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Opinion | An election with a difference

Joey Kennedy

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The last full month of campaigning for the Nov. 6, General Election starts Monday, and unless voters demand more of Republicans running for office, Alabamians will likely see more of what they’ve been seeing so far this campaign season: Not a whole lot.

That’s too bad, because for the first time in a long while, voters truly have real choices, if they’re into choices, that is.

For voters who only care who has an “R” or a “D” by their names – no matter how qualified (or unqualified) a candidate is – it’s already a lost cause.

In Alabama, it could very well go that way.

Republican Gov. Kay Ivey, never elected to that position, remains practically invisible. She shows up at ribbon cuttings and industry announcements, but does little else. She steadfastly refuses to debate Democratic Party nominee Walt Maddox, the successful mayor of Tuscaloosa, apparently because she’s scared to death she can’t hold her own against Maddox.

True, observers wonder whether Ivey is even all there – and, of course, she’s not. I’m not talking about Ivey’s mental or physical health, though that is a concern. I’m talking about Ivey showing up anywhere that anyone might ask a hard question.

For the most part, Republicans across the board have dodged debates as frantically as Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh has dodged an impartial investigation into his alleged sexual assault of girls when he was a too-frequently drunk young man in high school and college.

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Republicans, on both the state and national level, have made it clear they want nothing to do with accountability. Led by their party’s oligarch, Donald Trump, they have managed to alienate just about every group in the country but Angry White Men.

Over the past couple years, Republicans (overwhelmingly white males) have offended:

— Millions of women with their insensitivity to the #MeToo movement and their determination to dictate what women are legally allowed to do with their bodies.

— Immigrants with their cage-the-children, split-up-families policies and aversion to allowing political asylum to discarded refugees.

— African-Americans with their #WhiteLivesMatterMoreThanBlackLivesMatter rhetoric and race-baiting political campaigns.

— The LGBTQ community with their homophobic language and anti-gay policies.

— Victims of senseless gun violence and their families with their “A Firearm in Every Palm” mind-set and their Arm-Teachers-with-Pistols-Instead-of-Textbooks mentality.

— The environmental and conservation communities with their “More Fossil Fuels” crusades and science-challenged opposition to anything designed to check climate change.

That’s not all. Republicans have opposed raising the minimum wage, expanding Medicaid to the working poor, maintaining health insurance protections for those with pre-existing conditions, and keeping the social safety net in place for the nation’s profoundly poor men, women, and children.

Big tax cuts for billion-dollar corporations and millionaires are just fine with these Republicans, even as they increase the nation’s national debt by trillions of dollars and turn their backs on a once-proud legacy of fiscal responsibility.

Those receiving Social Security and Medicare should be afraid – very afraid – because Republicans are targeting those programs as well, and nothing good will come if Republicans prevail.

So, yes, in the upcoming midterm election, voters have real choices. They can vote for the practically invisible Republicans, simply because they have an “R” after their names, or take their chances on candidates who have promised to make a true Difference with a big “D” – and  have made it clear to voters the specific policies they’ll support and why they support them.

This isn’t complicated. Alabamians can vote for their best interests – or against them. Our history says we’ll vote against them, but we haven’t had this kind of election in a long, long time. There will be surprises. Many eligible voters who have stayed home in the past are motivated as never before this year.

If those men and women who mean-spirited Republicans have consistently, intentionally offended and marginalized over the past few years actually vote, it might truly be the very last gasp of the Angry White Man.

It couldn’t happen to a more deserving group, either.

Joey Kennedy, a Pulitzer Prize winner, writes a column every week for Alabama Political Reporter. Email: [email protected]

 

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