Thursday, February 05, 2015

Tommy's Choice


In Tommy Norment's world, someone has to lose.

Tuesday, February 3, 2015 seemed like a good day for the cause of women's equality in Virginia. Early in the afternoon of that day, Virginia's state senate voted 21 to 17 to adopt the Equal Rights Amendment, which guarantees to women equal treatment under the laws of the United States. Supporters of the Equal Rights Amendment rejoiced, and left the senate gallery.

Moments later, Republican Majority Leader Tommy Norment moved to rescind the positive vote for the ERA in order to "retaliate" for a positive vote that defended the right of unions to have secret ballots.
After reconsidering the votes were reconsidered, the measures were passed by for the day, which is legislative speak for heading into limbo.

Asked after Tuesday's session whether that was in retribution, Senate Majority Leader Thomas K. "Tommy" Norment replied "absolutely."

"I prefer to refer to it as a quid pro quo," said Norment, R-James City.
In Tommy Norment's world there is no right or wrong--there are only petty injustices to be traded away. In Tommy Norment's world there is no concept of fairness. In Tommy Norment's world there is no room for women to be treated as equal citizens and working class Virginians to be treated as equal citizens. In Tommy Norment's Virginia, someone has to lose, someone has to be a second- or third class citizen. Here we sit in the 21st century, and we are asked who we will sacrifice.

In 1979, William Styron published his novel "Sophie's Choice," which tells the story of a woman forced to choose between two unbearable options. No doubt Tommy Norment thinks himself very clever to force Democrats in the Virginia Senate to choose between who they must sacrifice. In Tommy Norment's world there is neither fairness or justice. Choices must be made.

Tommy Norment has positioned himself on the ramp and he asks us who we will sacrifice: women or the working class. Norment points to the left and right and tells us to make a choice. I say "neither." I say Tommy Norment ought to be embarrassed for ever raising the question.