PHOTO: Stuart statue

A new bill lets localities in Virginia remove, but not destroy, monuments within their borders.

LONG ago, Otto von Bismarck said that politics “is the art of the possible, the attainable—the art of the next best.”

This is something Republican state Sen. Bryce Reeves understands, even if others in the General Assembly don’t, in this take-no-prisoners age of American political life.

Reeves recently voted for a bill to allow localities to decide the fate of monuments within their boundaries, a bill aimed especially at those edifices related to the Confederacy.

Not surprisingly, Reeves opposed the bill, but he saw that it was going to pass anyhow, so he lent his support in exchange for an amendment that prevents localities from destroying those monuments.

The bill states that cities and counties “may remove, relocate, contextualize or cover any such monument or memorial on the locality’s public property, not including a monument or memorial located in a publicly owned cemetery.”

Reeves was one of two Republicans on a six-member conference committee created to settle differences between Senate and House of Delegates versions of the bill. Being able to count, Reeves got what he could out of the deal.

His reward was to be excoriated by the Senate’s pistol-packin’ momma and 2023 gubernatorial hopeful, Sen. Amanda Chase. She fired away on Facebook, claiming that Reeves was in favor of erasing history.

Whatever one’s thoughts on de-glamorizing leaders of the Southern rebellion, this bill puts the decision in the hands of the residents who see these monuments every day, and it doesn’t allow anyone to legally put a sledge hammer to them. One person’s erased history is another’s corrected history.

Reeves had some choice comments in replying to Chase, also posted on Facebook:

“Unlike some here in the Senate who serve their own personal interests and not those interests of the citizens they represent, I am not here to take cheap shots from the sidelines in order to run a campaign for higher office.”

Well said. Grandstanding and taking a course some voters consider to the right of reason have not been kind to Virginia Republicans of late. They’ve managed to lose all the state-wide elected offices and the majority in the state legislature. Sen. Chase’s comments seem in line with the kind of rhetoric that has brought them to this lowly station.

We commend Sen. Reeves for his pragmatism. A willingness to work across the aisle for the best deal possible is rarely seen in politics these days. We yearn for its return.

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