Monday, March 5, 2012

Charleston Gambling: the Wrong War At the Wrong Place At the Wrong Time

Disagreeing with my conservative brethren publicly does not fill me with happy thoughts, especially when it comes to a major party position, but sometimes it must be done.

I cannot fathom why the state Republican Party has selected this time and place to mount a major assault on table gaming at the Mardi Gras casino in Kanawha County.

A much more eloquent pundit than I, Don Surber, has emphasized repeatedly that this election in the Year of Our Lord 2012 must be about the economy. We must target jobs. We must target inflation. We must target the Democratic Party as a whole with its unwillingness to address either one of these issues with a real plan that does not collapse the economy in 2027.

In the Mountain State, we must focus on creating a plan for more aggressive taxation reduction and deregulation. The business and residents that we can steal from "tax and regulate until it dies" Maryland alone can pay for the costs. The state Republican Party needs to articulate a tangible and concrete vision on the economy, then hammer it home.

Republicans also must establish alliances with young independents. Give these people credit, they came out of a school system built to teach milquetoast socialism with a hardened belief in liberty. They support Ron Paul and are suspicious of government regulation of personal choices. They fear Obama, but do not trust the Grand Old Party, either. Most of them are socially conservative on some important issues, such as abortion, but libertarian on strict personal choice matters.

We need these people on our side, not on the sidelines.

That makes the fight against table games at the Mardi Gras casino somewhat baffling. Perhaps it did not live up to inflated expectations that it helped to set. Taking on its privilege to do business on these points may be the correct action.

The problem is that this should not have been undertaken by the state Republican Party. State party leaders need to concentrate on an economic plan that creates job growth. Average voters will wonder why the party promises job growth while trying to shut off a business. Young libertarian-minded individuals will wonder why the party talks about liberty, but goes on a crusade over gambling.

If the party succeeds in Kanawha County, this might rattle voters in Jefferson County and other areas that have casino gambling. We need these critical areas if we have any shot at winning statewide races this fall.

The West Virginia Conservative Foundation, which has apparently not uttered a peep since last November, should take the lead role in these kinds of actions. It can advance whatever for of conservative agenda it wishes while the West Virginia Republican Party remains free to focus on the task at hand, winning in 2012.

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