Never be afraid to stand with the minority when the minority is right, for the minority which is right will one day be the majority. - William Jennings Bryan
Monday, February 20, 2006
About My Home
I heard somebody say that the Ninth Congressional District is just about the same in land size as the state of New Jersey. It encompasses a big chunk of the state. A big chunk that used to be a reliable Democrat region. But no more. It's now as swing district as one can imagine. Bush in 2004 and 2000. Warner in 2001, Kilgore in 2005. Twelve-term Democratic Congressman whose opponent can't break 42%.
The people of Southwest Virginia--my neighbors, my friends, my cousins--are, for the most part, socially conservative and economically progressive. Up until recently (and still in some homes, and I know, because I've seen it) pictures of Jesus, John F. Kennedy and John L. Lewis hung in almost every house.
The reason Democrats have a hard time here now, though, is because a lot of people (except the union folks in Dickenson and Buchanan Counties) believe the Democratic Party has lost touch with them. I say no. I say at least a third of the people who vote Republican in this district are up for grabs if the Democrats could connect with them.
In my opinion, if we want to start winning more down here, my party needs to talk about four things:
1-Health Care: So many people in my part of the country don't have health care, or don't have access to health care. The free medical clinic every year in Wise is great, and there's also a Doctor's office on wheels, the Crossroads Medical Mission, that travels around and helps folks. But, as great as it is, it's not enough. The government needs to help. Rural health care is extremely important to my people.
2-Transportation: When I mention transportation, I mean it in reference to places like Copper Creek (where the paternal side of my family has been for a long, long time), Molls Creek, Castlewood, Hansonville, Bolton, and Greendale. These places all have high populations of elderly/older people. A lot of these people can't drive. There needs to be a program, kind of like a "fleet of church buses," to go around and pick up folks who have called and said they needed to get into town. There's no excuse that people in this country--in the United States--can't get to Food City or to the doctor.
3-Agriculture: The government needs to do more to support the family farmer. Pay more into farm subsidies. We need to encourage farmers to keep farming, keep producing the products that America ia famous for producing. We also need to provide incentives to folks who don't have a farm to start one, and by that, I mean the government should do everything it can to help them get off to a good start.
4-Minimum Wage: It's a joke that our minimum wage is so low. $5.15? If you work at minimum wage, eight hours a day, fifty weeks a year (we assume you get a two-week vacation--you might not), then you're only getting $10,300 a year. That's definitly not enough for house payments, car payments, electric, water, and heat payments, plus food, clothes, medical expenses, and any other unforseen expenses. I think we need the minimum wage at at least $7.50 or $7.70 a year, or possibly more. It's disgusting to me that we have people living (some just two or three miles from my bluecollar house) in this nation who look like they're living in a third world country. This is America. This is wrong.
If we could talk about these kind of things and stay away from the nuclear issues--abortion, gay marriage--then we can win back rural America.
I expect that James Webb will talk about this. I expect if and when Creigh Deeds runs for statewide office again, he'll talk about some of this stuff, and I expect that any candidate who wants to win west of Roanoke should use these issues as a base to talk from.