By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter
In a lot of ways this legislative session has produced a lot of talking points that could potentially be of benefit politically for Alabama Democrats. The passage of the Alabama Accountability Act has the potential to fire up and motivate public school employees as well as people who are emotionally invested in their local public schools to come out and vote against Republican incumbents.
Republicans catering to their pro-Life base could potentially motivate social moderates (particularly women) to vote for Alabama Democrats. Governor Bentley and Marsh’s law enforcement consolidation and state government reforms plans likely will cause some dissatisfaction amongst the people affected by those reforms. Gov. Bentley’s refusal to expand Medicaid potentially is an issue for both people in the Alabama Healthcare industry and low income voters who potentially could benefit from the free healthcare promised to them by Obamacare. Alabama Attorney General Luther Strange’s closing of Victoryland could motivate pro-gambling voters to come to the polls for the Democrats in 2014. There are a lot of questions about the ethics of the financial dealings surrounding the Speaker of the House and former Republican Party Chairman Mike Hubbard (R) from Auburn. Whether or not he and the political operatives around him are ever indicted for anything, Democratic Party operatives will attempt to spin those stories in a way that will suppress conservative turnout and appeal to swing White voters. That may be wishful thinking on the part of Alabama Democrats, but that is the tale that they are spinning to their supporters and donors.
All those fantasies of a Alabama Democratic Party resurgence suffered an unexpected setback today when Alabama State Representative Joseph Mitchell (D) from Mobile unleashed an email tirade attacking the White people of Alabama.
Representative Mitchell actually wrote in an email to a Second Amendment supporter, “Your folk never used all this sheit (sic) to protect my folk from your slave-holding, murdering, adulterous, baby-raping, incestuous, snaggle-toothed, backward-a**ed, inbreed, imported criminal-minded kin folk. You can keep sending me stuff like you have however because it helps me explain to my constituents why they should protect that 2nd amendment thing AFTER we finish stocking up on spare parts, munitions and the like.”
An elected leader of the state actually talking openly about a race war is bizarre enough, but when you add the racially charged over the top language to it this had to be the worst day for Alabama Democrats since they lost both houses of the legislature and every statewide race on the ballot in the 2010 election.
Rep. Mitchell was first elected in 1994 and the Black Democrat has rarely even been present in this session but the harsh rhetoric which he has refused to back down from or apologize for is potentially inflammatory and both sides know it.
The minority leader of the Alabama House, Representative Craig Ford (D) from Gadsden said, “I could not disagree more with what Rep. Mitchell said. I assure you that Joseph Mitchell does not speak for Democrats or anyone else other than himself.”
Republican Party Chairman Bill Armistead said, “Rep. Mitchell’s response was nothing short of the rant of a seemingly ‘wild man’ and is appalling to come from an elected official from the State of Alabama. There is no place in civil discourse for phrases such as the ones used by Rep. Mitchell.”
Chairman Armistead said, “I call on Judge Kennedy for a swift and public apology for this tirade on the part of one of his Democrat members of the Alabama House of Representatives. Judge Kennedy should immediately rebuke Rep. Mitchell for this malicious email. If Judge Kennedy refuses to address this issue, it will send a message to voters that the Democrat Party here in Alabama is fine with that type of race baiting language.”
Rep. Joseph Mitchell represents a safe Democratic majority minority district. It would be difficult for a White liberal Democrat to unseat him next year and almost impossible for a White Republican to do so, so he can safely lob insults at White voters, the U.S. Constitution, the Founding Fathers, White legislators, and anybody else he dislikes; but for the Democratic Party to have any real power in this state it has to reach out to White socially liberal voters in the suburbs and rural White voters in the small towns of Alabama. Hate speech directed at those people and their kin might play well in districts that are 80% Black and overwhelmingly Democratic. However it also sends a clear message all over the state that Whites are not only no longer wanted in the Alabama Democratic Party but are openly despised by some in their party. If Mitchell’s message resonates with White voters it would be devastating for any hope that Democrats may still have of being relevant in this state in this century.