It’s election time in Appalachia, particularly in my home region of Southwest Virginia and I’m not very thrilled.
While I value and treasure the right to vote, voting in Appalachia is not all its cracked up to be. In fact, voting on this end of the state just doesn’t seem to carry much weight anymore.
Watching this year’s governor race, I have not been impressed by any of the three candidates. One promises to make UVa-Wise the “centerpiece of economic revival in Southwest Virginia” but gives little to no detail on how to do it while the other promises to keep coal front and center in an economy that is already devastated beyond rescue.
The third party candidate? I never once heard one thing about him or had any idea if he even came to Southwest Virginia. It’s funny how the “Big Two” can put a squeeze on an alternative candidate and push him out of the picture.
But what frustrates me most is the appeasing tone generated by the Virginia gubernatorial candidates this election year in Appalachia and Southwestern Virginia.
And it’s not just the statewide candidates either. A few of them are local.
It’s a tone of appeasement that is reminiscent of a mother trying to get her infant to stop crying. While the infant may have needs that must be attended to, the mother looks to soothe her child in any way possible, through food, holding the baby or changing the diaper.
While Southwest Virginia has been fed at times over the last couple of decades, held and been serenaded with the old song of “We’re important in the future of the Commonwealth”, this baby is in need of a major diaper change and the diaper is overflowing with political poop.
It’s not just in Richmond, it’s locally also.
This baby, as in the Southwest Virginia region, is crying out for change and the politicians statewide and locally, are ignoring the demand for change from far Southwestern Virginia.
Virginia’s present governor, that is until January 2018, has been nothing more than a big “slumlord” when it comes to how he has treated Southwest Virginia. He promised big things for the Commonwealth in his election but somehow along the journey, forgot or deliberately planned, to contribute to the demise and extinction of Southwest Virginia.
Instead of upgrading the Southwestern portion of the state (yes, we are a part of the Commonwealth, or at least the last time I checked), the current governor has reduced this region to nothing short of a ghetto, falling apart, crumbling at the slightest touch and then tells his political cronies, “Well, its what they deserve for voting against me and my party.”
Along the journey, he has fed Southwest Virginia with little things; a few jobs here and there, but only things that will satisfy the general population for a short time. Sort of like a political pacifier all the while walking around, sidestepping the region with a clothespin on his nose and telling everyone, “I’ll take care of feeding them, babying them and the little things but I don’t and won’t change the diaper.”
Here is where the problem lies.
We’ve been left with a diaper that is overflowing with problems and no one wants to clean it up or the mess it has made.
Terry McAuliffe isn’t the only one it falls back on. It falls back on several other state leaders who chose to distance themselves from “Hicksville” far Southwestern Virginia and come into town when election time rolls around, telling us how important we are.
On the local level, we’re still represented by people who want to keep things the same as they were 30, 40, 50 years ago or more. They want Pleasantville, Mayberry or picture their world as a cover shot from “Southern Living” magazine.
I don’t know about some of them but I want change. I want to move toward an even greater diversity in the economy of Southwest Virginia. There are even greater needs facing the region besides jobs.
Healthcare, the availability of it and the cost to the little man, is yet another need along with saving our schools, slowing the bleeding of the population leaving Southwest Virginia and reinvesting in Southwest Virginia before it becomes one huge ghost town. We need improved infrastructure, including broadband and roads, not to mention clean water and more.
It’s not a Democrat issue nor is it a Republican issue. Let’s understand that one party is not going to solve the problem overnight, despite how hard they preach and promise. It’s going to take work, including reaching across the aisle, putting aside the party mascot and politics and working together. There’s a lot to do and we’re up against the clock.
And before you get the idea that I’m running for political office, forget that. I don’t choose to associate with some of either party who could be mistaken as coming from a den of thieves or venomous vipers.
Unfortunately, with the slate I saw on the ballot at the polls, I’m afraid we’re in for much of the same.
Politics as usual.
It makes you wonder if that vote really means anything. I know, they say, “one vote makes a difference”. But will that vote truly make a difference in the future of Southwest Virginia and Appalachia?
Only time will tell.
The clock is ticking.