Izraelevitz: True Virtue vs Virtue Signaling

Los Alamos County Councilor

With all due respect to my fellow councilor, I was extremely disappointed by David Reagor’s recent letter of endorsement of his fellow Republican candidates for Council. It is fine to highlight the qualities of candidates he endorses, but his letter distorted both the recommendations of the Los Alamos Resiliency, Energy, And Sustainability (LARES) Task Force, as well as the position of the Democratic candidates toward a more environmentally responsible future for Los Alamos. In my conversations with Theresa Cull, Melanee Hand, Suzie Havemann and Randall Ryti, I have found them all to be thoughtful and realistic about this and other topics, informed by both their extensive experience in our community and an interest in diving deep into the context of the many difficult decision points facing our County, whether it is developing housing, promoting healthier business conditions, or leading a path toward sustainability. I have served with both Melanee and Randall on the County Council, and have met with Suzie and Theresa multiple times for substantive conversations; all four bring a work ethic, intelligence, and openness to ideas that are invaluable to the position.

The LARES task force final report is balanced and honest in highlighting the short-term and long-term tasks ahead. There is no talk of wholesale replacement of our energy profile. Instead, it presents a non-partisan, careful analysis of both opportunities and challenges, in contrast with the fear-mongering displayed in Councilor Reagor’s letter. Many of these steps have already been reflected in our most recent County budget, one that was approved with only Councilor Reagor in opposition.

Most objectionable to me is the allusion to “useless virtue signaling.” If the fact that as a small community, Los Alamos has a “useless” role in environmental stewardship, I wonder whether the argument would hold for trash recycling, preservation of our open spaces, or other policies where individually we have a marginal effect but have a major impact as part of a responsible society.

Finally, ‘virtue signaling’ is an epithet slung to indicate a hypocritical display of support for a socially acceptable concept.  Presumably, the Republican candidates for Council would be willing to recite the Pledge of Allegiance should they be elected, even if their support for the Republic for which our flag stands is doubtful, given a reluctance to accept legally conducted elections that don’t conclude to their liking. THAT is virtue signaling.

Please vote for Theresa Cull, Melanee Hand, Suzie Havemann, and Randall Ryti for Council.