|Alabama state capitol.|
Ironically, on the same day that U.S. News published a ranking of the best and worse states to live in in the USA based on a number of criteria (the list factored in states’ health care, education, economy, infrastructure, public safety, opportunity and the fiscal stability of its state government, among other factors) with Alabama ranking second from the worse with the worse education system (Louisiana took last place and Mississippi was second from the bottom), the Alabama legislature enacted and the governor signed into law a bill that bans almost all abortions, even in instances of rape and incest. Under existing U.S. Supreme Court rulings, the law is unconstitutional and is guaranteed to be challenged in the courts. Meanwhile, Alabama has further demonstrated its extremism that, in my view, tracks directly to the Christofascist take over of the Republican Party. The result? Even fewer businesses will consider locating to the state and there will be an even worse drain of the best and brightest from the state.
I lived in Alabama years ago and the state was not this extreme. Indeed, I barely recognize how insane it has become politically. While some will blame the extreme legislation on inherent aspects of Alabama, the real root cause is the GOP which has become a sectarian party controlled by right wing Christian extremists. Indeed, the Virginia GOP is not much better and in rural parts of Virginia controlled by the GOP, the same religious and cultural extremism predominates. There's a reason Southwest Virginia is an economic basket case: its the inhabitants and the politicians they elect. An op-ed in the Alabama Political Reporter that a former classmate noted looks at the problem with Alabama and puts the problem at the feet of the voters who continue to elect extremists and vote against their own best interests. Here are highlights:
This is who we are. We are the state that just told rape victims they have to carry their rape babies to term. We are the state that just told pre-teen girls that they have to carry their incest babies to term. This is who we are.
Stop telling me otherwise. Please. I’m sick of hearing that “Alabama is better than this.” Or that “the good people of Alabama won’t stand for this.” It’s not and they do. All the time. It’s time to face the facts. It’s not the Legislature. It’s not the governor. It’s not Alabama’s politicians. It’s the voters. The people. They’re the problem in this state.
Every year, these conservative politicians roll into Montgomery and do incredibly embarrassing things. They push racist bills and insane gun legislation. They deny the rights of gay and transgender people. They suck money away from education and into their own pockets. And when election time rolls around, the voters send them all right back to do it all over again.
Mostly because those politicians promise to do that embarrassing nonsense — to keep the liberals away from your guns, to put the “thugs” in their place, to keep the gays away from your daughter in the public bathrooms and to put your money to work for the state.
And always, always always to protect the life of the unborn. (To hell with the born, of course.) The people of Alabama line up to vote for them.
And why not? Isn’t life here grand for the working class? Don’t we have some of the lowest wages in the nation? Don’t we have some of the worst schools? Don’t we have the nation’s worst health care system? Don’t we have some of the worst infrastructure? Don’t we have some of the worst pollution?
You’d think that after 150 years of basing their votes on religion and hate instead of self-interest, some of those voters would take a look around. That large groups would get tired of being played for absolute fools by some of the worst con men to walk the planet. But they never, ever do.
Last November, in the midterms, I pointed out that Republican candidates literally had no plans to govern. I was specific. I directed everyone to their websites and social media, quoted them from debates, and then I compared them to their Democratic counterparts. Didn’t matter.
Because that’s not what the majority of the people in this state care about. They don’t care about what’s right or who can best solve the state’s problems. They care about their team, and about what their friends and neighbors might think of them if they suddenly began thinking for themselves.
In any other context, if I told the voters of this state that a man was preventing a 12-year-old from aborting the baby fathered by her uncle, they would be angry at that man. But put it in the context of politics and they’re lining up to vote for the goober.
In the past few years, when they weren’t being sent to prison for one felony or another, Alabama Republicans have attacked Hispanics, blacks, gays, blacks, transgender people, blacks, teachers, anyone who practices a religion other than Christianity and blacks. And now, girls and women.
Their hateful bills have been ripped to shreds by federal courts and they have managed to drive away potential businesses looking to relocate to Alabama. Not to mention, the poor management of this state has deterred our best and brightest from sticking around and has driven a number of businesses out of the state.
All of that has not cost Republicans a single vote in this state. In fact, in those midterms I spoke about, the Republicans without a plan — running on nothing but hate and religion — gained seats in the Alabama Legislature.
Stop telling me we’re better than this. We’re not.
Frighteningly, if Republicans held the Governor's mansion in Virginia and a strong majority in both houses of the General Assembly, this type of insane legislation would be passed into law here as well. If you find this extreme legislation horrible, vote Democrat in November in the Virginia 2019 elections.