EDITOR’S NOTE: This article appears in the March 22, 2004, issue of National Review.
When it comes to political ineptitude, this year’s prize goes to the Republican party of Virginia. For 130 years–all the way back to Reconstruction–the GOP tried to seize control of the legislature from the old Boll Weevil Democrats. In 1999, the Republicans finally captured majorities in both the state house and senate–and the party leaders have now rewarded voters for their good sense by proposing the biggest tax increase in the state’s history. The $3 billion GOP-sponsored tax hike has ignited a civil war within the party and has stunned political observers not just inside the Old Dominion, but around the country.
Virginia’s debacle comes on the heels of a financially chaotic year for many other states–in which eight of the ten largest tax hikes nationwide were signed into law by Republican governors, including Bob Taft of Ohio, Kenny Guinn of Nevada, and Dirk Kempthorne of Idaho.
Will this turn into a full-fledged national trend, with Republicans tossing aside the anti-tax message that has been electoral paydirt for the party since Ronald Reagan’s election in 1980? The outcome of the debate in Richmond in the weeks ahead could go a long way toward answering this question.
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