We Americans value choice. When we're shopping for something -- a car, for example -- we especially value choice. We want to be able to decide for ourselves just what options our new car will have, what color it will be, how many doors it will have. We feel the same way about smaller purchases, too. Whether we're shopping for an SUV or shoes, we want to have a choice.
It's too bad West Virginians don't value choice as much in politics.
Since the Great Depression, the state has been run by the Democratic Party. Registered Democrats outnumber registered Republicans 2-1 . Since the Great Depression, when the Democrats took control, state voters have not elected one Republican treasurer or attorney general. Since 1932, state voters have elected only one Republican agriculture commissioner, one Republican auditor, one Republican secretary of state. State voters have elected only two Republican governors.
Democratic domination continues today. In the state Legislature, only five of 34 state senators are Republican, and only 25 of 100 state delegates are.
It's difficult even to get Republicans to run for office. Who wants to endanger their checkbooks and their reputations in a campaign that's almost guaranteed to end in defeat? Right now, the May primary ballot has no Republican candidates for secretary of state, treasurer, auditor, agriculture commissioner or attorney general. There are no Republican candidates in the 1st or 3rd congressional districts. There are no Republican candidates in 11 of 17 state Senate races or 40 of 100 delegate races.
Why don't West Virginians value choice at the polling place as much as they do at the mall or the car lot? More Republicans in office would mean more viewpoints on the state's problems and how to address them. More viewpoints would generate more debate in the Capitol and in the county commission meeting room. More debate would bring to light more potential solutions for the state's problems.
What has been for the last 70 years isn't going to change overnight. But we encourage West Virginians to think about whether their state might be better off with a few more choices on the ballot and a few more Republicans in public office. We think it would be.