Planet Gore

Democrats Lose the Appalachian Working Man

“Representative John D. Dingell . . . said that the regulation of carbon dioxide emissions by the E.P.A. would set off a ‘glorious mess’ that would resonate throughout the economy.” — New York Times, 2009

Since Barack Obama’s re-election, much has been made of Republican failures — particularly with the crucial Latino vote in key swing states. But the Democrats are not without their own disturbing numbers. They continue to be — despite Obama’s rhetoric — the party of the other-than-middle class, with voting blocs over $50,000 in income voting Romney. Republicans also made a significant, 9 percent gain among Jewish voters in the face of the administration’s chilly relations with Israel — not to mention the anti-business policies felt by this famously entrepreneurial minority (800 prominent Michigan Jews took out an ad for Romney in the Jewish News before Election Day).

But consider the most disturbing fact of the 2102 election for the “Party of the Working Man”: Democrats lost traditionally blue-collar, heavily Democratic coal country — from Southern Pennsylvania to eastern Ohio as well as all of Kentucky and West Virginia.

Why? Because the Democratic Party’s upper-crust, deeply devout Green class is waging war on the energy-producing working class. This year alone, thousands of miners lost their jobs because the EPA imposed strict global warming rules eliminating future coal plants.

So predictably was West Virginia in the Democratic column once upon a time that in 1988m, the United Mine Workers–controlled Mountain State was one of just nine states to vote for the hapless Michael Dukakis. But in the last four election cycles — since Al Gore’s religion mesmerized his party — West Virginia has become a solid GOP vote for one reason: The Democratic War on Coal.

Think of it: In 2012 Appalachian blue-collars voted in a landslide for a Republican Massachusetts millionaire.

True enough, Dingell’s predicted “glorious mess” is now resonating — not only in the economy, but in his own party. Dingell knows a thing or two about green fanatics trying to kill American industry — he fought against the Left’s War on the Automobile in his Big Three district west of Detroit for years. Recent redistricting means that Dingell now also represents the green university town of Ann Arbor — so his anti-environmentalist diatribes are more muted these days.

But when asked this week whether it’s a good idea for Obama’s EPA to be killing coal, he replied matter-of-factly: “Of course not.”

After all, Dingell opposed the EPA’s radical interpretation of his own Clean Air Act to rule carbon dioxide a pollutant. The “EPA got it wrong,” he says. But science lost that fight in the Supreme Court. And as result, Democrats are losing their working-man brand. Republicans lost Missouri and Indiana Senate seats this year thanks to Religious Right extremists. Meanwhile, Democrats lost Appalachia due to Religious Left Green extremists.

Both parties have been warned.

Henry Payne — Henry Payne is the auto critic for the Detroit News.

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