Order made in America

Published 9:41 am Tuesday, June 5, 2018

The race for Virginia’s 5th Congressional District seat may seem a bit chaotic right now, but there is an order that underlies it for which we, as Americans, can be tremendously grateful.

Things seemed to be shaping up for an electoral showdown between Republican incumbent Tom Garrett and Leslie Cockburn, the Democrat challenger.

Then, on May 23, Garrett publicly said, “I don’t know if I want to do this anymore.” On May 24, he said that he had taken time to think and pray a lot and would, in fact, be running for re-election. Other stories were being published citing rancor and dysfunction in Garrett’s office.

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Then, on Memorial Day, Garrett announced that he would not run for re-election this year and is seeking treatment for alcoholism.

All of these developments, one following quickly after the other, does make things seems fairly chaotic, but the sky is not falling.

In his statement announcing that he would not seek re-election, Garrett settled into a place that highlighted truth and selflessness. He said alcoholism had been the issue he had not been completely honest about.

“Sometimes winning means knowing where your priorities should be,” he said. “My devotion to the ideals and the belief of America has not wavered, but my commitment to being the best husband, father and friend means addressing the only truth that I have been heretofore unwilling to tell.”

America has been defined, in part, by its longstanding emphasis on the importance of family. Sometimes we need to go through trying circumstances to help us get our priorities straight, and this emphasis of the nation helped steer Garrett to where he needs to go.

Meanwhile, the structure of American government ensures that this transition in representation will go smoothly and peacefully. Republicans have chosen Denver Riggleman to run in Garrett’s place; Cockburn becomes acquainted with her new opponent.

And American civility facilitates the entire process, with contributions from both candidates. We can genuinely look back in gratitude at highly positive things Garrett has accomplished, including putting a spotlight on the character and cause of Barbara Rose Johns.

And rather than kick a man when he’s down, Cockburn’s message to her supporters in light of Garrett’s final decision was as follows: “This is a difficult time for him, his family and his staff. It is important that he has chosen to concentrate on his family and recovery. I wish him and his family well.”