by Michael Mozelle
The new Representative elect from Virginia’s 10th Congressional District, Barbara Comstock, will have a difficult time living up to the legacy of sitting Representative Frank Wolf (R-Va.). As a 23-year veteran member of Congress, Wolf has been a rare model of bipartisan leadership and legislative effectiveness.
Congressman Wolf was first elected in 1980 during a wave of Republican victories under Ronald Reagan, after serving in the Army and working as an Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Interior from 1974-75. He faced few serious challenges to his seat during his time in Congress.
He has consistently used his position in Congress to advocate for human rights and religious freedom around the world, particularly in China, unlike many of his more hyper-partisan junior colleagues. Though he holds socially conservative stances on abortion and marriage equality, he falls within the ever shrinking middle ground of ideological moderates in Congress. Such a narrowing of ideological purity does little good for constituents, who may find themselves increasingly unrepresented by the platform of either major party.
According to Vanderbilt Prof. Alan Wiseman and Batten Prof. Craig Volden’s The Lawmakers, Congressman Wolf fell below average legislative effectiveness only once during his career in Congress and consistently ranked well above average between 1981 and 2012.GovTrack.us, a similar site that tracks voting records, placed Wolf in the top 5 percent of Republicans for bipartisan voting.
by Samir Salifou
The notion that equality of opportunity undergirds political and economic success lies at the core of American meritocracy. Hard work and determination, as opposed to family background, should allow individuals to ascend the socioeconomic ladder.
In 1965, when discussing race-based affirmative action, then-President Lyndon Johnson recognized this issue, sayingthe United States had an obligation to do more than undo inequitable laws. “You do not take a person who, for years, has been hobbled by chains and liberate him, bring him up to the starting line of a race and then say you are free to compete with all the others, and still just believe that you have been completely fair,” Johnson said.
Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 already bans sex-based discrimination, and the 19th Amendment gave women the right to vote, but those changes did not address structural concerns. In 2009, President Barack Obama signed into law the Lilly Ledbetter FairPay Act. The law restored preexisting law, which helped guarantee that individuals subject to pay discrimination have up to 180 days from their last discriminatory paycheck to file a civil suit against their former employer. But this bill failed to address underlying structural issues.