“The number one key issue here is a general lack of regional and community leadership . . . there is no move toward growth or change. We are stagnant. Every other issue we have is due to the leadership of this region.”
Couldn’t have said it better myself. That’s from a Roanoke Times editorial this morning (probably written by my pal Dwayne Yancey) that talks about a report outlining the economic future of Southwest Virginia (Wytheville, south). It’s bleak, but we knew that. We knew coal is dying, population is fleeing, new business has no interest, retraining is vastly–criminally–underfunded. We also knew–and have known for years–that leadership was either crooked or too caught up in doctrinaire politics to do anything at all. Simple fact: Southwest Virginia is heavily Republican.
Morgan Griffith of Salem (which is not in the district) is the congressional representative and has been since he upset the best rep the 9th District has ever had, Rick Boucher. Griffith did it by promising to bring back coal. That is like promising to bring back the typewriter and the telephone, but that’s where Griffith’s head is: the past. He is a far right-winger who’ll promise you anything and spend nothing.
Southwest Virginia needs–desperately needs–an infusion of government cash, but the “drown the government in a bathtub” politicians that Griffith represents have done nothing in recent years and plan nothing further for the future. They are still promising to “save” coal. And if they “save” it, who buys the coal? Not Americans.
Griffith is the leader of the region in the political sphere, but he is as much symptomatic of the complete and utter lack of political leadership and will the 9th represents as anything or anybody.