The Republicans’ romp this week may have permanently turned coal country from blue to red.
Coal-heavy districts in West Virginia, Kentucky and Illinois that had been steadily moving away from Democrats in recent elections appear to have completed that shift Tuesday, when they overwhelmingly backed Republicans who vowed to oppose what they call President Barack Obama’s “war on coal.”
“This has been a growing trend in coal politics and will outlast President Obama’s tenure,” Wheeler said.
Gee, you tell people that you intend to put them out of business (and, thus, out of a job), and they’ll vote against you for it? Who could have seen that coming? In reality, it doesn’t make much sense for anyone in the entire energy sector, with the exception of “green” energy that relies on government subsidies to stay afloat, to vote for the Democrats. It isn’t just coal. The Democrats hate fracing. They hate offshore drilling, too. And they really hate nuclear and hydroelectric energy. Basically, if you are in the energy sector, the Democrats want you out of business.
Think about that for a minute. Damned near everything that we think of as “Modern Civilization” requires energy to function. It always kills me to see the hippies protesting power plants while yakking on their cell phones and surfing the web on their iPads. The anti-energy people are some of the lest self-conscious people out there. You can think of them as a human sponge (the sea creature). They sit there and take all the energy in that anyone else does, but they do it simply by virtue of being. They don’t have any real awareness of where it comes from or what is necessary to produce it (you get the same kind of thing with people that think meat comes from a grocery store).
All of this is good news for the GOP, not just for this election, but for the coming elections:
In West Virginia, once a long-time Democratic stronghold, Republicans will take control of both houses of the state legislature for the first time since 1931. Republicans picked up seven seats in the state Senate to bring the balance to 17-17, and then Democrat Daniel Hall switched parties Wednesday to give the majority to the GOP.
Voters there also elected Rep. Shelley Moore Capito as their first GOP senator in 56 years, and Republicans won three congressional contests, even kicking out 38-year incumbent Rep. Nick Rahall.
The “policies and priorities espoused by the national Democratic Party, as reflected in their platform, don’t resonate with the priorities, beliefs and feelings of the people” of West Virginia, said Evan Jenkins, the Republican who will take Rahall’s place in Congress.
“Southern West Virginia in particular has been devastated economically over this last six years in the war on coal,” he said. “It’s very difficult for West Virginia Democrats to explain to the voters why their party maintains such an anti-coal agenda.”
Now, keep in mind that this is just West Virginia. This won’t have the same impact that, say, California waking up from her slumber and recognizing what the Democrats hath wrought would have. But it is a start, and it may be the leading edge of a permanent shift (as much as anything in politics can be termed “permanent”).
While West Virginia has been trending toward the Republican Party for years, in Kentucky, where Sen. Mitch McConnell beat Grimes by 15 percentage points, Obama’s policies on coal appeared to have helped the GOP, he said.
McConnell won by the largest margins in the state’s coal-producing counties, often topping the 70 percent mark. “I’m not sure some of those counties he’s won ever,” said Bissett. The senator won 47 counties where more than 60 percent of voters are registered Democrats.
As the next Senate majority leader, McConnell says Republicans “will use the power of the purse to try to push back against this overactive bureaucracy,” pointing to the “war on coal” as a prime example.
While the new GOP majority in Congress means fossil fuels will see more support in Washington, the loss of so many Democrats from coal-heavy House districts may make it harder for Republicans to reach across the aisle on measures to benefit the industry.
With the defeats Rahall, Bill Enyart (D-Ill.) and John Barrow (D-Ga.), “it is going to be much harder crafting bipartisan legislation on energy and environmental issues in the House,” Wheeler said.
Enyart, a co-chairman of the congressional coal caucus, represented a southern Illinois district heavily reliant on coal, and Barrow and Rahall held the center on the House Energy and Commerce Committee as “go-to Democrats for sponsorship of Republican-led and industry-favored legislation and letters,” Wheeler said. “Their defeat means it will be harder to attract Democrats to such efforts.”
This is why I say it may be the leading indicator of a permanent shift. The opposition to energy badly hurt the Democrats this time around, but rather than learning from that experience and shifting their policies accordingly, it looks like instead they are going to double-down on it. If you look at a map of the United States showing the counties that voted Republican versus Democrat, you see a set of large urban areas that are extremely heavily Democrat surrounded by a sea of, well, the rest of the country, that is Republican. These large urban areas are tremendous consumers of energy, but the popular will there is decidedly against the energy sector, with the exception of “green” power. These people have no idea what it takes to keep a power grid running. Electricity is magic pixie dust that comes out of a socket on the wall. That is why you see the perennial push for “electric” cars as “green” alternatives. They never consider that you have to burn coal (or natural gas, nuclear fuel, or whatever) to produce the electricity to charge the car.
The Energy Sector is a huge sector of the economy, and it is not at all a stretch to say that it is the sector that makes most (if not all) of the other sectors of the economy possible. If you work in that sector directly, it really is foolish to vote for the Democrats. They ultimately want to put you out of a job, unless you are a windmill operator or the like. But for the rest of us, energy is a vital commodity as well. When the Democrats try to put coal out of business, they are making almost everything else more expensive. The power that you use to power the computer that you are using may very well have been produced by coal, but even if it wasn’t, the loss of the supply of coal energy will cause the price of all other supplies of energy to rise, as the Law of Supply and Demand dictates. The Democrats feel that they are above even natural laws, but when they step off the side of a building, they are going to fall just like the rest of us. With their war on energy, the Left may be taking that first fatal step right now.