Elizabeth Warren visited Kermit, West Virginia this morning. I just got back from the rally. Kermit is on the WV/KY border, a long way from anywhere you would want to be. (See Joan Carter’s diary for a more impartial report.)
Elizabeth was amazing. She stood in the middle of a group of several hundred people and reached out to all of us. She tied her personal story of growing up poor into the issue of dealing with places like WV that have been devastated by greed. Then she talked about how a tax of 2 cents on the dollar on fortunes over $50,000,000 could pay for the plan she and Representative Elijah Cummings just introduced to deal with the opioid crisis. Also student debt and a half dozen other things, with a trillion dollars left over.
She and her staff had done their homework. One of the biggest applauses came when she said the opioid relief money would be coming directly to the local areas. The WV state government has been sitting on federal relief money for the devastating floods of 2016. The Justice administration apparently doesn’t want it to go out until they figure out how to embezzle their customary share.
Another applause line was about billionaires not paying their fair share. Jim Justice’s companies owe millions in worker safety fines that have been ignoring for years.
She stayed to have pictures taken with everyone who wanted one (or several). The line stretched out of the fire station and across the parking lot. There was a guy in a MAGA hat right behind us. Stephanie asked him if it was a Trump hat and he said yes. She asked him why he was in line and he seemed confused- there seemed to be no contradiction to him to be enthusiastic about Elizabeth.
There was a little contingent of Republican protesters, including their state chair. The chap below was hanging out with them and giving out a Patriotic Front flyer he had just printed at the local library. He readily agreed to let us take his picture and a closeup of the flyer (which I will not include).
On the way home we talked about the opioid crisis and its effect on our people. Don’t ever have an extended talk with a social worker working for Child Protective Services about the effects of the opioid crisis. None of the rest of us are going to sleep well tonight.
The most important thing I think Senator Warren gets is that the opioid crisis is not fundamentally about addiction. It is about greed, poverty, neglect, despair, and the criminalization of a medical problem. We will never be able to eliminate it with more cops and more arrests (although perp-walking a few Sacklers and other pill-pushing executives might help). We need to claw back the money from the greedy pushers who promoted the drugs and we need to provide help and hope to the victims. Her plan is a step in the right direction along a difficult path.