Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Lessons in Voting from the Patty Duke Show

The Patty Duke Show once aired an episode in which Patty was running for class president against her twin cousin Cathy.  As the contest between the two intensified, their campaigns assumed all the nasty hallmarks of modern politics: name-calling, name-calling, and more name-calling.  And while the two former bosom buddies battled it out on stage, behind podiums, and around campus, another person went virtually unnoticed: a third candidate who had neither the good looks, sparkling personalities, nor popularity of the contentious cousins.  Nevertheless, it was the third candidate, the ugly duckling, the girl whose entire platform consisted of three words--"Vote For Me"--delivered in a quiet, respectful manner, who won the election in a landslide.  

Right now, as I watch Democrat Natalie Tennant and Republican Shelley Moore Capito battle it out for Jay Rockefeller's (D. W.V.) seat in the United States Senate, I am feeling the kind of disgust that made the fictional voters in that long-ago show choose a virtual unknown over the back-biting cousins.  Unfortunately, there is no third choice in the upcoming election.  Thus, while I can, by voting for Tennant, send Capito a clear message that I am offended by the shenanigans perpetuated by her Republican Party for the last 14 years, there is no third person for whom I can vote to send an equally clear message to Tennant that I object to her running as "Capito light."

If a candidate running for office as a Democrat wants my vote, I expect the candidate to run on the accomplishments of that party.  The last thing I want the candidate to do is parrot the protestations of her Republican opponent that she has done everything she could to thwart any and all governance by the first black President of the United States.  A Republican candidate can protest all she wants that the opposition is coming to take my guns away, but I expect a Democrat to reject such hysteria and instead advocate support for intelligent and reasoned measures that will assure that guns are kept out of the hands of criminals, wife beaters, and the dangerously mentally ill.

"War on Coal" rhetoric is to be expected from a Republican whose path to the Senate is paved with the gold of coal company CEOs seeking to install a puppet who will look the other way as they blast apart mountains, foul streams, pollute drinking water, violate safety regulations, decimate unions, and kill miners.  But a Democrat who spouts off against "Obama's War on Coal" in a thinly veiled attempt to curry favor with the racist redneck portion of the electorate is in danger of losing the support of any voter who recognizes that the needs of the almost 2 million people who live in West Virginia should outweigh the wants of the less than 10,000 miners who are still employed in this state and the few coal companies that still operate here.