Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli (AP FILE)
It’s 1984 and an African American man is on a simple journey to pick up groceries for his mother---a simple act of love. His simple journey quickly turns bad, and ends up becoming an enduring suffering. The man is wrongly identified and convicted as the perpetrator of three sexual assaults in the Richmond area. He spends the next 27 years in prison for a crime he didn’t commit, while the guilty perpetrator remained free. He served his time with a grace few of us could muster, confident that one day the truth would emerge, and that justice would be served.
The man’s name is Thomas Haynesworth. And the man that cared about him enough to fight for his release – and for justice to be served - was Ken Cuccinelli, Republican Attorney General of Virginia and Gubernatorial candidate.
In 2009 DNA testing produced evidence that Thomas was free of any wrongdoing. Cuccinelli led his office in carefully reviewing the DNA analysis and the cases against Haynesworth, concluding “a miscarriage of justice had occurred”. Ken reached out to Thomas’ legal team and encouraged them to apply for writs of actual innocence and he supported the application through its successful release of the innocent man who was guilty of nothing more than caring for his mom.
Have you heard about this side of Ken Cuccinelli?
Sadly but not surprisingly, few have. You are more likely to have heard about a Cuccinelli figure that “only wants to focus on his extreme social agenda” that harms women, as a recent email from his Democrat opponent Terry McAuliffe stated.
You probably won’t hear this story from Terry McAuliffe or the press that will be doing his bidding. Rewind almost 25 years to the days when Ken Cuccinelli was attending his alma mater, the University of Virginia (and mine too). Ken, a complete unknown to the public, no cameras present, was laboring past midnight on a summer evening in his group house when out from the silence he heard the loudest of screams in an adjacent bedroom in the house----the scream of a woman forcing off an intruder climbing onto her bed. Ken wasn’t indifferent to the situation. He didn’t just do what most of us would do, and console her at that moment of need, and then move on with his life. No. Ken was determined to do more. And so he made it his mission---out of loving care for her and the dozens of victims like her---to fight to prevent sexual assault at UVA.
Ken established the student group “Sexual Assault Facts and Education” (SAFE) to raise awareness about sexual assault and designed a brochure on preventing it. A little less than two years later he would be leading dozens of student protestors in occupying the steps of the University’s historic Rotunda designed by Thomas Jefferson for a whole 134 straight hours—an hour for each of the 134 alleged victims of sexual assault at Mr. Jefferson’s University the prior year---to demand that the Administration hire a full-time sexual assault education coordinator. And they did.
Will you hear that story?
Sadly, you will hear only about Ken Cuccinelli’s “extreme social agenda.”
One could tell stories, true stories, all day long about what’s really extreme about Ken---his extreme care---but why doesn’t the public already know these stories?
Republicans have been bashful in talking about and showing their care for the public. Little was more frustrating than having one of the most personally caring candidates in recent history in Mitt Romney, yet with little mention made of that aspect of his personality and life. When America finally heard the powerful testimonials from individuals about his care for them at the Republican National Convention in August, it was too little, too late.
When Republicans don’t show their care, the care debate doesn’t just stop, the political left and their willing allies in the mainstream media soldier on in painting a picture for the public that Republicans do not care about them and even want to harm them. And if the public buys the Democrat’s picture, as was the case with Romney and many others, the election is over.
For as Jack Kemp famously said, “They don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.” Think about this in terms of our own daily lives, do we truly listen to those that we believe don’t care about us?
Caring is the gateway to speaking with voters; if they don’t think you care, why do we think they’ll vote for you?
To start winning again, Republicans have to stop being bashful and show the public how they and their policies care for people. Republicans as a whole are a far more caring than Democrats, giving far more to charity, volunteering far more, and have more stories of caring leaders. It’s time they let the public know about this care, because the public is yearning to be led by caring men and women.
They could start with Ken Cuccinelli and his extreme care.