I may have mentioned, a time or 10, that it's become increasingly difficult to be a West Virginia Democrat since President Obama became the party's nominee, and moreso still since his election. Twice. (A neighbor installed a tombstone in front of his house that read RIP USA on the occasion of President Obama's second victory. He took it down after the second inauguration, but his Tea Party flag went up.)
West Virginia Democrats apparently dislike my President so much that they would rather stay home than go to the polls. We were the only state where fewer than half the registered voters showed up to vote in 2012.
And we're poised to repeat that sad statistic this year, in an election that could have long-lasting ramifications for Mountain State citizens.
West Virginia will, for the first time, send a woman to the U.S. Senate this year. We're moving right along with that gender equity thing, aren't we? But it's kind of hard to tell the Democratic candidate from the Republican at this stage.
What do you think of when you hear "West Virginia?" I'd really like to know. Leave a comment, if you like. Neither of you are from here, and it's a question I don't think I've ever asked.
When I lived in Ohio, I thought West Virginia was filled with hillbilly shacks and coal mines. It didn't take long after my move here to learn there's much, much more to this state than Appalachia. Granted, mountain culture and bluegrass music are important identifiers, but we have tremendous potential for outdoor adventure, tourism and agriculture, among others.
Both Senate candidates are campaigning for coal, which is an important part of our economy. But it's not as important as it once was. And it didn't stop our Democratic Senate candidate from spending her first commercial ad buy flipping a switch to turn the lights off at the White House – the White House! – just to show them whose coal keeps that electricity burning.
I want to apologize to my President for her lack of manners. Democrats don't attack Democrats. Or at least they shouldn't. It's okay in a primary to point out why your ideas are better than your opponents', but once you're the nominee you attack your opponent.
Or, better yet, you stay above the fray and show how you and your policies will make your state a better place to live. There's nothing to be gained by out-Republicaning the Republican. Can't be done. We can do much better. There's no need to pit Democrats against Democrats, but that's what's happening. Those of us who are left of the salad fork are shaking our heads at how our Democratic candidates aren't representing us.
I don't have a problem when you stand up for miners and railroad workers (I'm pretty sure our trains pull more coal cars than semi trailer boxes), but how about promoting unions and safety and alternative energy and job training? Why not show ways to rebuild a crumbling infrastructure, keep kids in school, prevent teen pregnancies, improve our West Virginia way of life?
Our Democratic candidate has a lot to run on. Attacking the President? I don't know, it just seems rude and small to me. Isn't that what the Republicans are doing?
In the end, what I've been hearing is voters will either hold their noses and vote for the Democrat or they're planning to stay home. Again.
Staying home is a win for Republicans, not just at the Senate level but all the way down the ticket.
Instead of sitting this one out, I propose that you, if you're unhappy with the current state of the campaign, write/email/call/message/tell her in person that you expect better. You expect different. You expect … Democrat.