West Virginia feels the Bern

Holy frack. You have GOT to see this town-hall meeting Bernie Sanders attended in McDowell County, West Virginia:

McDowell has the distinction of being the setting of Homer Hickam’s memoir, Rocket Boys (and the movie based on it, October Sky). It’s overwhelmingly dependent on coal mines for its economic survival, with a long history of company towns and brutal anti-union violence. It’s the poorest, most economically depressed county in the US. It’s also the one that went most overwhelmingly for Drumpf…though not because of anything the man himself promised (which was all bullshit and hot air anyway, and the local folks probably knew it), but because he was plainly and simply not Hillary Clinton. She was perceived as one of those out-of-touch neoliberal/neo-conservative elites that the locals have plenty of cause to dislike and mistrust (because guess who screwed them out of everything, time and again? Yup.) And when the DNC rigged its own primaries against Bernie, they had no other option except Big Dumb Orange You Know Who. Being told that Drumpf “loves coal” isn’t what did it; not getting the Democrat they wanted and needed was. (West Virginia went overwhelmingly to Bernie Sanders in the primaries.)

But although Drumpf has essentially turned his back on the place now that he got to where he wanted to be, Bernie sure hasn’t. And the locals will not forget him. He’s the man who should have run against Drumpf, because he’d have won. He speaks to them plainly and simply, yes…but he doesn’t insult their collective intelligence. He knows their value, and he knows they’re not dumb. He also knows they had nothing worthwhile to choose from once the primaries ended. So he’s back there again, talking and listening, and no doubt working on a real economic plan to revive the region, even though it’s a long way from his native Brooklyn (and his current home state of Vermont).

What will it look like? No doubt a lot greener than the current, coal-dusted vision that Drumpf has for his industry-owning, regulation-hating cronies. The fact that the miners in the room all agree that they’d take non-coal jobs, as long as they paid as well as coal, raises the possibility of, say, wind farms on the mountaintops, instead of slack dumps and polluted streams. Those take skilled workers to build and maintain. Black lung isn’t an issue there, as it is in the mines. That’s just one of several possibilities, and I wouldn’t be a bit surprised if Bernie has thought of it already.

Keep watching him, folks.

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