The tipping point is the critical point in an evolving situation that leads to a new and irreversible development. The term is said to have originated in the field of epidemiology: when an infectious disease reaches a point beyond any local ability to control it from spreading more widely. A tipping point is often considered to be a turning point. Or, in the case of my independent bid for Congress in West Virginia’s Second Congressional District, the tipping point is imminent because a critical mass among the voters has been reached.
If I have learned anything from people while campaigning and crisscrossing the district, it is this: voters have reached a critical threshold in their charity for entrenched politicians, both Democrat and Republican. What is more, they are on the verge of rejecting them out of disgust, in large part, for their mindless, numbing and perpetual subservience to giant foreign corporations responsible for destroying our magnificent hills and turning our communities into sacrifice zones.
Mountaintop removal has devastated 500 mountains, all of them in West Virginia. And hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking,” threatens the air we breathe, the water we drink, the communities we love and the climate on which we all depend. Accordingly, in the words of Howard Beale, a character in the satirical film Network, voters I meet are yelling, “I’m mad as hell and I’m not gonna take this anymore!”
Just how “mad” the voters are can be seen in a recent poll that gives me an astonishing 10 percent of the vote in a three-way race with the parochial Democrat Nick Casey and the stranger to West Virginia, Republican Alex Mooney. My slice of the vote is astonishing because both Casey and Mooney, beholden to Big Coal and the “frackers,” are spending millions in corporate money to garner votes while I depend on small donations from individual citizens to help me win. In the coming weeks, political analysts predict my share of the vote will increase dramatically.
In the meantime, the Democratic Party hierarchy, fearful of the rising tide of revulsion among the voters, is raising the tired, old argument that a vote for me will spoil the election and give it to Mooney. That argument worked in the past. But it will fail this time. This is the year of independent resurgence in which people are rejecting the failed policies of traditional parties and their corporate sponsors. I refer you to your next-door neighbor, Virginia, where an anonymous Brat bested an unconquerable Cantor. After beating Cantor like a rented mule, Brat said this: “Dollars don’t vote. You do.”
If Tea Party, carpetbagger Mooney and crypto-Republican Casey are depending on dollars to elect them this time around, they may be in for a surprise. The surprise could be the people and populism – both opaque to those who are used to having it their own way at the expense of the voters. In other words, they are flunking the butterfly test.
In chaos theory, the small flap of a butterfly’s wings, in time, leads to unexpected and unpredictable results. Very tiny errors in initial measurements can yield enormous unpredictability, far out of proportion with what would be expected mathematically. By thinking, wrongly, that the voters are predictable and that they can be taken for granted, my opponents are in for a rude awakening. We are at the tipping point.
— A native West Virginian and veteran CBS and NBC news correspondent, Ed Rabel is running as an independent for the Second Congressional District