By Minority Leader Rep. Craig Ford
“You can’t work across party lines when there aren’t many of them. So I’m going to work across Republican Party lines because there are a lot of divisions in the Republican Party.”
-Gov. Robert Bentley
I was very disappointed when I read this quote from the governor earlier this week. Partisanship is a part of politics. And it’s no secret that Democrats lost seats in the election. But if the governor wants to build a coalition to pass his legislation, he will need support from House and Senate Democrats, not just a faction of Republicans.
I truly hope the governor just chose his words poorly when he said that, because his words imply that he has no interest in working with Democrats, and that would mean he has no interest in the people we represent.
Gov. Bentley and I have known each other a long time. I have always considered him to be a good friend and an honorable man. That is why I hope that the governor simply chose his words poorly, and intends to continue to work with Democrats on an agenda that is in the people’s best interests.
Politics throughout the country has become too partisan. Yes, we need to have competing philosophies. But we also have to remember that before we are Democrats or Republicans we are Americans. And as elected officials, our duty is to reach across the aisle and find solutions that are in the best interests of the people of Alabama.
Regardless of what the governor meant when he said those words, his comments were disrespectful to Democrats and the people we represent. And this situation makes me realize just how incredibly important it is for Democrats and Republicans to work together, because the only way we can make a better Alabama.
Governor Bentley may be right when he says there are many divisions inside the Republican Party. Internal Republican Party politics are not my concern. My concern is a better state for our citizens, and that can’t happen if the Majority party and the Governor aren’t willing to set aside differences and bridge the gap between themselves and Democrats in the legislature.
Whether Democrats hold 34 percent, 29 percent or 62 percent of seats in the Legislature, we were elected by our constituents to be their voice in Alabama, and it would be morally and politically wrong to simply ignore us.
The people of Alabama spoke and elected the current members of the legislature, including the Democrats. And many of them also voted for the governor! And those voters, regardless of which Party they voted for, are the same people that are counting on ALL elected officials to make policies helping to shape the place they call home.
Working together, working across both parties isn’t just something I want to pay lip service to. It’s something I fundamentally believe in and will continue to work for over the next four years. And I truly hope Gov. Bentley will be there working with me and other Democrats. Because working across party lines is how we are really going to see more job creation, better schools and an actual solution to the current budget crisis.
We can do great things in Alabama, but only if we work together. I hope that is what the governor meant, and that his comments last week were simply chosen poorly.