In one of my earliest memories, I recall climbing a large Japanese Maple tree in the front yard of my house in Costa, WV. Resting on its branches, I would wait for my father to come home from work. My dad, like most, was a coal miner. While the wind rocked me in the tree, I'd close my eyes and listen for the sound of that certain squeaky wheel that I would hear just before Dad's truck reached the driveway. I was seven years old at the time. Life was great in Boone County, WV. I had a beautiful home, plenty of friends at school, everything I wanted, and my parents had plenty.
In just a few short years, I started to see things change. I began hearing talk of "the mines shutting down" or "a lay-off" being expected soon. While I knew what this meant, I couldn't grasp what life would be like if those things occurred because they had never happened to my family. I noticed a change in our family's behavior. Not only did we slow our trips to dinner at restaurants, but we also traded in vehicles for cheaper models, went on fewer trips, and just simply, spent less money.
My mother, an employee at a medical office, and my father, a miner, were never political. In fact, I can only remember a few times that I heard the names George Bush or Barack Obama in my home. Both of my parents, while apolitical, were loyal, card-carrying Democrats, like everyone else in Boone County it seemed. Voting for Obama in the 2008 Presidential Elections, they never imagined that their lives would be drastically changed in the years to come, and I certainly did not.
By 2012, my beloved community had been devastated. We were now ravished with drugs, the mines had closed 50% or more, and our population was dwindling. I noticed that many of my classmates had moved away with their families and would oftentimes overhear conversations about leaving Boone County. While I had just begun my musical journey, being taught how to play fiddle and guitar by a local musician by the name of Bert Wood, my parents had begun a new journey as well. They were going through the first major trial of their marriage; financial devastation.
Around the time of my sixteenth birthday, my parents separated and were preparing for a divorce. After over twenty years of marriage, the toll of financial hardship had strained their relationship beyond repair. I never thought I would be a child that had divorced parents. My mother and father went their separate ways, our communities became even more drug-ridden, and our local schools were beginning to be consolidate, causing entire communities to dry up.
Many folks outside of the Appalachian region, an area in our country so dependent on the fossil fuel industry, had been impacted under the Obama administration. A group of people that had been so loyal to the Democratic Party for decades, had been completely forsaken by the very people they voted for. A ruling class of politicians, who would never be impacted by their cult-like climate agenda, disregarded the real-world impacts of these policies on their voters. The policies of the modern day Democrat party had utterly destroyed Appalachia. Most recently, the West Virginia Legislature, under Republican Leadership, has reinvigorated the economy by cutting taxes, slashing regulations, and providing incentives for businesses to locate within the state.
There is not a more unforgivable action by politicians than to betray the very people who elect them to the positions they occupy.