I’m not usually a political pundit, but will go out on a limb here at the eleventh hour: West Virginia, a Republican state now tagged as favoring Senator John McCain, will instead cast its five electoral votes for Senator Barack Obama.
Several highlights during this historical election have caught my attention, among them the way life has imitated art: Who could have predicted “Plumber Joe,” also known as Samuel Werzelbacher, would do for this presidential race what the character Bud Johnson did for the fictional race on the big screen in "Swing Vote?" (In other words, the nation’s attention was focused on one man while more serious issues went by the wayside.)
Just three days after pundits and media personnel everywhere were shocked when Alaska Governor Sarah Palin was selected as Sen. McCain’s running mate—the Governor confirmed she was to become a grandmother. And the world learned her 17-year-old unmarried daughter was pregnant.
Those were just two of the more memorable events to capture the country’s attention in recent months. Closer to home, though, something not easily captured by the news media has been brewing. Here in West Virginia, more and more people have been leaning towards electing an African-American president.
I’m not sure why Senator Obama is called African-American when he’s half white, which I think makes him biracial. (Like most Americans?) Regardless, it’s not a secret that West Virginia’s history contains ugly elements of racism. I even wrote about it in an Oct. 14 post at my web site. (Racism in West Virginia? Does the Pope wear Prada?)
But three days later, something happened that shocked me: I drove down to Mingo County, in the southern part of the state, home to the 1920s coal strike and the Hatfield-McCoy family feud. That’s when I saw Obama-Biden signs on the lawns. This is why I think they’re there: “This is the first time in history a tremendous voice has been given to the disenfranchised people in this country.”
That’s not me talking; that’s a friend of Senator Jay Rockefeller speaking. She also saw the lawn signs in Mingo County, and says she’s talked to people who don’t want to admit they’re voting for a black man for president, but that’s what they plan to do tomorrow.Even here, in West Virginia. A Republican state.