Yesterday, May 8th, was election day in several states, including West Virginia. Being the political junkie that I am, I followed a lot of the local races closely. None of the races were more intriguing to me, however, than the Republican Primary for West Virginia’s Senate seat. The Republican race was an intense contest to decide who would challenge incumbent Democratic Senator Joe Manchin, who won his respective primary by a much thinner margin than I had initially anticipated. The most noteworthy and legitimate candidates in the Republican primary were West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey and Congressman Evan Jenkins. The candidate who drew the most buzz, however, was former coal executive Don Blankenship. You might remember him from his trial and subsequent conviction for his role in the death of 29 miners in one of his mines. I could go on and on about the subject, but suffice it to say that Don Blankenship is an absolutely despicable human being in every sense of the word. With that being said, his campaign did result in the world now having the perfect example of what an awful political ad really is. As soon as I saw it, I knew I had to write about it.
I will now, in chronological order, break down everything wrong with this ad. The very first part of the ad is Don Blankenship stating his name, as well as the fact that he approves the following message. This is pretty standard stuff, but there is an immediate cut to him talking. The redundancy of saying you approve of a message you are literally delivering yourself is simply too ridiculous not to point out. The actual substance of the ad begins when Blankenship attacks Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. Generally speaking, I don’t think calling one of the de facto leaders of the party whose nomination you’re seeking a “swamp captain” is a very good idea. Blankenship then proceeds to say that McConnell has created a significant amount of jobs for “Chinapeople”. This was the cause of great controversy because of its racially inciting nature. At the very least, the term had negative racial undertones and should have immediately disqualified his candidacy. Blankenship throws in a nice little rhyme after that, in what I can only imagine was a horrible attempt to mask his racism. No matter how good of a ring “Mitch has gotten rich” has to it, rhyming has never been a successful camouflage for bigotry. Blankenship continues to attack McConnell, whom it is important to remember, has a wife of Chinese descent, for taking large contributions from his “China Family”. Furthermore, Blankenship points out that negative ads are being run against him. In what should come as a shock to absolutely no one, Blankenship blames McConnell for this as well. What really surprised me what that Blankenship literally repeats every criticism of him that these ads portray. All that does is draw attention to what people think is wrong with you. I can’t even begin to explain how bad of an idea this is politically. It’s literally Politics 101. I would love to meet whoever his advisors were that thought this was a good idea. He then, while still maintaining the cold and emotionless demeanor he has portrayed throughout the whole ad, declares a “war” to “drain the swamp” and create jobs for “West Virginia people”. Channeling Trump with the swamp reference makes sense, seeing as how Blankenship has already exposed himself as a Trump-like candidate. I also feel that the phrase “West Virginia people” says a lot about Blankenship. The wording gives a sense of Blankenship not seeing West Virginians as “his” people, in the sense that he doesn’t see himself as an actual West Virginian. This is actually fitting, considering Blankenship resides in a Las Vegas mansion for a large amount of the year. Not identifying with those you aim to represent isn’t a part of any sensible political strategy I’ve ever heard of. Blankenship closes the ad with a scene of him holding two children, which I presume to be his own (although given his still emotionless demeanor, I’m absolutely not confident in saying they aren’t two random children). Blankenship finishes by declaring that he will “beat Joe Manchin and ditch Cocaine Mitch for the sake of the children”.
Clearly, he should have spent more time worrying about the other Republicans in the primary instead of Joe Manchin, as Blankenship finished third and will not have the opportunity to face Manchin. As someone who avidly follows politics, I am confident in saying that this is the absolute worst campaign ad from a serious factor in any election that I have ever seen. This ad certainly had a negative effect on Blankenship’s candidacy. I will finish this piece by pointing out one shocking fact. After the airing of this ad, and despite all of these fallacies, Don Blankenship still received 27,153 votes. 20% of voters in the Republican Primary voted for a convicted criminal who was, at the very least, partially responsible for the death of 29 miners. That is the saddest part of everything I just pointed out. Let that disheartening fact sit in the back of your mind the next time you’re deciding who to vote for.
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