Wikinews interviews Don Blankenship, U.S. Constitution Party presidential nominee

Monday, October 19, 2020

Don Blankenship
Image: Brianhayden1980.

Businessman Don Blankenship of West Virginia, the U.S. Constitution Party's 2020 presidential nominee, answered some questions about his campaign from Wikinews accredited reporter William S. Saturn.

Blankenship, reportedly nicknamed the "king of coal", was chairman and CEO of Massey Energy from 2000 to 2010. During his tenure, the 2010 Upper Big Branch Mine disaster occurred, which resulted in the deaths of 29 miners. A jury convicted Blankenship of misdemeanor conspiracy to violate safety standards willfully, and he received a one year prison sentence in 2016. He maintains his innocence and blames federal regulators for the disaster. After his release from prison, Blankenship ran unsuccessfully for the Republican Party's US Senate nomination in West Virginia. He subsequently sought the Constitution Party's nomination for President. At the virtual 2020 Constitution Party National Convention this past May, Blankenship won the party's nomination on the second ballot. He selected Michigan Taxpayers Party chairman William Mohr as his running mate. Mohr spoke about Blankenship with Wikinews in June, describing him as "a good man with vast knowledge in the political field [who] stands firm on his positions, aligns well with the party platform and has an abundance of ability to lead this nation in the direction it needs to go." Mohr lauded Blankenship's "ability to influence leaders around him" and claimed the nominee "has a backbone superior to most men and will be the strongest President we have seen in decades."

The Constitution Party was founded in 1991 as the U.S. Taxpayers Party. It changed to its current name in 1999. The party advocates states' rights, gun rights, limited government, protectionism, and non-interventionism. It strongly opposes abortion and illegal immigration. In 2016, the party's presidential nominee Darrell Castle received 203,091 votes (0.15 percent) with ballot access in 24 states. The Blankenship-Mohr ticket is on the ballot in 18 states with write-in access in a few others.

With Wikinews, Blankenship discussed his background, the COVID-19 pandemic and its effect on his campaign, what a Blankenship presidency would entail, and policy matters. Additionally, he delivered his final plea to voters ahead of Election Day.


Background & leadership

President George Washington.
Image: Gilbert Stuart.

 ((WSS )) : Which past U.S. president(s) do you most admire and why?

Blankenship: George Washington.  Put his life where his mouth was.

 ((WSS )) : How have your past experiences prepared you for the job of President?

Blankenship: I have dealt with the government and know its flaws. I have been poor. Rich. In federal prison. Defamed. And I have beat the evil of the establishment over and over.  I know what we need to do if we are [to] save America from the politicians.

 ((WSS )) : How would you describe your style of leadership? How does it compare to the leadership styles of President Donald Trump and former President Barack Obama?

Blankenship: My leadership is based on truth and conviction. I set the example by standing for what is right when what is right is not popular.
[Neither] Trump nor Obama are leaders. They are misleaders.

Coronavirus pandemic & campaigning

 ((WSS )) : If you were president, how would you have handled the coronavirus pandemic differently than President Trump?

Blankenship: I would have insisted that those with symptoms be quarantined. I would have protected the elderly and allowed the youthful strong to work.

 ((WSS )) : How has the pandemic affected your campaign and your ability to reach out to voters?

Blankenship: The pandemic greatly limited our opportunity to gain ballot access. It is hard to get petition signatures when you cannot get within six feet of someone.

 ((WSS )) : In 2016, Constitution Party presidential nominee Darrell Castle received 203,091 votes, a record for the party. Based on your general feeling on the ground, about how many votes do you expect to receive in the 2020 election?

Blankenship: We should do some better. But were we on the ballot in West Virginia, Virginia, Ohio, and Pennsylvania; we would have gotten twice the votes we will now get.

Blankenship presidency

 ((WSS )) : What would a Blankenship administration look like? Which specific individuals would you ask to be in your cabinet?

Blankenship: It would look smaller as we would have fewer cabinet positions. The cabinet would be made up of individuals who have not worked in government before but rather individuals from outside DC who have had to reckon with the government.

 ((WSS )) : Who would you nominate to the Supreme Court? Would you apply any litmus tests? Should the number of justices remain at nine?

Blankenship: Constitutional loyal judges.  The only litmus test would be whether their prior decisions were based in law or politics.  

 ((WSS )) : As president, how would you work with Congress to avoid gridlock and pass your agenda?

Blankenship: Common sense pressure. No drama allowed. No hyperbole allowed. Facts not fantasy.


 ((WSS )) : What should be done, from the government's perspective, to combat global climate change?

Blankenship: Nothing.  Our country has much more pressing and certain challenges than climate change.  We need to save America before we engage in preventing a half degree increase in temperature in the next century.  

 ((WSS )) : What are your views on the conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan? What would you do as president to help resolve the conflict and how does that comport with your overarching philosophy on foreign affairs?

Blankenship: We need to stop policing the world and allow other countries to manage their own affairs. We need to withdraw our troops from all but a very few foreign countries. Armenia and Azerbaijan should be given the freedom to solve their own issues.

 ((WSS )) : Are you concerned about the deplatforming and social media censorship of notable conservatives and libertarians? How would you address this issue as president?

Blankenship: Free speech has to be fully protected unless it endangers others or is clearly defamatory. Social media platforms should be just that. They provide electronic assembly of the people. They enable what the Constitution calls freedom of assembly.
There should be no censoring other than profane and similar talk.

 ((WSS )) : What can you do, as president, to improve race relations in the United States?

Blankenship: Stop granting "privileges" to one race which impede on the "rights" of another race. Equalize education but by neighborhood not by race. Recognize that there are more poor white people than black people. Accept that the problem is mostly a black issue not a race issue. Use facts, not drama and rhetoric, as the basis for action. End illegal immigration.

Final plea

 ((WSS )) : Election Day is quickly approaching and early voting has already started in some states. What is your final plea to voters?

John F. Kennedy at his inauguration: "Ask not what your country can do for you—ask what you can do for your country."
Image: CWO Donald Mingfield.
Blankenship: My final plea to voters is to understand that all your rights, your American way of life, your medical care, and your kids' future depend on America's survival. [President John F.] Kennedy's words are critical if we are to remain a bastion of freedom: "Ask not what your country can do for you — ask what you can do for your country."


This exclusive interview features first-hand journalism by a Wikinews reporter. See the collaboration page for more details.