Virginia Democratic Party Chair Susan Swecker Pt. 2
The Democratic Party of Virginia is chaired by Highland native Susan Swecker, and she gave us her thoughts on what makes this presidential election unique.
“Well, the first thing I’d say – it’s historic. I see a lot of young women and mothers and fathers with young girls, and they want to take their young daughters to the rallies. Because, look, regardless of what political party you are, or if you are one, this is the first time we’ve had a woman be at the top of the ticket. So, to me, historic, pride in that she is qualified, but she’s also a woman. I have immense pride in that, as I see a lot of other people do.
“But, then it is the volatility. I think we have become a country that is so divided in right or wrong, red and blue, left wing/right wing, and that we don’t want to meet in the middle, and we don’t compromise, and that’s bad for everybody. That is bad for us as a nation, it’s bad for us as a world. I’m of the philosophy of former President Bill Clinton, who was like “Politics is about addition, not subtraction. I think we need to be bringing our country together – what do we agree on, as opposed to putting up barriers, excluding people, and I think that has contributed to the tone we see, and how we deal with each other. You see it, I know, on Facebook – I see the Twitter wars, and those are not healthy.
“So I think historic, but also the most important election of my lifetime, because we live in a dangerous world – we can all agree on that. So who do you want to be making decisions? Who should be your Commander-In-Chief, who do you want dealing with world leaders, who do you want setting your economy straight – those are big brush questions, that I think in your heart and in your head you want to think about. And then you also want to think about, as a parent or a grandparent, how do I want my children to talk to others.
“I always think about the leaders and the people that I have had the honor to work for, or know – and that includes Democrats, Republicans and Independents, where we have always been able to have meaningful dialogue, and reach compromise, reach consensus. And that’s what’s missing, that’s what’s dangerous when we are so divided and so stuck to our positions, that we can’t see the other person’s side.”
Virginia has historically been considered a “red” state for presidential politics, but has recently become more of a contested battleground. She spoke about the electorate changes driving this.
“I think some of it is demographics, and the growing, the changing in the population, the urban crescent growth from Northern Virginia, Richmond down to Hampton Roads; the growing Latino community; the growing Asian community; younger voters who do not care who you love – they don’t have that rigid position on who somebody marries or who somebody loves, and they are more open; younger voters also who aren’t wedded to party, as generations before us have been.
“And then, you know, quite frankly, out here in our part of the state that used to be more Democratic has turned more Republican over the years, but there are less people – they’re also losing a population.
“I would add onto that, you look at our statewide elected officeholders, we have five statewide Democratic officials – two U.S. Senators, and Governor, Lieutenant Governor and Attorney General. On the other hand, the Republicans have a supermajority in the House of Delegates, and a very tiny majority in a state Senate. And it’s a good thing that we are competitive, that we are a battleground, because once one state is so red or one state is so blue, the other side doesn’t play. So when everybody’s playing for your vote, you have to work really hard to get your message out and tell voters why they should be for you.
“So I’m happy we are where we are.”