Published in the Charleston WV Gazette-Mail October 5, 2019

Lonely in West Virginia

No, “Lonely in West Virginia” is not my Tinder profile name; that’s how I’m feeling as a minority here—not in language, culture or skin color, but by political label.  Evidently, I’m a Blue voter in a Red state, county and country.  Since 2016, Republicans have had near-total control of the federal government, plus most of the states. But you wouldn’t know it from their excoriating tone towards un-Republicans, in the editorial pages, political cartoons, the letters, the comments, and the online comments to the comments. They sound more like sore losers.  

Why so cranky?  They won this fight; they should be celebrating their momentum, not complaining that there are still people in this country who disagree with them.  When is total control enough to make them content?  When there is no dissent, no opposition party, no investigations, and no news sources other than Fox?  Mostly, I see daily ridicule of “Leftist Socialist” politicians, writers, policy-makers and academics who express concern about the environment, healthcare, national security, poverty, and education, in hopes of making improvements for us all. 

Obviously, “socialism” seems to be the new “enemy of the state.”  But which State?  

Here in West Virginia, there are no inner-city ghettos being “slum-shamed,” immigrant communities to repel, or Muslim cells to fear. That’s the world, some Republicans say, that proves the need to maintain a native-born Christian Caucasian population.  However, West Virginia also has some of the highest national rates of divorce, drug abuse, and unemployment. When Trump tweets about homicides and urban blight in Democratic majority places like Baltimore, Chicago, or the entire socialist state of California, it almost seems like a Republican Holiday.  Perhaps, as Richard Nixon would say, they like to have someone else to “kick around.” 

A lot has been written about the anger, resentment, and sense of abandonment of the “flyover” country, the Americans far outside big cities; cities where the “elites” rule, purloining the tax revenues, siphoning funds to their public transit systems and exclusive institutions. But it is the opposite that is true:  the taxes pooled from the wealthier big-city Blue States contribute to the welfare of rural, less-wealthy West Virginia, literally. That’s an example of socialism in our democracy. 

Rather than see socialism as a generic word that represents the sharing of resources to solve shared problems, Republicans have misdirected their scorn.  Surely they meant instead to malign the socialists of the “National Socialist Movement,” named in solidarity with the bygone 19th century National Socialist German Workers Party. The American chapter of the National Socialists is the largest of nearly 30 neo-Nazi organizations in the United States, an Aryan Brotherhood that represents the sharing of hate---something that unfortunately is also a shared problem.  

Instead of a caricature of a loopy adolescent activist being force-fed through a funnel on her head with “Socialist” ideas that, to many, represent life-saving actions--- a more apt image would be of a gun-toting Brownshirted white-supremacist being brainwashed through a funnel on his head with “National Socialist” ideas that to most, represent life-ending actions.  

Surely the latter is the socialism that is the enemy of any State---not the Socialism of Bernie Sanders or progressive Democrats, like them or not.  But I can understand how easy it is to get the two mixed up: American Socialists are consistently, across-the-board condemned by Republicans, but citizens who support the “National Socialists Movement” include some “very fine people.”

The GOP, now renamed Trump’s Base, has won this country, and that’s not going to change no matter who is in power. They may find that it’s a lot harder to be in charge, especially if it means being happier than they were three years ago, and shoveling less hate than they accuse the Liberals of slinging.  In the meantime, I’d love to see a logical, respectful rebuttal to proposals being ridiculed as “insane.” I hope any analysis would include the CBO “scoring” required of all proposed legislation:  Magically, that was ignored after it predicted that Trump’s 2017 tax reform would increase the federal deficit. Tens of billions of dollars of that increase has already been documented.

In my opinion, many of the ideas proposed by certain Democratic candidates are unlikely to become law--- fortunately.  But then, no one here has ever asked me; they just assume that I’m a Liberal---whatever that is.  It’s a desolate place being adrift on the “Left” side of the paper, as some have reported my whereabouts to be. I’d pick up and go somewhere else, but so far, no one else will have me.  

Even with our differences, I’d hoped we were all in this together, but as it turns out, I’m just “Lonely in West Virginia.”