliffe uttered the following: “I don’t think parents should be telling schools what they should teach.” His ten-point lead against his Republican opponent Glenn Youngkin sank. The outcry of usually silent parents became astonishingly activistic as their voices rang out across the country.

McAuliffe’s comment has proven to have national repercussions. It hit a responsive chord and awakened citizens to the fact that the very philosophies embraced by both Republicans and Democrats were real — all too real. The reaction went far beyond a single issue. This burning issue and others might end McAuliffe’s quest but, even if he survives, there is no doubt the smoldering tenders will be reignited in the midterms of 2022.

Seeing this explode engineered a quick Google search of important issues on the left and on the right. On the left, we have the Progressive Democrats of America and on the right, The Heritage Foundation.

How do they stack up?

Voting — PDA

The welcome sight of paper ballots being recounted to publicly confirm results in Arizona and Georgia was testament to PDA’s work and the democracy movement that has grown exponentially since we were trailblazers … Suppression and stealth are being exposed. But the right is fighting back with suppression and gerrymandering in many states, and refusal to pass any federal voting protections … PDA continues to advocate, to organize and to educate … putting the “free” back in free speech by ending the unrestricted buying of candidates and elections.

Voting — Heritage

Contrary to the claims of many on the left, voter fraud is a very real problem. When someone commits voter fraud, the process is no longer fair, everyone’s vote gets diluted, and in some cases, election results are changed … Whether they’re selecting a mayor or the president of the U.S., every American must be able to trust the process, or the democratic system itself breaks down. … It is easier today than ever before in our nation’s history for eligible Americans to participate in the electoral process. The permanent, nationwide provisions of the Voting Rights Act are more than adequate to protect voting rights in the rare instances where discrimination occurs. S. 4/H.R. 4 is a politically motivated federal power grab designed to thwart necessary election reform and manipulate redistricting decisions made by the states.

Education — PDA

Not listed on issue rubric.

Education — Heritage

Effective education policy includes returning authority to the states and empowering parents with the opportunity to choose a safe and effective education for their children. American colleges and universities are failing to equip students with the tools they need for a career. Many students graduate ill-prepared to earn a living and pay off the debt … 40 percent of those who start college don’t finish within six years … students are often subject to indoctrination into socialist ideology. They face hostility toward opinions that don’t conform to the predominantly leftist thinking on campus … Earlier this year, the NSBA urged President Joe Biden’s administration to pursue policies that advance critical race theory in schools. As parents and community members have voiced opposition to these ideas, the NSBA and other interest groups have used intimidation to censor these engaged families … Garland “directed the FBI and U.S. Attorney’s Offices to meet in the next 30 days” and “discuss strategies” for dealing with “harassment, intimidation and threats of violence.” He did so after the NSBA sent a letter to the White House asking for “extraordinary measures” to investigate parents and others attending meetings.

PDA — Immigration

PDA stands for fundamental fairness and equality for all. We are working with our allies in the forefront of the fight for justice and human rights for the millions of our immigrant neighbors and friends. We strongly support federal legislation that will give legal status and a path to citizenship for all undocumented persons living in the U.S. We call for a stop to all raids, detention and deportation, and an end to the criminalization of immigrant communities. We believe that U.S. Immigration Customs Enforcement (ICE) should be abolished and replaced with an agency whose first mission is human rights, fairness and family unification. We call for a government policy that provides protection and security without walls and militarization at our borders. We believe that the root causes of migration [are] income inequality, U.S. government oppression and support for corrupt governments and climate change to name a few …

Heritage — Immigration

Which America will you choose? It’s perhaps never been more important to ask: What kind of country do I want to live in, work in and raise my family in? What kind of America do I believe? ... Immigration is one of the fundamental building blocks that help make America the unique nation that it is. But the debate over border security and immigration has become toxic because politicians have put politics before principles. And reasonable Americans find themselves trapped between zealots on both sides. The debate is not about whether we should allow immigration — it’s about how we do so in a way that protects American sovereignty, respects the rule of law and is beneficial to all Americans.

A few offhand comments on PDA’s and Heritage’s websites

PDA: We advocate for the withdrawal of U.S. troops and contractors from endless wars across the Middle East and other areas of the world. We oppose the unbalanced policy of U.S. sanctions on countries of Iran, Venezuela and Cuba, while simultaneously giving political and military aid to repressive governments that are our so-called allies … Time and again, whether we are seeking sensible health care, environmental, economic or foreign policy — supported by a majority of Americans — we hit a barrier, because corporate lobbyists and donors have managed to get between our legislators and us. National and local media is right-wing and true journalism has suffered.

Heritage: Biden doesn’t have much to brag about on the foreign relations front. Indeed, in his first week in the Oval Office, the president seemed determined to elevate partisan politics over good policy. … The White House should be building on policies to promote collective security and economic cooperation that blocks Iran, China and Russia … Biden seems more concerned with resurrecting Obama’s failed Middle East agenda.

There is so much more. I urge you to go to their websites and become informed about their views which might inform you about who you are vis a vis ideologies. By the way, Russia and China sat out of the most important meetings of world leaders just days ago. Why? Hard to meet in the middle.

Shay McNeal is assistant publisher and editor at large of the Charleston Mercury; she divides her time between Northern Virginia and Charleston and may be reached at

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