By Joey Kennedy
Alabama Political Reporter
Has anybody who writes about politics this year been more wrong than me? Maybe, but I don’t know. I don’t think so.
I wrote that Donald Trump would never win the Republican nomination for president. Surely we’re smarter than that, even the Republicans. No way the Christian right would support such an awful man who is everything they say they’re not.
I wrote that Democrat Hillary Clinton would win the presidency. And I wrote it would be a landslide. She’d win easily. Our first woman president, following our first African-American president.
I don’t know that I’ve ever had a more wrong year. I feel like a TV meteorologist.
At least meteorologists have no real control over the weather. They just go with what they have, and sometimes what they have is wrong.
American voters had control of this election. And they put Donald Trump in the White House. Already, their trust in the megalomaniac has been betrayed. Trump is backing up on the Wall, backing up on going after Hillary (“Lock Her Up!”), backing up on “Cleaning the swamp.”
I never thought this would happen, and I’ve been pretty good over the years at predicting elections.
I was the only person on The Birmingham News editorial board who said President Barack Obama would be elected in 2008. And I said he’d be re-elected again in 2012. He was. Easily.
But in this election?
I was so wrong.
Maybe I’m the megalomaniac. But, if so, my megalomaniacish confidence has been rattled.
U.S. Sen. Jeff Sessions of Alabama as attorney general? Really? Ben Carson as Secretary of Housing and Urban Development? Really? White-power leader Steve Bannon as chief strategist? Really? A Treasury Secretary, Steven Mnuchin, an insider at Goldman Sachs, who is against holding big money accountable? Really?
Could it be worse? Well, it can always be worse.
I criticized Senator For Life Richard Shelby not long ago for saying he wanted American ,to look more like Alabama. I said it would never happen.
I said compassion and grace and love would win out. We are better than making hate, division, and discrimination part of our nation’s genetics.
I was wrong. So wrong.
Today, America, with alleged billionaire Donald Trump at the helm, looks more like Alabama than it ever has.
If George Wallace is rolling over in his grave, he’s giving himself high-fives at the same time.
I encouraged my immigrant friends that a xenophobe like Donald Trump could never win. Oh, he’d win Alabama, no question. But he wouldn’t win the nation. The United States is not Alabama.
I told my women friends that a misogynist like Donald Trump could never win. Oh, he’d win Alabama, no question. But he wouldn’t win the nation. The United States is not Alabama.
I told my LGBTQ friends and animal advocates and African-American friends that Donald Trump could never win. Oh, he’d win Alabama, no question. But he wouldn’t win the nation. The United State is not Alabama.
I was wrong.
Today, the United States is Alabama.
A close writer friend of mine was threatened this week with bodily harm for writing his informed opinions. That’s happened to me in the past as well. But such threats seem to be more common now than ever. It’s dangerous out there today. Be careful.
When somebody stops me at Lowe’s or Home Depot or Publix and asks if I’m Joey Kennedy, I don’t know how to respond. In the end, I tell them who I am, and then wait for a response. They almost always are positive interactions.
But today? Is that true? With free speech under assault as it has never been before, with division and hate smothering what’s always been good about us? Can good and decency prevail?
I’m not making a prediction about that, because I don’t know how wrong a person can be. Certainly, no more wrong than me.
Joey Kennedy, a Pulitzer Prize winner, writes a column every week for Alabama Political Reporter. Email: [email protected]