By: Dr. Darrin Cox of Wheeling, WV
As we all know, the New Year is a time of making resolutions to change for the better. A news article from November of last year has been circulating again recently that states West Virginians are the most overweight Americans who also watch the most television. Time to cue up a self-improvement montage of dieting and exercise, right? Not so fast. I’d like to suggest a different direction for improvement through a New Year’s resolution: political involvement.
The philosopher Plato once said, “The price of apathy towards public affairs is to be ruled by evil men.”
If you are like most voters, there is good reason to be apathetic towards the modern political machine here in WV. While some lack information about the issues, others who choose not to participate do so in large numbers because they either dislike the current crop of candidates or find the system itself to be corrupt. Just like shedding those pounds that make your middle look pudgy, you have to put down the remote and do something if you want change. This is where the Mountain Party can come to your aid in regaining a healthy, properly functioning political system. For more on how, check out our party platform for yourself.
More specifically, I’m asking you to take an active role in the Mountain Party’s continued development. This isn’t an argument for the need and viability of the Mountain Party in WV. That has amply been covered elsewhere. What I’m asking you to do is to take back your government, with your own two hands, from those who would seek to profit from your suffering. If you don’t like how corrupt the system is, help us change it. If there are issues you want to see addressed, but are being ignored or underrepresented, step up and represent them. If you don’t like the candidates on the ballot, the Mountain Party can help you put your name on the ballot. Don’t like the limelight? Then donate some of your TV time to helping ensure that your fellow workers are elected, instead of the same corporate shills who continually drain the vitality of WV and its people.
That there is apathy towards WV’s political system is in little doubt. According to the WV Secretary of State’s data, the only time in the past 12 years that voter participation crested 60% was in 2020, most likely due to Trump’s divisiveness. Removing that anomaly, on average only 50% of West Virginians participate in general elections. Primary election numbers are even worse, averaging less than 33% of registered voter participation.
While I won’t go so far as to call our “rulers” evil, at the very least we can call many of them self-serving and disinterested in the plight of normal, hardworking West Virginians like you. The poverty rate in WV has always been too high, averaging an unbelievable 18% of the population. Moreover, poverty rates are 3.7% higher in WV than in the rest of the country, ranking us at the 6th highest rate in the United States. The situation is even more dire for women and West Virginians of color. Keep in mind that these numbers were calculated before Covid killed over 5,000 of us, wreaked havoc on our economy, and endangered our children’s education.
On the other side of that coin, West Virginia’s major politicians are fattening themselves at the trough. Senators Shelley Moore Capito and Joe Manchin are worth over $2.5 million and $8.6 million or more respectively, up considerable amounts from previous years. Our House of Representatives are faring even better. David McKinley’s net worth is up to $10.4 million (a $6 million increase from 2019). Alex Mooney has $14.7 million, and Carol Miller has a whopping $75 million. But all of these pale in comparison to Jim Justice, Forbe’s magazine’s “Deadbeat Billionaire,” who made their billionaire’s list by selling off WV coal mines to Russians while notoriously dodging his taxes.
To be fair, Justice has recently fallen from his financial peak due to the downturn of coal in the global economy, and it is no crime to be rich while holding public office. However, the fabulously wealthy are so out of touch with the reality that you and I live in that it makes it nearly impossible to do their job well. For instance, the provisions of the Build Back Better plan were widely supported by West Virginians, regardless of political party. The report that Joe Manchin voted against it because he felt poor people would just spend that money on drugs and take paid sick leave to go hunting, demonstrates how little our elected officials understand the trials of regular folk. Nearly 1/5th of Manchin’s constituency suffer from extreme impoverishment, the po (so poor they can’t afford the last two letters), and this doesn’t even count those that are simply living paycheck to paycheck beneath the median income.
The Republican and Democratic parties don’t understand life in West Virginia anymore, if they ever did. There is a long track record of both Republicans and Democrats ignoring and even profiting off of the suffering of regular, hardworking West Virginians, passing laws to extract wealth for outsiders. Neither of them will do anything to change a system that has enriched and entrenched them for decades. They have no incentive to change it because it benefits them too much.
When Democrats lead, they give massive gifts to insurance companies when what we want is affordable health care. When Republicans lead, they give massive tax breaks to multibillion-dollar corporations that are already swimming in historic profit levels. This is not capitalism. It is neoliberalism and it is the largest transfer of wealth to the already wealthy that we have ever seen.
The rich get richer and the poor get poorer, but that doesn’t have to be the way it stays. The two party system is broken. Resolve to help the Mountain Party, a ballot qualified party in WV and affiliate with the national Green Party, take our country back. Be the change you want to see. I implore you: join the Mountain Party and resolve to make a difference in West Virginia. “We want a fair economy in West Virginia that truly protects life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. NOT a crooked economy built on environmental destruction, exploitation of the poor, and unchecked corporate welfare.” To make that happen, we need your help. Visit us at https://mountainpartywv.net/ to learn more.