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Opinion | Nothing matters more than the desperate politician

Sen. Del Marsh on the floor of the Alabama Senate in 2018.

Del Marsh is having himself quite a week.

And by that, I mean that Del Marsh is doing dumb things in the hopes that some of you will please remember that he exists when it comes time to vote for the U.S. Senate seat currently held by Doug Jones.

Apparently, the way to win the hearts and minds of GOP voters isn’t through good, conservative governance. It’s through blatant pandering and half-baked ideas.

For a moment here, we will put aside Marsh’s planned sponsorship of a Poarch Creek-friendly lottery bill that allows the tribe to maintain a gaming monopoly while completely screwing the state citizens he’s supposed to represent.

And instead, we’ll move to two other bills that Marsh sponsored: A repeal of common core education standards and allowing taxpayers to check a box on their annual filings to donate to Build the Wall, Inc. — a nonprofit with questionable oversight and a founder that’s involved in numerous other scams, as APR’s Bill Britt reported today.

It’s hard to determine which of these is the dumber bill. But let’s start with Common Core.

The national standards have, since their inception, been a lightning rod for criticism — mainly because they require, in some instances, drastic changes in the way certain things are taught. There is a popular video floating around social media showing the complicated way simple math problems are taught in common core versus the old methods — a difference that allows the person using the old methods to brew a cup of coffee while the common core guy finishes.

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While that’s hilarious in a I-make-fun-of-what-I-don’t-understand sort of way, it misses a much larger point: Common core math curriculum is about teaching students to understand math concepts instead of simply memorizing stuff. That way, when they advance to much more complicated equations in future math courses, they won’t be lost.

But never mind all that. A bunch of parents who ranked dead last in math scores when they were in school — Alabama slipped to last in the rankings the year BEFORE we implemented common core math standards — were having a hard time helping their kids rank dead last, and they raised hell. And as we all know, people who raise hell are easy votes for a desperate politician.

Enter: A desperate politician.

Marsh is running third in what is now a three-man race for the GOP nomination to take on Jones. Bradley Byrne and Mo Brooks (I know, I know) are well ahead of him in most polling.

And so, Marsh brought a repeal bill in the hopes of drawing some of those mad-as-hell parents, and he brought it on spring break week in the hopes of avoiding ticked-off school teachers and administrators. In fact, the bill was all but hidden prior to a couple of days ago, before it sailed through committee with no time for anyone to make an official request for a public hearing, and then hit the floor on Thursday.

It went so fast that it almost cost the state millions of dollars in federal funds. It had to be held on Thursday so lawmakers could add amendments that protected education benchmarks, advanced placement courses and teacher bonuses. And there’s some questions remaining whether that was fully accomplished — or if it even can be accomplished legislatively.

But that’s beside the point — the point being that Marsh was hopefully able to get some name recognition and make a few people forget that he was up to his neck in the scheme to pass a gas tax on the working class.

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And if a common core repeal didn’t do it, maybe a straight up pander to the xenophobe in the White House will.

Marsh, who represents one of the poorest cities in the country, didn’t waste time on a bill that would aid homeless shelters or help build job training centers. Nope, his concern, living in the border city of … *checks notes* … Anniston, is whether Trump’s moronic wall gets built.

Marsh’s contribution: Allowing Alabama taxpayers to check a donation box on their tax filings that sends a donation to essentially a Nigerian email scam.

Build the Wall, Inc. — a nonprofit operated by a guy who will also sell you a commemorative wall coin — is one of the most ridiculous ideas ever imagined. Primarily because even if enough money is raised to build the wall — and spoiler, there won’t be — there’s absolutely no way for the money to be given to Congress.

There are also serious questions about the oversight of the nonprofit, just where the money is going and what might happen to the money if it never goes to actually building a wall.

But never mind all of that.

There’s a desperate politician in need of votes. Everything else, including the best interest of the state and its citizens, takes a backseat to that.

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Josh Moon is an investigative reporter and featured columnist at the Alabama Political Reporter with years of political reporting experience in Alabama. You can email him at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter.

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