Our View: Matter of emphasis

Posted: March 18, 2014

Suffice it to say, any conservative who ventured to Millbrook High on Saturday looking for a like-minded individual to vote for this November and then failed to find one, well, couldn’t have been looking too hard. There was a broad range of conservatism on display, in style as well as substance, as all six folks seeking the GOP nod to replace retiring 10th District Rep. Frank Wolf tried the conservative mantle on for size. Some wore it comfortably, others less so — even though there was, for the most part, consensus on the primary issues.

How’s that? Well, let’s just say that when businessman Mark Savitt, first to deliver an opening statement, presented five goals, he was not speaking only for himself, but truly — albeit unwittingly — for everyone on stage. And those goals? Repeal ObamaCare, reform the tax code, secure the border, uphold family values, and defend the Constitution from the current administration’s extra-legal onslaught.

All six addressed these issues; precisely how much, or to what extent, was purely a matter of emphasis. Longtime Capitol Hill aide Rob Wasinger, for example, homed in on spending and debt. Businessman and former federal official Stephen Hollingshead wants government to leave us alone and allow the private sector to do what it does best. And Howie Lind, the lone veteran on the ballot, returned repeatedly to the Benghazi fiasco, and to the arrant lack of accountability thereto.

The other two hopefuls — state Dels. Barbara Comstock of McLean and Bob Marshall of Manassas — were more likely to elevate political experience over philosophy, precisely because both can lay claim to the former. Mr. Savitt took a bit of the edge off that advocacy when he said the only way to fix Washington was “to stop sending the same kind of person” there.

The only issue presented that prompted a difference of opinion was term limits. Messrs. Savitt, Lind, and Wasinger favor limits on tenure while Mr. Hollingshead (surprisingly) and the two current elected officials (not surprisingly) said the people had the ultimate term-limiting mechanism — the vote.

Finally, as for the candidate who staked out the most unique swath of political turf, the award goes to Mr. Hollingshead, who spoke of “states’ powers” (rather than “rights”) and twice noted, accurately, that the nature of governance inexorably strayed from the Founders’ vision when the people, rather than state legislatures, began electing senators. Until then, states could realize goals and exercise “powers” via the senators their governing bodies elected.