Yes, Virginia, There is an Elephant in the Room

All eyes seemed to be on Virginia during the general election the other week. The media celebrated Democrat Ralph Northam’s upset over Republican Ed Gillespie in the gubernatorial race. Headlines about the defeat flooded news sites and social media as people rallied behind Northam and called his success proof of both a Democratic resurgence and the power of voter participation. The tide is finally turning for Democrats after the systematic shock of last year’s presidential election. At least that’s what the media and amateur political pundits (a.k.a. everyone on Twitter) would lead people to believe. As a Virginian, it was amusing to see Virginia in the spotlight and hear so many people’s opinions on the race. As a conservative, it was even more amusing to see their reactions, which ranged from reinvigorated Democrats to distressed Republicans. Although heralded as a monumental achievement, the win was hardly news to those familiar with Virginia politics. As explained in the The Washington Post, Virginia’s last “Republican U.S. senator was elected in 2002, last GOP governor in 2009 and last Republican presidential candidate in 2004. Virginia over the past few decades has transitioned from solid red to blue.” So yes, Virginia, there is an elephant in the room. In their excitement to declare a victory, Democrats overlooked the painfully obvious context of it: Virginia has been a blue state for years. A Democrat...

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Is renaming schools named after Confederates worth the cost?

Jill Teitelbaum, guest columnist What’s in a name? According to a growing number of people, some names can cause emotional distress warranting their removal. As such, there has been a recent push towards removing Confederate names and memorials across the country. The latest case involves a public school in Jackson, Mississippi. Davis International Baccalaureate Elementary School is set to be renamed Barack Obama Magnet International Baccalaureate Elementary School beginning in the 2018-2019 school year. The school is named after Jefferson Davis who was president of the Confederacy and a vocal supporter of slavery. According to the Civil War Trust, he was a slaveholder and operated his own cotton plantation in Mississippi. It’s understandable that people would be made uncomfortable by his memorialization by a school period, let alone one whose population is 98 percent black. Removing the names of Confederates is well-intentioned and replacing them with the names of progressive role models is laudable. However, the staggering costs associated with these changes requires a serious look at their feasibility, and more importantly, their opportunity cost. Although the exact cost of the Davis name change is unclear, the costs for similar initiatives across the country range from $100,000 to over $1 million. For many of the schools involved, the amounts proposed to rebrand them could be desperately used elsewhere. Mississippi is hardly an exception. According to the state Department of...

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Twitter warrior of the West Wing

Calm. Collected. Eloquent. These words may bring to mind many orators and leaders, but they certainly don’t bring to mind a certain fiery and impulsive one: President Donald J. Trump. Whether someone supports President Trump or not, most will agree that he’s not afraid to speak his mind. His unfiltered thoughts, most clearly displayed through his personal Twitter account, manage to excite and enrage hundreds of thousands of people simultaneously. Apart from revealing his hotheadedness, and that even presidents misspell words, there are two special, underappreciated aspects of this: Transparency and engagement. Trump’s mistakes and outbursts show authenticity. There...

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