Lesser of Two Evils


My latest op-ed. Tis my sad duty to make sure  my world remembers this man’s betrayal of our mountains.

Lesser of Two Evils

The Charleston Gazette

October 25, 2011


            A long time ago I gave my grandpa a hard time for voting for Bill Marland because I heard the rumor that Marland was a drunk. My grandpa said that he would vote for a drunk Democrat before he would a Republican. I now agree with him. If the only choice I have is a Democrat or Republican, I will vote for the Democrat every time. Anytime I am disgusted by the Democratic candidate, the Republicans put up someone worse on every issue I care about.

Usually the Democratic and the Republican candidates are in a dead heat when it comes to blowing up every coal bearing mountain in West Virginia. And they both want to destroy the effectiveness of the Environmental Protection Agency. But where the Republicans are worse is that in addition to their antediluvian attitude toward the environment, they also want to repeal every socially beneficial program since Franklin Roosevelt was first elected.

          When Jay Rockefeller first ran for political office many of us thought we had someone who would not imitate the least worthy and least principled West Virginia politicians. But Rockefeller, turns out to be in the lesser of two evils category like most other Democratic politicians. Like Republicans, Senator Manchin and Congressman Rahall, Rockefeller supports the massive injury that mountain top removal strip mining does to West Virginia and he wants the Environmental Protection Agency to quit picking on his friends who own the companies that are destroying our mountains. Rockefeller never got over losing to Arch Moore the first time he ran for governor. To get coal industry support in subsequent elections, Rockefeller groveled at their feet and sold out for a lifetime job of being their boy.

          Paul Nyden’s Gazette article on October 11, 2001, Rockefeller reminds us that we just have to look at the gorgeous fall colors to see that West Virginia is an outdoor enthusiast’s paradise and that we need to keep it that way. He probably just closes his eyes when he visits his political birthplace in Boone County where blasted away mountains don’t have those gorgeous fall colors.

          In the Nyden article, Rockefeller says that the best fishing in the world is in West Virginia and that it is “…vitally important that we keep our rivers, lakes and streams pristine and safe.” Rockefeller is kidding us again. He approves of and promotes the burying of hundreds of miles of those pristine streams with removed mountain tops and at the same time poses as a protector of pristine streams. Hypocrisy anyone?

        A different Rockefeller said in years past that strip mining damage is permanent, tears up the beauty of West Virginia and should be abolished. He lamented that “Strip-mining must be abolished because of its effect on…the many West Virginians who have suffered actual destruction of their homes; those who have put up with flooding, mud slides, cracked foundations, destruction of neighborhoods, decreases in property values, the loss of fishing and hunting, and the beauty of the hills…”

If only Rockefeller had not flip-flopped on mountain top removal and had stood up to the coal industry, many wouldn’t have to hold their noses as they vote for the least of two evils. My grandfather voted for a drunk Democrat before a Republican. I wish he were here to advise me about voting for a hypocritical  Democrat over a Republican.

About Sam's Branch

I joined the Peace Corps in 1961 as West Virginia’s first volunteer. Go to Amazon.com to order my book Imagonna: Peace Corps Memories. I am the eighth generation of my family born in the Big Coal River Valley of West Virginia. My father and grandfather were underground coal miners. I have a chemical engineering degree from West Virginia University (WVU). After training to make sidewinder missiles, I joined the Peace Corps and taught chemistry and coached the track team at a secondary school in Nigeria. Since that time, I was WVU’s first full time foreign student advisor and worked in urban outreach, organic farming, construction labor, and high school teaching. I recently retired from the board of directors of the West Virginia Highlands Conservancy (wvhighlands.org), and recently retired from the board of directors of the West Virginia Kanawha State Forest Foundation (ksff.org). I am still on the board of the Labor History Association and the West Virginia Environmental Education Association and recently joined the board of the West Virginia Civil Liberties Union. I am active in the campaign to stop the destructive practice of mountain top removal strip mining in the Appalachian Mountains. You may contact me at martinjul@aol.com or my blog samsbranch.wordpress.
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