By Josh Moon
Alabama Political Reporter
Dear Republican voter,
You’re a fool.
I say that in the nicest possible way. I say that with a tone of pity, instead of a tone of condescension. I say that because I want to help you, and in turn help all the rest of us.
But mostly I say it because you’ve been tricked time and again – like a bunch of Charlie Browns trying to kick the same football – into believing that the shiny, controversial, fringe issue is of utmost importance and should take all of your focus while the other boring, policy stuff should be left up to the lawmakers who have your interest at heart.
Those lawmakers have played you for a fool.
If you doubt this, take just a moment and do one thing for me.
Look around you.
Take a long, hard look at the state where you live. Look at the poverty. Look at the poor-performing schools. Look at the lack of hospitals and doctors. Look at the lack of quality jobs. Look at the crumbling infrastructure. Look at the jam-packed prisons. Look at the budget shortfalls. Look at the undrinkable tap water and unfishable rivers.
Look at it all.
Now, ask yourself how it got that way.
It sure didn’t come from progressive, liberal governance, because we’ve never had that. And it sure hasn’t come from a focus on the real issues. Nor has it come because our lawmakers have ever once focused specifically on what’s good for the average Alabamian instead of on what’s good for the wealthy Alabamian.
And the way they have been able to get away with this top-level mooching for so long is simple: Distraction.
It’s the oldest con game in the book.
Distract with movement or shiny objects over here while you pull off the trick over there.
There have been a steady flow of distractions for years: civil rights, gay marriage, abortion, immigration.
This session of Alabama’s legislature will be no different. You can see it in the pre-filed bills and the Republican agenda. (I’d mention the Democratic agenda, but it’s simply to remain irrelevant, so there’s no point.)
There are the usual bills targeting abortion laws, which usually wind up only costing us hundreds of thousands of dollars to unsuccessfully defend in court. The GOP agenda calls for more of the abortion bills, and it pushes others on immigration and protecting Confederate memorials.
Here’s what’s not in that agenda and not in any pre-filed, Republican legislation: ideas for fixing the state’s crumbling health care industry, ideas for properly funding government for an extended period without cutting necessary services or ideas for repairing the infrastructure issues.
Look, you can be as passionate as you want about abortion, immigration, gay marriage, minority voting rights and guns, but none of those things are going to be solved by any bill that passes in this state. Those are federal issues.
So, while passing a “right to life” amendment might make you feel good, it’s actually doing the opposite. Because while you were allowing our lawmakers to focus on that nonsense, real health care issues, like funding Medicaid, were going unaddressed.
And believe it or not, that matters to you. Even if you don’t know anyone on Medicaid, it matters. Because when those who live around you are unable to get decent, basic care, and their simple illnesses cause complicated illnesses, you wind up paying more, the businesses around you lose their employees and pay more in insurance costs and a family that relies on the labor of that person loses its breadwinner.
These are things that should matter to you.
These are the things that should drive you to elect better, smarter, more honest people.
But they don’t. Time and again, you fall for the shiny ball trick, and we wind up with a bunch of crooks who just keep lining their own pockets at our expense.
And it makes us all look like fools.