May 5, 1960
The campaigning of Senators Humphries and Kennedy in West Virginia’s preferential primary has revealed some interesting paradoxes of national and state government for a quarter of a century. (One exception is the religious issue which has proven an entrapment for West Virginia’s school-boy orator and poetry scrapbook, Senator Byrd. Byrd’s “galloping” poll for Johnson and his reported position on Kennedy’s religion hasn’t strengthened him any with his constituencies.)
Except for 1948-1950 the Democrat party has had undisputed majority in the U. S. Congress, both houses. These majorities were large enough to enact any legislation agreed upon by the administration. Yet since 1932 the “neglected areas” among which West Virginia is readily classed by our visiting campaigners, have remained neglected in so far as any long-ranged, constructive program has been concerned. Then, suddenly, 1959-90, the Post Editors and the President hopefuls make a modern Walter Raleigh discovery: “The natives are backward and poverty-stricken.” Yet, us natives have been right here unnoticed for all this generation! A little late to do many of us oldsters any good!
Press releases indicate that Senator Kennedy made capital of the economic conditions in Fayette County bemoaning the lack of a balanced ration for the needy of that area. Had he looked farther he could have found other areas very similar. The public, however, should not lose sight of the fact that the provision for the purchase of surplus farm products, and the distribution of such came about as an act of Congress of which Kennedy is a member, all of which would indicate that senators should get out and see how the people live more often than once in four or six years, or a lifetime.
West Virginia has been taken as a kind of “proving ground” by the two Democrat aspirants. They can sound off here for the benefit of the rest of the nation in so far as the problems found in West Virginia are concerned. Of course many of them are common to the nation. The laws of the state in respect to allowing presidential candidates to enter their names in the primaries of course had something to do with it but why this particular year? Is is [sic] further to publicize the poverty of our state and to make Kennedy and Humphrey champions of the downtrodden? West Virginia’s condition should have been known to the two gentlemen back at the time of the mechanization of mines when the state’s working force shrank from 140,000 men down to less than 50,000.
More commodities, more and better balanced rations are needed, surely, in many areas, but this at best should be considered only as temporary. The solution is far more complicated. The solution lies in employment and employment can come about only through the production of goods and services which people desire and need.
So our impression of the releases read from campaigners convinces us that they fail to get down to basic, bed-rock solutions. We have had more than enough of polls, studies, surveys. The person who doesn’t by now know that problems exist has already disqualified himself from serious consideration for public office. However, this is not half way. A solution found in the economy must be had. More and more unfavorable publicity will tend to put us more nearly in light of needing sympathy rather than assistance of a concrete nature to get us on our feet economically.
We don’t need a wealthy Bostonian or a “liberal” northwestern to tell us that we have troubles. What we need is for these same people to give us the solution.
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