Last night, Delegate Sam Rasoul (D-Roanoke) spoke at the April gathering of the Rocktown Libertarians in Harrisonburg. He has represented the 11th district in the House of Delegates since winning a special election in January of 2014. Mr. Rasoul is the second member of the House of Delegates to visit with the group this year as Nick Freitas (R-Culpeper) attended the previous month.
Although the attendance last night was higher than meeting in the early party of 2017, it was a little lower than the previous month. Several folks who had RSVPed didn’t end up making it. In terms of partisanship, the group was fairly diverse. Not only were there Libertarians at the table but there was also a contingent of Republicans and a Democrat or two.
After speaking about a number of issues of importance to him, Delegate Rasoul fielded a bunch of questions from the audience. During this time he mentioned that sometimes he works with Republican legislators, such as Delegate Ben Cline, on issues related to protecting liberty in the Commonwealth. The audience asked him about a variety of topics including criminal justice reform, political freedom and ballot access, drug policy, hemp, and, given that he is the only Muslim legislator in the General Assembly, about his faith and Sharia Law. One particularly interesting tidbit was unlike most legislators, Delegate Rasoul was sworn in with his hand on a copy of both the Virginia and the United States Constitution. As he explained, those were the documents he pledged to uphold.
Although I’ve written some critical pieces about Delegate Sam Rasoul before he was elected, since that time I have appreciated a number of the bills he has sponsored and votes he has taken in the last several sessions of the General Assembly. Do we agree on everything? Of course not. And were there areas of disagreement with him in the audience last night? Absolutely…but there were also differences of opinions between the regular attendees too.
Some people may be more liberal while others are more conservative, but it is my hope that through dialogue, including with those in other political parties, we can begin to counteract some of this nasty partisan fighting that was especially prevalent during the 2016 elections and find areas where we can work together to promote the cause of liberty. As Delegate Rasoul indicated, he shared this desire.
Let me close by saying many thanks to Delegate Sam Rasoul for coming to Harrisonburg to speak to the Rocktown Libertarians last night. Next month, Delegate Ben Cline (R-Rockbridge) will be in attendance.