It's time to upgrade our government

By The West Virginia Record | Oct 25, 2006



Some of you remember our typing classes back in the 1960s and 1970s. We were asked to repeatedly type, "Now is the time for all good men to come to the aid of their country."

Although this was a typing exercise then, it was also a true statement. Today it's even more true than it was then.

But in West Virginia, the statement might more appropriately say, "Now is the time for all good men and women to vote for the aid of their state."

Of course, it's actually long past time. As a state, we've been on the decline for decades and each election the politicians tell us it's getting better.

We're used to the rhetoric. We're used to the promises. We're used to the untruths. We're even used to the corruption. But we're at least partly to blame. We've historically voted for friends, promises, a little favor or a slogan.

Now it's time to vote for West Virginia, for kids, for jobs, and for real change.

At my house, I have a 1950s style antique typewriter and a rotary dial phone. The other day a 9-year old was visiting. He looked at the typewriter and said, "What is that?" He then saw the phone and said, "Is that a telephone?"

His questions caused me to reflect on how quickly things change. This kid can work circles around many of us on a computer, beat us at video games and set the time on the VCR. But he doesn't know what a typewriter is.

But despite the advances in phones, typewriters, computers, pagers, TiVo's, microwaves, et al, the illicit politics of West Virginia has endured without much change. Straight ticket voting hasn't changed even though we now vote on computers. Slates are still around, too.

West Virginians are fiercely loyal to incumbent politicians. That hasn't changed either.

But just like the manual typewriter and the rotary phone have been left behind, so has West Virginia. We trail all states in family income, and court fairness. We are unable to compete because we still hold on to old ways of thinking and voting. We're as non-competitive as a typewriter matched up against a computer.

It's really ironic, too. Our great state was separated from Virginia on June 20, 1863. The actual document that President Lincoln signed to create West Virginia is still in the Supreme Court building in Charleston. The table the state constitution was signed on is there, too. Among the actions taken at the time was that West Virginia adopted all the laws of Virginia effective immediately.

Today Virginia law allows Virginia to be number one in the entire country in terms of job climate. Yet today, West Virginia is last or next to last depending on the survey you see.

Can you believe that we've elected and continue to elect politicians that are responsible for destroying jobs and prosperity in West Virginia?

I've been quoted as saying that "we simply need to go down to the Virginia State Capitol and get their law books and do again what we did in 1863." Pass a bill or constitutional amendment that says we hereby adopt the laws of Virginia. If we would do that, maybe our children wouldn't have to move to Virginia to find a job. Why not live under Virginia law here rather than in Richmond?

What's the point of voting for the same old ideas that have put our state in the cellar? We need to give our kids the same chance at a future as the kids in Virginia have. Who can argue with that? The answer - only the politicians. The politicians that keep telling us that "things are getting better." They tell us they're "being responsible." They tell us they're "a team."

It's time to upgrade our government and our laws. I hope West Virginians do on Nov. 7. Remember when you see that computer in the election booth that typewriters, old style politics, and straight ticket voting should all be relics of the past.

Vote for the sake of the kids by voting for the candidates that will reduce taxes, protect children and pass job-creating laws.

Blankenship is CEO of Massey Energy and responsible for the And For The Sake Of The Kids political action group.

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