Here’s a recap and picture of the West Virginia Democratic Primary (click to enlarge):
Not very complicated. A fifteen-point margin for Senator Sanders, despite the near-unanimous backing of the state Party elite going to the other candidate. Sanders won all fifty-five counties, and “protest candidate” Paul Farrell, who spent no money and did not campaign, received nine percent, taking second place in certain coalfield counties.
While I was an early endorser of Senator Sanders, I was not hostile to Secretary Clinton. It just seemed clear to me that she wasn’t right for our Party, in our state, this year. But a month after the voters confirmed that instinct in May, the state Party elites would swing the state’s delegation to Hillary Clinton, at the insistence of her strongest supporter in West Virginia, US Senator Joe Manchin. But you would think after the catastrophic loss for West Virginia Democrats that followed, there’d be some re-thinking going on.
You would think, but you’d be wrong. Senator Manchin tripled down on his support for Clinton, and actually attacked Senator Sanders in a lengthy profile in the heavily right-leaning Washington Examiner this week. He emphasized that he does not believe in Sanders’ principles and pledged to fight against the Sanders movement in the Senate. He had previously called Sanders’ efforts to directly debate Trump “bullshit.”
Registered Democrats not only provided Trump his massive margin of victory on November 8th, they also voted for a Republican Senate, Republican House, and Republican Board of Public Works. Never mind Republicans, our own Democratic voters are tired of being attacked and insulted by their own Party leadership, and it shows in how they vote. The lack of a focused, practical, middle class economic message is killing our Party.
Why is our state Democratic Party at war with its own people? Organized labor, once the cornerstone of the West Virginia Democratic Party, faces annihilation at the hands of a Trump NLRB. The teachers’ unions and AFCSME could be shattered, and the Mine Workers could lose what little is left of the their pensions and even black lung benefits. Working people will suffer tremendously because the folks that were supposed to champion them in the Democratic Party chose the elite-financed, establishment Clinton campaign over Sanders even in places where their voters shouted the opposite.
Here’s the point: the voters will not follow people who treat them the way they’ve been treated. They’ve said so four elections in a row now here in West Virginia. But the word from the very top seems to be “all is well,” and adds further rejection of the candidate the voters chose so overwhelmingly last May. If that keeps up, it will be a long four, to eight, to twelve years. “Quit stuffing your ears” this Thanksgiving would be a good prescription for the West Virginia Democrats.