By Daniel P. Cortez
Jessica Hatchley of Fredricksburg proudly became a citizen last week during 4th of July ceremonies at Mt. Vernon. And as one the nation’s newest voters she can’t wait to vote for the next president during the Virginia primary scheduled for next March.
That was the contentious issue recently in Staunton, where the tea party wing of Virginia’s Republican Party attempted to force a convention and discriminate against their family. That’s what it would have been.
Originally from Kaiserslautern, Germany, she met her Marine husband Robert, now stationed at Quantico, online. They married and have a 13-month-old son, Robert Hatchley III. They consider themselves independent voters.
As nonparty members they would have been excluded from voting for their candidate for president at a republican convention. Not because he is in the military, but because only party members would be allowed to vote. As a fellow independent voter who may lean conservative, I call that intense discrimination promoting exclusion.
Fortunately, a primary was recently chosen by 42-39 vote in Staunton by republican members of the state central committee. Eric Herr, chairman of the First Congressional District Committee, and Steve Albertson, chairman of Stafford’s Republican Committee, both spoke in support of a convention.
With respect to the sound principles of the tea party movement these men support and the arm twisting by movement strongman Russ Moulton of Spotsylvania, the convention concept died a judicious death.
Mike Thomas, first vice chairman of the Virginia Republican Party who quietly and methodically reasoned with calmer heads over the need for more inclusion, is one of the unsung heroes of the vote.
And now they have proof in the future involvement of the Hatchley family, two independent voters who desire to study the issues and vote their own conscience. There are millions more like them.
I agree with the Hatchleys who say, “Everyone should be allowed to vote.” Both stated their distrust of modern media and the political with the constant conjecture and negativity.
“Being from another country it is hard to know if a station is putting a spin on things,” said Jessica.
And she is correct at the hilarious conjecture of any issue once the channel is changed and the same topic discussed by clearly opposing party sympathizers … even Fox News. Both do plenty of research on candidates and issues. Be great if all were like them.
It was invigorating to observe Jessica Hatchley became a U.S. citizen, and along with the other 99 new citizens who were congratulated by John Brennan, Director of the CIA, who delivered keynote remarks. Her Marine Captain husband beamed with pride as their son held a small American flag.
I admit to being more than a little jaded over the present state of American politics, but seeing this family moved me. All is not lost in spite of the doomsayers on both sides of the aisle. Families like the Hatchleys will keep us on the straight and narrow.
And I had to ask them both about the much debated issue of our undocumented serving in the military. Without hesitation I heard “yes.”
“If you are willing to put your life on the line you should be allowed to be a citizen,” responded the 15-year Marine veteran who added, “As long as the military’s stringent military qualification are met … and tightened.”
Correct again, Hatchley, and congratulation Jessica. America is greater with you as a citizen and voter.
Daniel Cortez, a distinguished Vietnam veteran and award winning writer/broadcaster, is active in veterans and political affairs with an independent voter perspective. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Photos by Daniel Cortez