A column by Mike Myer, executive editor of The Intelligencer/Wheeling News-Register
WHEELING, W.Va. — At last, the ghost of Franklin D. Roosevelt has been banished from many West Virginia homes where he resided for three-quarters of a century.
Does that mean Mountain State Democrats should emulate state Sen. Daniel Hall of Wyoming County, and rush to their courthouses to switch parties?
Emphatically, no. What happened Tuesday is an opportunity for Democrats willing to adapt to a new reality.
It is, quite simply, that many Mountain State residents – but not all, and with good reason – no longer subscribe to the unthinking faith in big government that FDR reinforced. And many no longer follow labor unions’ political orders without question. Ask U.S. Rep. Nick Rahall, D-W.Va., about that.
The United Mine Workers union endorsed him. For 19 terms in Congress, that was basically all Rahall needed. Not this time. He lost, badly, to Republican challenger Evan Jenkins on Tuesday.
For many years, it was enough in West Virginia politics to be a member of the party of FDR. Uncle Sam came to our state dressed in a Santa Claus outfit. Big government was good because it handed out lots of goodies.
More and more people have come to realize someone has to pay for all those nice things – Social Security, health care for the old and poor, nice schools, highways, etc. And more people are noticing that those “government jobs” don’t last long. Once the federally funded construction project is over, it’s back to food stamps.
Finally, many West Virginians have become aware that government is killing our jobs through the war on coal, jacking our electric bills up – and, through President Barack Obama, demeaning a way of life most in the Mountain State revere.
FDR would never have made those mistakes. Neither would JFK.
Now, hundreds of thousands of West Virginians still see Democrats as the good folks who give them things, including Medicaid.
But many others – rightly or wrongly – see the modern Democrat Party as having abandoned the principles of FDR and JFK.
That’s where opportunity knocks for the smart Democrat politician. A “Take Our Party Back” movement would reap big dividends. We’ll see if it happens.