A Glimmer of Hope for Alabama

Middle Daughter is taking some well-deserved R&R after her amazing work for Democratic candidates in New Hampshire this fall, and, as she is the queen of cheap travel, she found an affordable ticket to Paris, flying out of New Orleans, of course, because it’s less expensive that way. This morning we stopped by Crestwood Coffee for a quick breakfast before heading to the train station.

aldemocraticreformcaucusforwardalabamaWhile we were there, we ran into a friend who has been fighting the good fight in Alabama for years. He works with Forward Alabama and the Alabama Democratic Reform Caucus, two organizations that are committed to restoring the Democratic party to viability in this state. I can’t imagine another job that would result in more bruises on the forehead.

alabamademocraticpartyAlabama Democratic Party Chair and Co-Chair, Nancy Worley and Joe Reed, are, inexplicably, more interested in maintaining their own power than in getting Democrats on the Alabama ballot, much less elected. Kyle Whitmire wrote eloquently about this issue in October, before the world fell apart:

If ever there was a moment for Alabama Democrats to take advantage of the other team’s self-destruction, this was it. And not just because the national Republican Party nominated a psychopath bent on burning it all down. In some alternate universe where the Laws of Political Physics apply, the Alabama GOP should be dead of at least three self-inflicted wounds.

Former Alabama House Speaker Mike Hubbard is going to prison.

Any minute now, acting Alabama Chief Justice Lyn Stuart will dump Roy Moore’s personal belongings in a box on the Dexter Avenue¬†sidewalk.

And Gov. Robert Bentley? His reputation is so screwed up, he’s using Trump’s locker-room-talk/sexual-assault-confession to make himself look better. No, really. He is.

This should be the Alabama Democratic Party’s moment, but as Benjamin Franklin and every high school football coach ever said, “If you fail to prepare, you prepare to fail.”

The Alabama Democratic Party couldn’t be more prepared to fail if it stocked a doomsday bunker with Limburger cheese and brown bananas…

…Worley is nominally in charge as chairwoman. Her signature accomplishment has been describing how she got stuck on the toilet¬†— in her annual holiday letter to party supporters. Anyone familiar with the Alabama Democratic Party knows that Reed really runs the show. On the state executive committee, he has strung together a symphony of sycophants and coterie of co-conspirators to keep anyone he doesn’t like out of the party.

Realistically, the Alabama Republican Party leadership could probably do the same and still win, but the Democrats forfeit by not even putting alternative candidates on the ballot.

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One of the biggest losses in the lost Blues archives is the history of Joe Reed’s campaign against Patricia Todd (D-54) in 2006. Long story short, she won a runoff in her initial election to the state House, and he did everything in his power to overturn the results. She wasn’t beholden to him, and that wasn’t acceptable. She’s one of his few losses and one of the best things to happen to the Alabama legislature. There’s a lesson in that, but the State Democratic Executive Committee has yet to learn it, perhaps because Reed likes to punish people who go against him (I distinctly recall one SDEC member losing her position for daring to go against him in 2006, but I can’t find the link).

House Minority Leader Craig Ford (D-28) encouraged Worley and Reed to resign for the good of the party, and he’s right – they need to go. The party leadership has allowed itself to be sidelined. The statement Nancy Worley released after Donald Trump’s election win was a joke. Her response to Craig Ford was to call him racist and sexist, and while there’s plenty of racism and sexism to be found in Alabama, pointing out that she and Reed have failed to do their jobs is just recognizing reality – a reality they refuse to grasp.

So I celebrate my friend’s commitment to changing the party in Alabama. The ADRC is even now recruiting candidates for local and statewide office and providing them with support and training. A combination of health issues and sheer frustration made me give up on Alabama politics a few years ago, but seeing him in action gives me hope. After all, there’s nowhere to go but up.

Reaching Out to the Working Class

Since the election, there have been many pundits spending many words explaining why the Democrats lost, and what we should do going forward. I won’t link, but they’re not hard to find. Many of them claim Democrats failed to reach out to the “working class”, as if said class is a Republican monolith that can only be persuaded, with great difficulty, to vote for Democratic candidates. Unfortunately, I haven’t seen much in the way of recommendations as to what “we” should say when reaching out to “them”, which led me to rant in a friend’s Facebook comments yesterday. As it is the day before Thanksgiving and family is here, I’ll recycle and reuse. Hey, it’s good for the environment!

I’m about worn out with these pundits telling Democrats that we’re big ol’ losers and out of touch and should be reaching out to the “working class”, however they define it. It’s usually limited to white people who vote Republican, which is ridiculous.

Hillary Clinton won the popular vote by 2 million and counting. While that doesn’t matter with regard to who will be president (unless an investigation proves vote tampering), it certainly shows that Donald Trump doesn’t have a mandate. And while these guys are telling us to reach out to the working class, how about they tell us what they think we should say? Should we lie, like Trump, and tell them we’ll bring back manufacturing and mining jobs? That might work in the short term, but it’s not a viable long term strategy, and it’s not one I would support.

Should we tell them the truth that those jobs aren’t coming back and we should be looking to develop, for instance, more renewable energy? That would be great for the economy and the environment, but Congressional Republicans (and some Democrats) aren’t going to go against the traditional industry lobbies. They won’t even admit that climate change is a looming disaster. So, once again, promises will be broken.

Conservatives have, for decades, pitted working class white people against people of color, defining them as a threat to all that’s good in order to get votes. Surely Democrats aren’t going to adopt that strategy. So what exactly is it we’re supposed to do?

Clearly real conversation is in order, but I have no idea how to facilitate it. Suggestions?