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Rural leadership isn’t playing politics or playing the victim—We’re standing up for our communities

Darrio Melton

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By Rep. Darrio Melton 

Twentieth Century author Eric Hoffer once pointed out an illogical truth about humans: “People who bite the hand that feeds them usually lick the boot that kicks them.”

Such is true with the duality of our political perceptions in Alabama: we lament the Federal government’s role while holding out our hand for more than $3 returned to our state for every dollar we send to Washington DC.

We talk about “welfare queens” and support legislation to cut food stamps for our neediest children, yet we never discuss the $13 billion in food stamp dollars that goes back into WalMart’s coffers as it pays employees poverty-level wages that forces them to live off assistance programs in the first place.

We talk about hard work and the American Dream, yet we look down on working men and women doing what many believe to be menial jobs and we cut education funding so that children have fewer opportunities to rise to the top.

In Alabama, we do a lot of biting the hand that feeds us–we turn our noses up at the very programs, opportunities, and values that sustain our state while licking the boot that kicks us–looking to Conservative solutions for non-partisan problems.

That’s why Governor Bentley is so confused that Democrats and rural Republicans are standing up against his absurd tax package that only takes more money out of the pockets of working men and women.  He’s trying to play politics, expecting Black Belt leadership to bend over and lick the boot that has kicked us for so long–so again I say, “No deal, Governor.”

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For five years, Governor Bentley and legislative leadership has had the opportunity to send jobs and industry to the Black Belt, an area where we badly need opportunities. Bentley has announced he has a program for broadband Internet expansion, and he could direct those initiatives to rural Alabama where they are most needed.  There are ample opportunities to improve our children’s educational opportunities and to provide means for workforce development, but it has often passed over our rural communities.

For five years, opportunity has not been afforded equally or adequately across all parts of Alabama, and for five years, my colleagues and I have worked hard to find solutions based in compromise.

We aren’t playing the victim, and we certainly aren’t playing politics.  We’re standing up for ourselves and our communities and asking that Montgomery understand what’s fair is fair when it comes to governing this state.

For too long, the Black Belt has been last in boon and first in bust. We won’t bite the hand that feeds us, but we certainly aren’t about to lick the boot that’s kicked us for so long.

 

Rep. Darrio Melton is a Democrat from Selma.  He was elected to the Alabama House of Representatives in 2010 and currently serves as the Chair of the House Democratic Caucus.

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