Everyone is tired of hearing about the presidential election. I know I am. But I am frustrated too, for several reasons.
1. Once again, the media has stereotyped West Virginia as backwoods people with little education, low income, and oh let's not forget to mention, predominantly white. When did it become a problem to be a predominantly white state? I would bet Mississippians of both races feel the same about being noted as a predominantly African American state. Why does it matter what color we are? We're voters, plain and simple, and we have the right to make a choice.
The implication seems to be that since we're a mostly white state (94.9%), we must all be racist. Yet I didn't hear comments about the whiteness of Vermont (96.7% according to the US Census Office QuickFacts), or Maine (96.7%), or Idaho (95.2%). Why was race considered as a factor by the media in West Virginia (and North Carolina and probably a few others), but not in all states with skewed demographics?
And why is it okay for the media to make remarks like this? To me, it's discriminatory. Our votes were apparently unimportant because, well after all they're all dumb hillbillies who aren't educated and probably don't know to vote for the "right" candidate.
2. Who, in the media's opinion, is obviously Obama. He's a good man, and he's run a fantastic race. I may end up voting for him if he wins the party nomination. But the slant in his favor in the media is flagrant. The constant drone of "Hillary must drop out" that we hear day after day is meant to influence voters. When did the media stop reporting the news and begin trying to determine what the news will be? I find this trend alarming in the extreme.
The not-so-subtle message for West Virginians was "you might as well vote for Obama since Hillary is going to drop out anyway." When did the press take on the role of telling us who was going to win? Sure, poll after poll might indicate a candidate is in the lead; a candidate may move ahead in the voting in the primaries and become the obvious candidate. But the process, I thought, was that the actual candidate is selected at the convention. Which is still some time off.
3. And the rush to judgment is making West Virginians (and those in states who have not yet held primaries) feel that our votes are insignificant, that we don't count. "Oh well," analysts say, "Hillary won West Virginia but it doesn't matter."
Yes, it does. It matters to me and to everyone else who voted. We want our voice heard. Those still waiting to vote want their vote heard. Pundits decry the decline in voter turnout. Is it any wonder that people feel disenfranchised when we're told that the candidate is already chosen and our votes won't matter?
Amidst the cacophony of talking heads, West Virginians turned out in droves to cast votes. This even though we've heard for weeks that the Democratic candidate is really already chosen. We voted for the candidate we like, not the one we have been assured will be the one. We voted, even though the media repeated over and over that in the end our vote won't matter.
Maybe it's because we're stubborn mountaineers that we naively believe that our votes count, that we have a voice in this country. A small voice it might be, but it echoed loudly in these hills yesterday.