The Washington Post has the scoop on what Virginia’s Republican gubernatorial candidate really believes:
At age 34, two years before his first election and two decades before he would run for governor of Virginia, Robert F. McDonnell submitted a master’s thesis to the evangelical school he was attending in Virginia Beach in which he described working women and feminists as “detrimental” to the family. He said government policy should favor married couples over “cohabitators, homosexuals or fornicators.” He described as “illogical” a 1972 Supreme Court decision legalizing the use of contraception by unmarried couples.
The thesis wasn’t so much a case against government as a blueprint to change what he saw as a liberal model into one that actively promoted conservative, faith-based principles through tax policy, the public schools, welfare reform and other avenues.
“Further expenditures would be used to subsidize a dynamic new trend of working women and feminists that is ultimately detrimental to the family by entrenching status-quo of nonparental primary nurture of children,” he wrote.
He went on to say feminism is among the “real enemies of the traditional family.”
Republican friends who support McDonnell’s campaign for governor acknowledge parting ways with some of his more conservative views. Former governor and U.S. senator George Allen said he doesn’t share McDonnell’s opposition to abortion in cases of rape or incest. “There should always be an exception,” he said.
Del. Robert G. Marshall (R-Prince William), who has shared most of McDonnell’s conservative positions over the years, said there is no question that the candidate is playing down his conservatism today. Marshall said McDonnell risks alienating two groups of voters: moderates who might view him as hiding his true beliefs and conservatives who might think that he is no longer conservative enough.
Just take a look at a rundown of the extremist positions McDonnell advocated:
He argued for covenant marriage, a legally distinct type of marriage intended to make it more difficult to obtain a divorce. He advocated character education programs in public schools to teach “traditional Judeo-Christian values” and other principles that he thought many youths were not learning in their homes. He called for less government encroachment on parental authority, for example, redefining child abuse to “exclude parental spanking.” He lamented the “purging of religious influence” from public schools. And he criticized federal tax credits for child care expenditures because they encouraged women to enter the workforce.
McDonnell’s defense is reasonable–he says that he wrote that thesis a long time ago and that the voters of Virginia should judge him on his record as a legislator and Attorney General.
During his 14 years in the General Assembly, McDonnell pursued at least 10 of the policy goals he laid out in that research paper, including abortion restrictions, covenant marriage, school vouchers and tax policies to favor his view of the traditional family. In 2001, he voted against a resolution in support of ending wage discrimination between men and women.
He also sponsored bills on four occasions to establish covenant marriage in Virginia. All four were unsuccessful. Under McDonnell’s proposals, couples choosing to enter covenant marriage would have been required to obtain premarital counseling and sign a declaration of intent acknowledging that marriage is a lifelong commitment. In addition, the time of separation necessary for couples with children to obtain a no-fault divorce would have been extended from one to two years.
Do the citizens of Virginia–of which I am one–want to trust our state to someone with McDonnell’s extremist views? There’s nothing wrong with being strongly socially conservative in your personal life, but McDonnell has spent decades trying to twist VA to fit his radical view of the world.