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We'll get what we voted for

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By John Barnhart

Last week I read that students in Venezuela are carrying out campus protests against Hugo Chvez' effort to change the country's constitution.

Term limits in that constitution prevent Chvez from running for reelection in 2012. He has scheduled a referendum for next month that would lift these. Chvez has done a tremendous job destroying Venezuelan democracy over the past eight years. This year he yanked the operating license of a TV network called RCTV, virtually eliminating media opposition to his regime. Remaining privately owned broadcasters toe the government line. The term limits appear to be just about the last remaining vestige of democracy there.

Chvez was elected in a democratic election in 1998 spouting rhetoric of how he was for the poor and downtrodden. Venezuelans got what they voted for, although they increasingly are waking up to the fact that they elected a dictator.

That came to mind as I ponder the "Democratic" Party's takeover of the Virginia Senate in the Nov. 6 election. Part of the victory was fallout from how badly the Republican Party, on a national level, managed to tarnish its image of being the party of small government, fiscal responsibility and traditional values. Another factor is that "Democrats" have done a good job of pulling the wool over people's eyes.

Although it's been decades since the "Democratic" Party has been the working man's party, there are still some voters who think these folks actually carried a lunch pail sometime in their lives. Those who believe this are old enough to remember Harry Truman, but many others buy the line that "Democrats" actually represent the interests of those of us who reside on the lower levels of the economic totem pole. In reality, they couldn't care less about low income people. They tend to think that raising regressive taxes, taxes that hit low income people hardest, is just fine. In Congress, "Democrats" even think that families with incomes of $83,000 per year need help buying health insurance for their children, funded by taxes on families that earn much less.

Most of the news media help foster the image the "Democrats" want to project. Although the "Democratic" Party can't dictate what any TV station broadcasts, or newspaper writes, liberals outnumber conservatives in the world of journalism. These guys tend to take it easy on "Democrats" reserving the bare knuckle treatment for Republicans.

Fortunately, democracy in Virginia is in no danger. Governor Tim Kaine is not a dictator wannabe. He's just a liberal "Democrat." And, while there are some Chavistas among the Virginia's "Democratic" state senators, they are in the minority.

What are Virginia voters going to get as a result of handing control of the Senate to "Democrats?"

The next General Assembly ought to be interesting. There is a good chance that there are enough left-wing extremists in this gang with enough seniority to turn the Senate into a three-ring circus. I understand that a senator from the Tidewater area named Yvonne Miller is likely to move into a position of influence.

I expect to see budget struggles to continue between the Senate and the House of Delegates. The "Democrats" in the Senate will be chomping at the bit to spend money and they'll need to dig deeper into our pockets to do this. I'm confident that the House of Delegates will put up a fight to stop it. At least, House Republicans had better not cave in on taxes if they expect to maintain control of the House after 2009 and avoid being exiled to electoral Siberia after the next census.

The "Democrats" will be in control of the Senate when it comes time for redistricting after the 2010 census. They would love to use this to do some gerrymandering at the Republicans' expense. This won't be possible if the Republicans maintain control of the House of Delegates. The next two years will determine whether Republicans will retain a position that will allow them to make sure redistricting is done fairly.