From its conception, West Virginia has historically been a Democrat-influenced state.
When I say Democrat, I mean the modern understanding of what we know as the party today, not the original Democrat party, founded by Andrew Jackson. Only recently has it been that West Virginians began registering and voting for the Republican party, causing one of the greatest political state shifts to date.
Not only has this caused a few heads to turn, wondering why, but the Governor of the State, Jim Justice, switched parties half-way through his term, causing a major controversy in August of 2017.
The problem here isn’t that West Virginians are deciding to become Republicans, because everyone has the right to their own beliefs. The true issue here is that they’re electing representatives that don’t support the legislations that the state and its citizens so desperately need right now.
In a time when West Virginia is dealing with major flooding, preparing for the onset of forest fire season, and just “celebrated” a record-breaking amount of landslides in 2018 due to mountaintop removal, the problems our government should really be concerned with are the ones that affect the land around us, instead of fast-tracking concealed carry on college campuses bills.
It’s no secret that, stereotypically, environmental issues are not thought to be a high priority for Republican lawmakers by the general population—but stereotypes exist for a reason.
In his manuscript, The Ideology of Climate Change Denial in the United States, Jean Moulin University Lyon 3 Professor, Jean-Daniel Collomb, dug into which political party takes what stance on the state of climate change and related topics to the two variables. In his abstract he wrote, “First, climate denial stems from the strong ideological commitment of small-government conservatives and libertarians to laisser-faire and their strong opposition to regulation.”
So if this is true, why are West Virginians still electing so many climate change-denying Republicans and Democrats that don’t seem to hold the same opinions as almost the entirety of their party, into office? If it’s because President Trump, also a member of the Republican party, promised to bring coal jobs back to Appalachia, he’s not doing a very good job. In fact, those job are at an all time low since he’s been in office.
Whatever’s happening in West Virginia’s politics, something needs to be fixed pertaining to our environmental policies—and fast. If the past decade of natural disasters and extreme weather has been enough of a warming, we are all certainly doomed.