Serious times demand serious leaders. With health care for millions on the line, a drug abuse epidemic plaguing our economy, infrastructure crumbling and a middle class that needs strengthened, these are unquestionably serious times.
But our leadership is far from serious. It is, in a word, chaotic.
After doing the right thing by recusing himself from the investigation into Russian influence in the 2016 election, President Donald Trump’s appointed attorney general, Jeff Sessions, is under attack by the president — who said had he known, he would have picked somebody else for the job.
The Department of Justice should be our country’s pillar of lawfulness, not a pawn in the hand of any sitting president. Truly, every presidential appointment has a mission to serve the country — not to cast truth in judgment aside because of blind loyalty to the person seated in the Oval Office.
But the president, and now his White House staff, are making clear that blind allegiance is the sole determining factor in a person’s job security in this administration.
Take new White House Communications Director Anthony Scaramucci’s bizarre and foul-mouthed rant to a New Yorker reporter who refused to reveal his source for a story. Convinced of leaks in the White House, Scaramucci vowed to fire his staff — and to even get the president’s chief of staff, Reince Preibus, terminated.
Isn’t an attack on the president’s chief of staff an attack on the president himself? Or perhaps it isn’t, in this particular administration, since the President did fire Preibus just days after Scaramucci’s tirade.
All of the confusion, finger-pointing, swirling and tweeting stack up to utter chaos — chaos that will give West Virginians and Americans zero faith in the very top rungs of leadership that should be there to protect and support them.
When repeal of the Affordable Care Act was on the floor of the United States Senate last week, that duty to protect people was held steadfastly by Democrats, especially our own Sen. Joe Manchin, and three brave Republicans — but not by Sen. Shelley Moore Capito.
In an about-face, Capito shifted from saying days before that she “didn’t come to Washington to hurt people,” to voting for a rushed, poorly crafted plan that — had it passed — would have stripped health care from 16 million Americans.
What happened? What changed? She literally closed her door on West Virginians. But her door was wide open for Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who led the charge to increase the ranks of the sick and uninsured — and who, time and again, proves he won’t hesitate to hurt West Virginia.
Our state’s leadership in the Legislature has also been doing a good job of hurting West Virginia. After only three years of Republican leadership in the Legislature, we’re in financial chaos. They couldn’t pass a budget. They couldn’t come up with a path forward to both pay our bills and plan for stronger days ahead.
But Democrats, working with Gov. Jim Justice, crafted legislation to fix our roads, strengthen our infrastructure, create jobs and put West Virginians to work. In these serious times, that is the kind of vision and leadership we need. It’s the kind of leadership West Virginians deserve and should demand.
During a time of historic and definitive turmoil in our country, President Abraham Lincoln said, “Government of the people, by the people, for the people shall not perish from the Earth.”
Today, let us ensure our democracy doesn’t perish at the hands of leaders driven only by chaos.
Belinda Biafore is chairwoman of the West Virginia Democratic Party.