Wednesday, January 27, 2021

Censure

I've not been following the sage of the Virginia Senate and its censure resolution recently, but I did watch the end today. First, I watched it almost end yesterday.

The Virginia Senate nearly acted on the resolution yesterday until a tearful defiance was declared to be in the context of a relative having had open-heart surgery yesterday. One senator had compassion to defer for a day, only to have that followed up later that evening with a series of attacks from said senator on social media. So much for needing time to focus on family. Perhaps those were posts by staff, but even so, that confirms a lack of discretion and control.

Today, one Senator after another got up and described the utter lack of any positive relationships anyone had with the soon-to-be censured senator. One of the more compelling comments was the claim that the senator had “lied on the Senate floor.” One such lie may have occurred today when she claimed multiple times that no one had ever specifically personally talked to her about concerns. At least one senator described doing exactly that and receiving no positive response. Several senators raised several examples of highly objectionable instances of comments. When she responded after everyone else had spoken, responses to those specific concerns remained absent.

One of the stranger parts of all this is how vigorous a defense was mounted for something that supposedly would subsequently be worn as a “badge of honor.” Why would you repeatedly seek to pass by the resolution for another day if it would be an honor? Why would you tearfully request time to focus on family instead of crafting a response?

Every senator that spoke was very somber in talking about their concerns. It should have been abundantly clear that the Virginia Senate had reached this point after long and necessary deliberation over inexcusable behavior. The moment should have been met with a humble contrite spirit.

The final response was anything but those things. She came out swinging with her first comment implying that there were multiple other senators who deserved to be censured more than she did. That's not a defense. She knew nothing about how to speak to her other senators on the floor—not by name but by geography. She clearly had no idea where her fellow senators were even from without consulting a list. She supposedly had sought to make amends with her prior party, and then a day later threatened to start a new party.

There are ways to push an institution and a party to be better. Burning it down, figuratively speaking, should not be one of them. Today, the institution pushed back.

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