Sen. Joe Manchin spent much of last week traveling through West Virginia, discussing challenges facing our state and nation with his constituents. It was a chapter in his campaign to focus on difficult choices we in the Mountain State - and other Americans - need to face.
Part of what Manchin, D-W.Va., has emphasized is the absolute necessity that the United States get its financial house in order.
To judge by our state's experience during the past couple of decades - as well as West Virginia voters' rejection of President Barack Obama's tax and spend, spend, spend philosophy - it appears people here have some understanding of the challenge.
But it is a train wreck already in the process of happening to the nation, and one most Americans do not seem to understand.
The brutal truth, as Manchin recognizes, is that the $16.4 trillion national debt now is only a sampling of what is to come. Before Obama leaves office, the debt will total $20 trillion unless something changes drastically.
That will work out to around $65,000 for every man, woman and child in the country.
Already, through lowered credit ratings on U.S. debt, that is affecting us. The situation will deteriorate rapidly, making our paychecks worth less and our economy less able to create jobs.
Good for Manchin, then, for calling attention to the gravity of the situation. But again, West Virginians seem to understand it better than residents of many other states.
Perhaps Manchin needs to take his presentation on the road outside our state.