I am a liberal in a conservative state that I love. I accept that; in fact, I embrace it since I know that change comes from within. The whole “red state/blue state” labeling has irritated me since Tim Russert made it a household phrase in the 2000 election cycle. I think that labeling system oversimplifies and stereotypes the complex and diverse populations of each state. Those smug and cutesy “I am a blue dot in a red state” car decals nauseate me.
But I am constantly being reminded that I am in a supposedly solid red state. In next week’s midterm elections, the Alabama Democrats did not even bother to field a candidate for some key races. I will not cast a vote in those particular races. The Alabama Democrats are presenting a “Democratic” candidate who was recently a Republican (and before that he was a Democrat) for governor. I will not cast a vote in that race either. I don’t vote for Republicans – never have and likely never will, but I can’t in good conscience vote for certain “Democrats” that I can’t trust. The current Alabama Democratic gubernatorial candidate calls to mind “Shorty” Price, a man who was a perennial (and perennially defeated) Alabama candidate back in the 1950s through 1970s. If there’s an election, this guy will be in it.
I still hear people who pompously declare that they “vote for the candidate, not the party.” That sounds like a noble position and I used to pay lip service to that notion. But now I think the candidate has made a conscious decision which party to affiliate with and if the affiliation is with a party that consistently stands for things that I disagree with or abhor then I have to question the integrity and wisdom of the choice.
Some candidates switch parties for political expediency; that’s certainly not somebody I want to support. If politicians switch parties because that is the only way they think they can get elected in their state or district, then I have to question their convictions and fitness for elective office to begin with. Politics is a game to career politicians, but I can’t forget that their actions or lack thereof affect real people.
Political advertising in Alabama is as troublesome as it is throughout the nation as the candidates strive to divide us rather than unite us and keep fighting moot battles for political gain. In Alabama, local ads and politicians seem to be competing to see who can use the word “conservative” most often. I personally have strong “family values” but I’m not sure that the “family values” extolled by the local candidates are in keeping with my personal definition of the term.
My conservative mother surprised me in the spring during primary season when she said, “It must be frustrating to be a liberal in Alabama. It must feel like nobody wants your vote.” That’s true. I’ve developed a thick skin. I’ve gotten used to local Democrats who feel they have to brandish a firearm to get elected.
When it was announced earlier this year that Birmingham is a finalist for the 2016 Democratic National Convention, I was impressed with what a smart choice that could be for the party. It would show a confidence and aggressiveness that the Democratic Party seems to be lacking of late – sort of like when the Southern Baptists decided to have their national conference in Salt Lake City a few years back. True enough, Alabama generally goes Republican in presidential elections, but Birmingham is a Democratic city and the statement the DNC would be making in choosing Birmingham would be one of the more progressive and intelligent moves that party has made in a while. I don’t expect it to happen because, truth be told, I’m not too thrilled with the Democrats these days either.
In the meantime, I will continue to be amused and confounded by political advertising and politicians and I will continue to vote my conscience and values. To steal (liberally and loosely) from Faulkner, I shall continue to endure until the day I once again prevail.