Welcome!

I am in my thirty-sixth year of service representing the 36th District in the Virginia House of Delegates. I am a retired teacher and school administrator, having been employed by the Fairfax County Public Schools for nearly 30 years. Serving as your delegate is now my full-time focus.

This website is intended to assist us in communicating with each other. I hope that you will subscribe to my electronic newsletter, Virginia e-News, that is emailed every Wednesday. Each week I share my thoughts on a pressing issue or human interest item in the form of a commentary. Read this week’s commentary below. In the newsletter you’ll also find a bulletin board of local information and a calendar of events happening in our community.

Please let me hear from you on your needs and interests. I am honored to represent you and here to serve you as effectively as I can.

Ken Plum.

Delegate Ken Plum’s Commentary

Shades of the Old South

October 18, 2017

Photo of Governor Terry McAuliffe and Delegate Ken Plum

Governor McAuliffe has achieved remarkable success in establishing a new economy for Virginia.

Just when you think things are changing you can be shocked to realize just how much they stay the same. Politics in Virginia are a prime example. For more than a century after the Civil War the consistent factor in politics was race baiting. The then-called Democrats in the South who later became known as Dixiecrats and today are the conservative wing of the Republican Party were successful with a variety of laws that disenfranchised African Americans. Even with the few African Americans who could get through the labyrinth of laws that included blank sheet registration forms, literacy tests and poll taxes the scare tactic employed by too many candidates was to suggest that their opponent was a lover of black people–but using a derogatory term. That fear of black people has its roots back to the centuries where black people were enslaved and brutal enforcement and fear were used to keep them that way. The Civil War did not resolve the feeling between blacks and whites, and slave codes were replaced with Jim Crow laws that whites could use to assert supremacy over black people. For a candidate to take a position that could be interpreted as being favorable to African Americans would mean almost certain defeat at the polls. Only Supreme Court decisions and federal laws like the Civil Rights Act and the Voting Rights Act created a more level political playing field between the races. Continued efforts to suppress the votes of minorities and to unnecessarily complicate the voting process are still employed by some trying to maintain a structured society of white supremacy. More recently those who want to keep or expand their political power have swept immigrants–whatever their status–into the realm of those who are to be feared and suppressed from participating in the democratic process.

Many strive to gain maximum political advantage through whatever means while at the same time wanting to keep the appearance of respect and patriotism. The recent television ad with scary images and references to fear and the MS-13 gang intends to scare voters into rejecting a compassionate medical doctor with an ad that fact checkers have found to be untruthful.

Another concern from the current campaign is the suggestion from a white female candidate for lieutenant governor that her black male opponent does not understand the issues well enough to discuss them “intelligently.” Disregarding the excellent academic credentials of her opponent, her comments had the tone of the past that one observer said seemed more appropriate for 1957 than 2017.

At the national level, there are daily statements and actions that hearken back to the racial climate of the Old South. This year In Virginia, we have a unique opportunity on November 7 to make a statement with our votes that we reject the discrimination of the past. It is always important to vote, but it is more important than ever this year. Despite efforts to romanticize the Old South and the Confederacy, we need to learn the truth and understand why we need to move on.


Previous commentaries are available here.