We are pretty sure that teachers and labor unions can defend themselves just fine against the attacks of Senate President Mitch Carmichael who, in recent rants in print and on social media, tore into the American Federation of Teachers, radicals, liberal values, leftist politicians and Democratic socialists – all bent, he wrote, on “trying to destroy our system of government.”
It was hyperbole jacked up on steroids.
While the state attempts an economic recovery, Carmichael – a politician in a powerful position – is knocking the legs out from under whatever remains of decent, honest, political discourse.
But most concerning is this: Carmichael is ripping the very citizens he was elected to represent – yes, that includes teachers – in an “us against them” divisive political strategy that is spreading from D.C. to Charleston to no good effect. That is no road toward prosperity, senator.
Yes, it is an election year. Yes, Carmichael is self-serving, choosing party over state. But, no, his is not a unifying message.
And if this all sounds vaguely familiar, it seems apparent to us that Carmichael is mimicking our commander in chief. If you can’t beat them, beat them up – no matter the pain to progress, humanity or democracy.
Carmichael has had a humbling year. He got bloodied in the bare-knuckle fight with West Virginia teachers who walked out of their classrooms for 11 consecutive school days to protest – loudly – at the Capitol for better pay and benefits.
He even lost on his signature policy idea – free tuition at community colleges – when it stalled and died in the House of Delegates.
Carmichael has been trying to rewrite history ever since, taking credit throughout the summer for the public employee pay raise passed this last session. It’s a laughable notion. Here is what he has said: “In just four years, Republicans have worked with teachers to raise their salaries ... .”
Here is the truth: The public employee pay hike was the first for teachers in four years, and it did not come out of the Senate. Carmichael and his Republican cohorts offered teachers these crumbs: 2 percent the first year, 1 percent in each of the following two years. He said, trust him, it was all the budget would stand.
And then Gov. Jim Justice “found” $58 million to fund a 5 percent pay raise for all public employees.
Yes, that was egg on Carmichael’s face.
Even at that point, while offering only snide and condescending aspersions as to how Justice could have come up with the new numbers, legislative roll call records were clear: The Senate repeatedly tried to stop the pay hike.
Now, the newest bit of propaganda that Carmichael is spreading: West Virginia is enjoying “an economic resurgence ... like never before.”
Clearly, Carmichael has not taken a trip on country roads into the rural recesses of the state. Just this past week, Kroger announced the closing of its store in Smithers, putting nearly 60 people out of work, and Ammar’s, Inc., the parent company of the regional Magic Mart chain, said it would be closing all of its department stores in southern West Virginia.
Not only do we have food deserts here in the southern reaches of the state, we now have an evolving retail lunar landscape.
Both companies said the reason for their decision was simple: Declining sales.
Maybe, just maybe, the reason for Carmichael’s tantrums is that he hears the radicals offering workable and common sense solutions that play well among the general population, on how to fix the state’s economy, health care, education and the opioid overdose epidemic.
Maybe those crazies have an answer on how to stop the outmigration of young people from the state, how to reverse the state’s population decline.
But given Carmichael’s summer of discontent – unbecoming, orchestrated and phony – we suspect he’s been too busy talking to pay attention to anyone, let alone anyone with a contrarian idea that challenges his worldview.
— The Register-Herald