The excitement and enthusiasm seems to flow from the crowd and thru the social media screens to give even this jaded old man a sense that we might be on the brink of something big.
The newly-sworn governor retold a tale from the campaign that seemed to ring honest and gave me hope he really has "the little people" at heart.
He said the struggle of West Virginians has touched him on a personal level. From underneath the podium, he pulled out a tackle box and an ax, saying he had come across a woman who was selling them, among her only possessions, for money just to get by. “Mister, you don’t have any idea how bad I’m hurting,” Justice said the woman told him. (wvmetronews.com)
He also was brave enough to say firmly that the state can't fix its budget crisis without raising revenue.
“We have got to find a way to raise revenue,” he said. “We cannot continue to just kick the can down the road and drain more of the Rainy Day because we’re not going to go anywhere.”
Justice promised on the campaign trail he would not raise taxes on West Virginians, but during his address, said he was open to any new idea to tackle the problem. (WVpublic.org)
He directly addressed both majority and minority leaders in the House and Senate to set aside partisanship and work for the best of the state.
That's a heavy lift in the highly partisan climate of our state legislature. But somehow, Justice gave me a sense he may be the guy to pull it off.
Education, infrastructure, and drugs are all on Justice' priority list as well. But we'll need to wait for February 8 to get details in his first state of the state speech.
I still worry that WV's richest man will find government a more complicated needle to thread than his private businesses. He can't just say "make it so" and it will be done. He and his team need to wrangle support and votes.
And any big dream is easier when you have a billion in the bank rather than a budget in the red.
I've been a Justice skeptic and I'll still wait and see. But today's pomp and ceremony, excitement and applause coupled with some of the new Governor's own words are giving me a little sense of hope.
“We can do it,” Justice said at the conclusion of his speech. “We will do it. It’s time for us to claim our place. It is truly West Virginia’s time.”
In these perilous political times, I'll take a single day with a little ray of hope.