Stephen Coonts: Why is Manchin still a Democrat?
THIS is an open letter to Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va.
Why are you a Democrat?
Regardless of whether President Obama or Gov. Romney wins on Tuesday, your election to a full term in the US Senate seems assured.
The people of West Virginia apparently like you personally and feel that your social conservatism fits well with their values. They also believe your powerful voice for their lifestyles and livelihood will make you a good representative of their interests in the U.S. Senate.
But there you will be ensconced in the Senate chamber, even if the Republicans pick up a majority in the Senate, listening to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, who failed to pass a budget in the Senate in 2010, 2011, or 2012, in violation of the Senate's constitutional duty. Sen. Reid even declared that it would be "foolish for us to do a budget."
There you will be, cheek and jowl with Sen. Charles Schumer of New York, Reid's Number Two, who said that Democrats will stop any attempt to pass bipartisan tax reform in 2013, calling the idea "obsolete."
Incidentally, Schumer is the loudest voice in the Senate for gutting the Second Amendment guarantee of the right to own firearms.
A man is known by the company he keeps.
There you will be, listening to the Democrats' diatribes against the coal industry, against fracking the Marcellus Shale gas deposits that underlie most of West Virginia, and against sustainable forestry in West Virginia's national forests, which they want to turn into inaccessible wilderness areas.
There you will be, listening to the Democrats' paeans to Medicaid, Obamacare (Medicaid Plus), welfare and food stamps and giving only lip service to well-paying jobs for today's workers and the generation just now graduating from high schools and colleges.
There you will be, listening to your fellow Democrats defend massive federal deficits, without a glimmer of a realistic plan to eventually bring the federal budget into balance and start paying off the $16 trillion national debt.
There you will be, sitting with senators who refuse to come up with a plan to make Medicare and Social Security sustainable for future generations.
There you will be, watching your fellow Democrats defend increasing the federal death taxes, which under the best estimates will bring in just enough revenue to fund the federal government for exactly one day.
Their argument is that if you paid for the store or farm once, your heirs should do it again, as a matter of social justice. Do you believe that?
Senator Manchin, you should be a Republican.
They are working for an economic recovery, fair taxes and jobs for your West Virginia constituents. It's high time you changed parties and crossed the aisle. You owe it to the people of West Virginia.
Coonts, a native of Buckhannon, owns a farm in Pocahontas County. He is the author of 14 best-selling books, the first of which was "Flight of the Intruder."