A lot of criticism is aimed at Richmond right now, for not passing a budget. Pick whom you want to blame: Democrats, Obama, Republicans, Obama, McAuliffe, Obama, Benghazi, or Obama. No matter whom you choose, someone will say are you are right (and someone else will say you are wrong). But, at least the legislature has the advantage of each side’s members being plainly labeled. At the level of a party committee, it’s not always so easy to know which side someone is on.
Therefore, last Tuesday’s Fairfax County Democratic Committee meeting was more confusing than a session of the Virginia General Assembly. FirewallNOVA wasn’t there in person, but reports from those on the scene have it that chair Sue Langley sought to hold debate on their budget, only to cut off debate before everyone wanting to speak had spoken. This left some members disgruntled by the possibility that a motion to close debate (which, btw, experts tell FirewallNOVA actually isn’t proper under Roberts Rules, but who really cares about that?) was decided prematurely. To make that point, or to hold things up, or to follow the rules (or some mixture thereof), at least one other member questioned the existence of a quorum (without which, pretty much all business is out of order). Well, if you have never been to an FCDC meeting, you may be surprised to know that merely establishing the presence of a quorum is a time-consuming, tedious operation (since Fairfax is huge, electorally speaking, and not everyone present is always a member). So, suggesting the absence of a quorum is not something you do lightly, nor do you get to do so without drawing a lot of attention to yourself. (The way FCDC has long handled this problem is to avoid conducting business at its county-wide meetings at all, deferring most business to its district meetings instead. But a county budget has to be passed at the county level, so there’s no way out of this one bit of business being done at a full meeting, annually.)
There’s been a lot of online bickering about it ever since, with all the signs of factionalism, grudges, resentment, and hidden agendas that have long characterized the dysfunctional Loudoun County Democratic Committee. But, in a county that is as swirlingly red and blue as Loudoun, that’s not hard to understand. In the People’s Republic of Fairfax, however, the assumption could be made that Democrats are waving a single banner, and all in perfect harmony. But, apparently not.
Langley has been a visible figure in Fairfax Dem politics for a long time. She’s well liked and not a wall-flower. But this is her first time at the FCDC helm. In a year when the long-awaited retirement of Frank Wolf makes capturing a Republican seat and turning it blue in the House of Representatives a real possibility, she’s going to need to find the path to unity and find it fast. Richmond can fight over a budget and, eventually, one side or other wins (the people all lose, but a party “wins”). Fighting over a budget when your party is trying to elect its candidates, however, is a lose-lose for your party. Langley had better learn how to rally her troops around the Democratic flag, or it may end up lose-lose-lose, with that last loser being their congressional nominee, John Foust.