Something about 'nothing'

By The West Virginia Record | Nov 10, 2006

West Virginia Democratic Party Chief Nick Casey couldn't help but gloat Wednesday. Election night couldn't have gone better, and his victories stuck it straight to a certain special someone.

"Don Blankenship spent a lot of money to do nothing," Casey jeered in aftermath, poking the coal executive who dipped in his own bank account to back pro-business legislative candidates.

We don't doubt that Mr. Casey, a Charleston zoning lawyer, actually believes as much, seeing as he measures his own worth in seats held and power seized. Politics to folks like him mean jobs and contracts to parcel out, favors to peddle and clout to wield.

Suffice to say, when you play in politics out of personal interest, spending two million dollars of your own money to promote a few policy ideas that won't indirectly pad your bank account is an alien concept.

Why is our state so much poorer than our neighbors? Why aren't our college graduates staying here? Why are our young moving elsewhere? How do we attract more high-paying jobs?

The status quo was able to prevail Tuesday without providing answers to any the above. As Mr. Casey might chuckle -- it didn't have to.

Assailing their GOP alternative proved plenty enough to ride inertia and a war-inspired national trend to victory. Their opponents are left hugging their proposed remedies -- tax cuts, court reform and the like -- with nowhere to implement or even propose them.

So Blankenship's efforts didn't bear political fruit this run around, but Casey and the victors should be warned.

Political empires like the West Virginia Democratic Party, which holds nearly every statewide office and suffocating majorities in the statehouse, don't fall via brute force. History tells us they eventually fail, rather, for their uninventiveness.

They give way not to a better empire but to a better, more creative problem-solver. They relent to the movement that finally, credibly targets their dilemmas.

That opportunity, what Mr. Blankenship and others are after in the long term, is far from "nothing." In fact, at this juncture, it's the only "something" to which working West Virginians have to turn.

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