During his campaign for governor, Terry McAuliffe made it pretty clear that he had no intention of changing his style of leadership once elected. He famously told the Northern Virginia Technology Council that he isn't going to "read every bill" that makes it to his desk, and that he'd use his legendary fundraising skills to schmooze elected officials into voting his way. While all that makes for good Facebook and editorial fodder, there are very real consequences to how the governor-elect will chose to make decisions. Toward that end, as the notorious fundraiser for former President Bill Clinton and friend to current President Barack Obama, he has two leadership models from which to choose. Which one he follows will go a long way in determining what Virginia is going to look like in the coming years.
For example, Governor-elect McAuliffe has stated that one of his first acts of power will be to issue an executive order giving special protections to Virginians based on their sexual behavior. The questions is, will he follow the more "moderate" style of Clinton (and former Governor Tim Kaine) and issue the order within the law of Virginia, covering only those employed in state government? Or will he follow the model of our current president, ignore the law and constitution, and try to extend that special protection into the private sector?
His choice will have legal, moral and political consequences for years to come. There is no doubt that going beyond the limits of the law is nothing new for liberals, and groups like the ACLU, Equality Virginia and the media will no doubt celebrate such an action and argue that violating the law is worth it for the cause of advancing homosexuality. But our nation is seemingly coming apart at the seams, in part due to elected officials ignoring or violating the law and constitution in order to advance their cause. So-called "gridlock" has become an excuse for ignoring the separation of powers or bypassing a duly elected legislature. But the-end-justifies-the-means can have terrifying implications.
We'll have some indications within the first hours of the McAuliffe administration on which presidential style he plans to imitate. Will he believe himself bound by the law and work accordingly, or above the law to appease his ravenous base?