In the 6th District of Virginia, we don’t much like government rules and regulations, especially when they don’t pass a common sense test. The Constitution speaks of our God-given rights to be secure in our persons, property and papers – to live free. This part of Virginia lives and breathes this valued sense of who we are – citizens always, and subjects to a distant capitol, never.
We tend not to trust politicians. We tend to understand that the longer these politicians are in office collecting benefits, creating legislative networks, and accumulating personal power, the more we, as Virginians, will suffer.
My recent visit to Highland and Bath Counties dished out plenty of evidence about how Virginians – real Virginians – think and live. They think independently, and they strive to live free.
While in Highland, I ate local trout and maple pecan pie. In Bath, I spoke to trout fishermen and gave some of the best bait they were using a smell test. I saw lots of sheep and lumber mills, and observed maple syrup being boiled down in antique boilers, in the old ways.
The world famous Maple Festival in Highland is about an older way that works. And in many ways, this region is about old ideas that have stood the test of time.
The people I met in Bath and Highland Counties this past weekend are not the same people I met at Hot Springs at the Republican Advance in early December. Those politicians visiting the high country, with few exceptions, constitute the political elite in Virginia. Many of these Republicans were more interested in each other and the power to be gleaned from those relationships than they are in promoting the fundamental and limited role of government.
The Republican Party creed is a good one, especially for those of us living in the upper Shenandoah Valley and in the western mountains of the state. The creed embraces “fiscal responsibility and budgetary restraints” at “all levels of government.” It affirms that the “Federal Government must preserve individual liberty by observing Constitutional limitations.”
In other words, on paper, the Republican Party values the freedom to work, to produce, to think, and to speak. The message is that we have the freedom to take care of our own, and we deserve freedom from government idiocy.
This message is exactly what I heard again and again from veterans and from businessmen, from public servants and retired people in this part of the district. As a visitor, I was inspired by the geography, the natural beauty and natural resources of this lovely part of Virginia. As a Republican challenger standing up to the career politician who currently represents the 6th District, I was honored to talk about government and politics with people in this far western part of our district. As a constitutionalist, a veteran, as a farmer and a lover of liberty, I felt right at home in Highland and Bath Counties.
Karen Kwiatkowski, conservative Mount Jackson cattle farmer and veteran, is challenging Bob Goodlatte in the GOP Primary on June 12, 2012.