Outgoing Chair of the House Judiciary Committee, Bob Goodlatte is my Congressman. I even know him, having had civil almost friendly relations. He has been in office for 26 years. But his career exemplifies the degeneration of the Republican Party from a Lincoln-derived progressive force in US politics to the racist and reactionary disaster that it has become with Donald Trump as president. The quick story on this is that he was once an aide to a predecessor, M. Caldwell Butler, a "Mountain Valley Republican" who voted to impeach Richard Nixon as a member of the House Judiciary Committee back in 1974, the committee that Goodlatte has come to chair. In contrast to his former boss, Goodlatte, who entered office as a supposed "moderate," if not a full-blown Lincoln-derived Mountain Valley Republican, he has suppressed investigations of Trump and done much worse.
While he has supported a long list of corporate special interests, probably the ultimate sign of how low he and his party have fallen is his final act as Judiciary Committee Chair, reported in today's Washington Post. He single handedly blocked a bill that was unanimously passed by the Senate to protect Native American women from violent attacks. His reason fo this was totally aobscure and ridiculous, a trivial concern that the bill favored certain agencies over others in making complaints about such violence. The bill was originated by outgoing Dem Sen. Heidi Heitkamp of ND, but apparently it will be reintroduced by Lisa Murkowski of AK next year, and hopefully it will pass. Indeed, I really do not know why Goodlatte is going out on this. What makes this all the more appalling is that our Congressional district contains the largest Native Indian tribe in Virginia, the Monocans, who have had a long history of being ignored and discriminated against.
For those who do not know the fuller history here, the Shenandoah Valley has long been the base of the Republican Party in Virginia, with few slaves held west of the Blue Ridge. So this really does date back to Abraham Lincoln and the anti-slavery progressive Republican Party, with their descendants becoming these now nearly extinct "Mountain Valley Republicans" who were known for being reasonably liberal. There are still a handful of these folks in the state legislature, even as the Valley has largely gone hardline conservstive. The journey of Goodlatte folows this, going from the "moderation" of his former boss, Caldwell, and even his early years in the House, to his shameful final performance, leading silly hearings that had James Comey testifying in secret overt his objection, and then this final insult, this blocking of helping out vicitmized Native American women, almost a caricature of the Trumpist Republican Party.
Abraham Lincoln, whose father was born in Goodlatte's district a few miles north of where I live, would be utterly ashamed of this conduct.