A scene common to the many western movies that I saw for a quarter in the movie theatre in the town of Shenandoah was that of a buckboard wagon with a passenger or two on board being pulled by a couple of sturdy horses kicking up the dust as they crossed the prairie to flee from someone or to rescue someone. For whatever reason the horses would sometime break free from the wagon tongue and would run free from the weight of pulling the wagon. At the speed it was traveling the wagon would rumble down the hill and over an incline before crashing. It was not violent in those days but rather entertaining to see the horses go in one direction and the buckboard wagon go in another.
In recent months I have felt that I am seeing that movie scene all over again as I follow what is happening in Virginia government in the current administration. A case in point happened just over a week ago as the Virginia Air Board that had been stacked with Youngkin appointees voted to approve one of the governor’s promises to withdraw Virginia from the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI). On that day I could hardly see the houses on the end of my short street for what appeared to be fog only later to learn it was smoke from Canada. Roads were closed throughout the Northeast and events were canceled because the smoke from the burning forests in Canada was creating a record-breaking smog. Cleaning up the air requires a regional solution for the boundaries of our nations and states do not create a barrier that shields us from pollution. It was like the scientists and experts were going in one direction, and the politicians and industrial interests had suddenly become disengaged with a political agenda that will leave much of society in the ditch as they go off with their special interests.
I got the same feeling when Governor Youngkin had a hundred members of the Virginia National Guard pack up their belongings and leave their families and jobs to head off to Texas to help the governor there satisfy his need to publicize the immigration problem that has existed there for decades under the leadership of both political parties. Other Republican governors did the same thing with no clear purpose other than to create publicity around an issue that requires bipartisanship and not a dusty run across the country leaving many families and individuals with their lives in a ditch.
Governor Youngkin came into office driving his buckboard wagon on education proclaiming the schools as being a failure irrespective of the fact that the schools had been mostly closed or virtual because of the pandemic. It was painful to watch his buckboard try to get moving with new standards and regulations for in this period of graduations we are reminded of the exceptional job our schools are doing. In the meantime the governor’s buckboard has run aground for lack of good information and alternatives for our already exceptional schools.
Be aware when a team of horses pulling a buckboard wagon stirs up the dust as it passes by. It may just be a dust screen!