Rather than preach to the choir, I wrote this piece hoping to reach the voters in the "reddest" areas of Virginia. The commentary appears in today's edition of The Roanoke Times.
What have Republicans done for you?
You know in your heart that homosexuality is unnatural, an abomination. You are foursquare against abortion and there's no doubt in your mind that Muslims are a foreign threat -- and it goes without saying that the United States is a Christian nation.
These are your most cherished values. What could be more natural than to vote for people who share your values? Someone you feel comfortable with. Someone like you.
This is a basic human instinct. We gravitate toward our own kind.
People who look like you, sound like you and think like you have been in charge of this country for nearly eight years now. As Dr. Phil would say, "How's that workin' out for you?"
Do you have more money in the bank than you did in 2000? Is your job more secure? Is your medical care any easier to handle?
If you answered "no" to any of those questions, you may want to rethink the way you choose your leaders. Ask yourself what your congressman and your president have done to make your life better.
Do you feel safer than you did in 2000? I sure don't. And I have not seen a shred of evidence that Virgil Goode or Bob Goodlatte or George Bush have done a single thing -- made a law or put a policy in place -- to improve my life one iota.
Instead, I feel like my pocket has been picked. I feel like my own patriotism was used against me when they tricked me into supporting a war against Iraq -- a country that had, it turns out, not a thing to do with the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. And now, my tax dollars are stuffing the pockets of war profiteers like Halliburton and Blackwater. (And don't forget the high-rollers on Wall Street who are resting in a cushy safety net -- on our dime.)
Meanwhile, Virginia manufacturers have closed up shop and fled to other countries, leaving tons of Virginians high and dry. Why are there no effective trade policies or tax incentives in place to bring jobs back to Virginia? We've been without leadership for so long, we've forgotten what it looks like.
The fact that Goode and Goodlatte and Bush share their heartfelt values must be cold comfort for the legions of hard-working Virginians who are now either without a job or are under-employed. And the loss of Virginian lives in the ill-conceived Iraq war is too painful to think about.
Ask yourself: Are you better off now than you were before the Republicans took the wheel?
This Nov. 4, I'll pick my leaders by finding out which ones will make my life better. The candidates who advocate for ordinary, middle-class people, the ones who will keep us out of wars, help me get decent medical care for a fair price and allow my bank account to fill up again.
Will they be the candidates who also share my bedrock values? To tell you the truth, I really don't care.
Jaquith is a columnist for Charlottesville's newsweekly, The Hook. She has also been a frequent radio commentator for WVTF and for PRI's "Marketplace," and has appeared on NPR's "Day to Day."