CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- West Virginians have a brave heritage of fighting for their rights in the face of insurmountable odds. From the Civil War through the mine wars and the march on Blair Mountain, we have shown courage and dogged determination like none other.
Now we are called to recapture the courage of our ancestors and throw off fear and victimhood and stand up for West Virginia and her people by voting for the candidates who are standing up for us.
We cannot allow cynicism to take hold or turn our backs on our heritage. Instead it is time for us to turn our backs on those candidates owned by the out-of-state corporations destroying our land, water and air and turning us into unwitting partners in their crime.
The Charleston Gazette implied in its endorsements of Joe Manchin for U.S. Senate and Earl Ray Tomblin for governor that voters had only Democrats and Republicans on the ballot from which to choose.
Actually, Mountain Party nominees Jesse Johnson, for governor, and Bob Henry Baber, for U.S. Senate, are on the ballot, and they continue to fight for the issues the Gazette once championed.
When the Gazette editorial board endorsed Manchin, a current member and former chairman of the American Legislative Exchange Council, a right-wing organization which is anti-citizens' rights, anti-choice, anti-workers' rights and anti-environment, they turned their back on the once-progressive Gazette under the leadership of Ned Chilton. Gazette, we ask you to honor Ned and his legacy and return to your heritage of endorsing candidates who champion your issues and reflect your core values.
When pro-choice women succumb to fear and vote for anti-choice candidates, they turn their backs on the heroism of the women who were jailed, tortured and who died for equality and the right to vote. Women, remember your courageous heritage and support the Mountain Party nominees Jesse Johnson and Bob Henry Baber, who continue to carry the banner for women and equality for all.
When environmentalists succumb to fear and vote for extractive-industry candidates or do not vote at all, they turn their backs on the courage and determination of West Virginians Larry Gibson, Judy Bond and Laura Forman, who were voices for our mountains, our heritage and our environment until the day they died. Keep their voices alive. Honor their hard work and devotion by voting for Mountain Party nominees Jesse Johnson and Bob Henry Baber, who continue their fight for environmental justice.
When labor endorses Manchin, a former chairman of the union-busting organization ALEC, and other anti-union candidates, they turn their backs on the courage and heritage of the labor movement in West Virginia. They forget those who were moved to action at the Battle of Blair Mountain -- Walter Reuther, of West Virginia; my father, Garnett Pritt, UMW president 1766; and other great union leaders who fought for the rights of workers. Rank and file, honor those who gave their lives for the union and vote for pro-union candidates Jesse Johnson and Bob Henry Baber, who continue to put workers' safety before corporate profits.
West Virginia became a state because slavery was unacceptable to our ancestors. We have a proud heritage of fighting for freedom regardless of the color of skin. Recently, some have become victims of the propaganda spewed by international coal companies about President Obama and regurgitate those lies couched in racism. Others have fallen victim to the extractive corporations who destroy, not only our land, but also the democratic process in West Virginia.
The sour, corporate-dominated broadcast media silence the voice of the people. Like those before us, West Virginians of conscience must stand up! We must remember who we truly are and fight back by voting for those who continue to fight for us!
Pritt, chairwoman of the Mountain Party, was the Democratic nominee for governor in 1996 and is a former state senator and delegate from Kanawha County.