Note: This was originally Ron’s piece, but he wasn’t sure how to finish it, so I took over – Ryan
When the state of Alabama is getting national media attention, it’s for one of two reasons: 1) Some college football pundit has a spicy take about The Crimson Tide 2) One of our state politicians is embarrassing the entire state.
This time, it’s both reasons. But instead of breaking down why every single reason why Ohio State doesn’t deserve a spot in the College Football Playoffs, I’ll devote attention to the latter.
Alabama’s special Senate election is receiving attention I’ve never seen before, well at least in my lifetime. Given what happened in Virginia’s elections a month ago, everyone is aware that a Democratic senator filling Session’s vacancy would be a deathblow to the Trump Administration. While Doug Jones’ chances look very promising, the nation is more focused on the Republican who may fill the seat. None other than former Judge Roy Moore. This is a man who has been proven to be a racist, was removed from his bench twice for not upholding the Constitution, paraded around on stage with a gun, and this was all before he was revealed as a child predator.
While national media attention should be devoted to elevating the voice of the man running opposite of Moore, it’s focused on what people think about Alabama as a whole.
As a native son of this state, I do hate a lot of things about it. I hate vile, old-timey views being masked as Christianity. I hate how little the state cares for The Blackbelt, the region where I was born as raised. Even with all of this, my roots are in this state and I desperately want it to grow. There’s a lot I like. – Ron
We are taking the task of speaking for the progressives of the state. The Forgotten 34%.
The past few weeks, I have seen celebrities or liberal political commentators state how they’re done with Alabama if we elect Moore. Or how we’re a poor, dumb state who doesn’t know any better.
As if we’re the only state in the union with this issue.
And I’m not just talking about Mississippi or Arkansas or any other southern state.
I’m not trying to pick on New York, but that’s the state people in this country think of as a liberal haven, it’s not, at least not the WHOLE thing. Then again, you’d have people who would say “well, those folks in the red counties are insignificant, and THAT’S PART OF THE LARGER ISSUE.
What the Democratic party and its followers outside of major cities fail to realize is that the elitist attitude of our party is what turns so many people off. The belief that where you live determines your intelligence, or that you can simply point to Alabama’s 47th place ranking in public education and use that as a reason that you’re better.
You’re not. You’re disregarding all the reasons why that disparity exists and the other people that it truly affects, not just the people you’re intending to put down. Not to mention alienating the very people that you could be rallying to your side as the GOP continues to show that they care more about the corporations and major businesses than they do about the actual people.
Major media outlets continue to give more airtime to Moore’s supporters as a way to frame them as crazy, completely forgetting that this method is how Trump got free airtime and began to rally his base. The more democrats and major media outlets continue to paint these people as crazy (They are) instead of focusing on the other side (because ratings), the more you’re going to see people become more and more stubborn about their choice to defend and vote for people like Roy Moore. No one wants to be talked down upon or belittled, yet these microaggressions make them feel like just that.
I’ve grown up all across the South, I was born in Tampa, FL; spent my childhood years in Metro Atlanta, went to High School in Memphis, TN before spending my entire adulthood in Alabama (Birmingham and now Huntsville). – Ryan
Take a look at the map above. This map shows the results of the 2016 Presidential election. More importantly, take a look at this blue strip. As you have guessed, this blue strip is the counties Hilary Clinton won. These counties tend to heavily support Democrats. Within this blue strip, you have Linden, Alabama. Linden is the birthplace of civil rights leader Ralph David Abernathy. You have Selma, Alabama, the city where Ralph David Abernathy marched side by side with Martin Luther King, Jr. Also within this blue strip, you have some of the poorest counties in America. Not only are the counties the poorest, but they’re also predominately African American. This makes the correlation of these counties being the focus of voter suppression quite peculiar. Under Alabama’s most recent voting law, a voter must have a valid driver’s license with their current address or a voter ID card. Seems pretty harmless, right? Well 31 DMV offices have closed in this state under former governor Robert Bentley. Eight of these Black Belt counties have closures. This makes it hard to go get that valid driver’s license or Voter ID. If you’re unfamiliar with the Black Belt as a whole, I suggest you read up on it and how it has been neglected for decades upon decades.
But that’s the ugly of Alabama, let’s focus on the positive. That big blue county right above the black belt is Jefferson County. Jefferson County is the home of Birmingham, the city which was under the microscope during the Civil Rights movement. Birmingham was once known as the city where Martin Luther King wrote his infamous letter questioning moderates in America but now it’s one of the South’s most progressive cities. While I strongly believe our state goes as Birmingham goes, I see this rebirth of this city as a case study of the state of Alabama as a whole. Birmingham is far from being a utopia, but the city is focused on erasing its ugly past. It’s home to UAB: a world-renowned Medical Research Center, which is also one of the COUNTRY’s most diverse Universities (as high as No.3 in 2009), and is recognized as one of the 150 best Universities in the WORLD (67th in the US). It’s also the subject of one of the most incredible stories in College Football this year, especially if you know the politics of the situation.
Birmingham elected a new mayor through a true, grassroots movement focused on the people of the city. It features several restaurant, bar and entertainment districts and continues to attract major businesses to come to the city, despite what’s going on around it.
To the north of Birmingham is Huntsville, a major research center, Engineering hub and a NASA Space and Rocket Center and the Redstone Arsenal. Two major universities: UAH (affordable Engineering program ranked 89th in the country) and Alabama A&M, a historic HBCU with strong Agriculture, Engineering and Business programs that has helped countless young men and women make their way into the workforce. It’s a city that is going from red to purple in the last few years and will likely go blue as the Research Center continues to expand. A lot of federal funding has gone into this city and it continues to expand in an impressive rate.
Tuscaloosa is home to a democratic mayor in Walt Maddox (who recently announced a run for Governor) who has held office since 2005. There is a large swath of students at the University of Alabama who are progressive, even though the University does have a history of “The Machine”, you’re starting to see more and more students fight that.
Mobile hosts its own Tier 2 Research institution with a strong Medical School in the University of South Alabama.
Auburn is an Engineering powerhouse.
Alabama has positives and negatives, like any other state.
If the liberal motto of America is “Not my president”, why isn’t that logic applied on a micro scale? Whether it’s the biggest cities in the state or the poorest backwoods of the Black Belt, I’d like to abolish the thought that Alabamians are uneducated voters. People here care. People here have morals. It’s quite lazy to assume the state that’s home to many unsung heroes of the Civil Rights movement is perfectly okay with having someone such as Roy Moore represent them.
If our tone seems petulant, it is. Vice held a panel interviewing Roy Moore supporters. National publications are calling Doug Jones “The opponent of Roy Moore”. What about the forgotten people in this state? The people who want change. Regardless of Tuesday;s outcome, know that we are here and we’re fighting, we just have a long way to go. If you want to help, get loud about the disparities in the poorest parts of the state, gerrymandering, etc., but stop pointing fingers if you’re not going to look in the mirror at your own state’s problems. 60 Million people voted for Donald Trump. That’s not a small, insignificant number by any means, and seeing as Alabama boasts a population 3 million, we’re not the only reason that clown is in office.
Maybe, JUST maybe, there’s a larger issue here and pointing at Alabama isn’t going to fix it.