One Day at the General Assembly

On Monday, February 13th, the day before cross-over, I took on a responsibility incumbent on every citizen of our representative Republic. I took a day off from running my small business to visit my representatives in the General Assembly, speak to them about my concerns and watch the legislative sausage being made in Richmond. I also felt it was my duty as a leader of our local Tea Party here in Fauquier County and a leader in the State Tea Party Federation to learn as much as I could about the workings of our state legislature.


The morning’s activities left me filled with optimism. I had joined with many other Tea Party members as we packed into a conference room to learn about the status of legislation we had targeted for scoring our representatives on. Several committees with over 100 volunteers across the state have spent hours reading, analyzing and selecting bills that addressed our fiscal and personal freedom principles amongst the 2400 bills presented this year. We have invested much of our time because we take seriously what direction our representatives are steering our great state.


After a lengthy and detailed status report, we were honored to be addressed separately by Governor McDonnell and Attorney General Cuccinelli, who both took time out of their busy schedule to share their thoughts and answer our questions. This turned out to be the high point of the day. The afternoon was a steep, downhill slide, one of the most disappointing and embarrassing 4 hours I have spent in recent memory.


As we sat in the gallery waiting for the afternoon meeting of the Senate Committee for Labor & Commerce we were able to watch the Senate General Session via live feed. SJ 3, a constitutional amendment written to insure the protection of property owners from heavy-handed treatment by local and state governments, public service corporations and railroads was being debated. I sat in amazement as Senator Watkins, a Republican who represents the Senate 10th District, rose to argue against the bill. He claimed this bill is not needed and that it is only up for a vote because of political fervor created by the Tea Party. I can only assume he agrees with the 2005 Kelo decision by the Supreme Court, a site where the homeowners were ripped from their properties and yet still has not been developed.


Senator Watkins claimed he is just “a country boy” and“I’m a God-fearing, God-believing Christian…If any of us think that we own the property, you better take a close look inside you,” he continued, “Because God and Mother Nature own everything.”I understand exactly what he means. I have read this same thing in The Preamble to UN Agenda 21. It claims in this United Nations document that no one can really own property; it should be shared by all. This is, of course, a basic premise of Communism. I also contest the fact that this 31 year Senate veteran is still a Country boy. He has long ago moved into the Ruling Class.


He continued his admonishment by wagging his finger at the other members present, warning them they would be sorry when the cost to develop land condemned by the state would cost too much for the business people he was speaking up for to develop. He even noted that, and I paraphrase, one of the favorite phrases of Tea Partiers, “Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness” does not contain anything about property. I must say, after hearing the good Senator’s logic, I was thoroughly ashamed to have any connection to his political party.


If we are to believe this rant, we must force ourselves to ignore the Virginia State Constitution and one of the true Patriots of Virginia. George Mason was one of our Founding Fathers and, along with James Madison, is known as the “Father of the Bill of Rights”. He was a Virginia Delegate to the Constitutional Convention and prior to the Convention, authored the Virginia Bill of Rights which was adapted in June of 1776 and is now in Article 1 of the Virginia State Constitution. In it Mason wrote “That all men…have certain inherent rights…namely, the enjoyment of life and liberty, with the means of acquiring and possessing property, and pursuing and obtaining happiness and safety.” There is so much so very wrong with Senator Watkins’ logic I would grow weary explaining it. I will, however, proffer this question to the Honorable Senator: Are you willing to see that the profits of the Watkins Center are given to God, the one you say really owns the land?


Senator Watkins then came to Senate Room B where we were sitting and, as chairman of this Committee, conducted a meeting that anyone observing would charitably have called a circus side-show.I sat incredulous as committee members were allowed to marginalize citizens that came before them to speak; snickering, leaving their chairs for no apparent reason, making faces at people in the gallery, carrying on side conversations that had some sort of punch line and making public jokes at the expense of those that came to speak, all while they were speaking!! I did note that the activist from the Sierra Club and a lobbyist from a business group, unlike the “ordinary” citizens that stood to speak to the committee, were treated with deference.


In summation, I would urge all that read this letter to take a day to travel to Richmond to witness what our representatives do with the responsibility over our lives they were given by us, the voters. At the very least, follow the bills and the votes of your representatives. It will assist you in deciding who you will support in upcoming elections. You see, elections do make a difference and I now certainly know some who I do and do not want representing me and my family. I am now more inspired to work very hard for those who support my beliefs and even more determined to see that those that do not are replaced. You see, that is what elections are all about.


Rick Buchanan

Fauquier County Tea Party Patriots

Event Chair – VTPP Federation