I’m in my 45th year as a professional journalist. During that time, I’ve written sports, covered government meetings, been an investigative reporter, and written opinion. I’ve written opinion only for more than 30 of those years. For the past four years, I’ve written a weekly column for Alabama Political Reporter, and it’s been a lot of fun.
Sure, those of us who write opinion for APR, whether it be from the left or right, are subject to reader comments. But readers truly let those of us who write from the left have it. My colleagues Josh Moon, Eddie Burkhalter, and Bill Britt gladly welcome reader responses. Even the mean ones. Because when people only respond with personal attacks and no alternative ideas, we know they have really nothing to offer to the conversation. Just insults. It’s OK; we’re adults.
We realize that many of those who respond to us with their ad hominem attacks don’t really know much about us.
So today, I’m going to do something that Josh or Eddie or Bill likely would never do (because they’re not nearly as lazy as me). I’m going to interview myself. That way, readers can get a better idea about where I’m coming from.
This is an actual interview I conducted with myself this week. If I don’t cover a question you would like to ask, let me know, and I’ll answer it if it’s a sincere question. Here we go:
Me: Why are you such a liberal Democrat?
Me: I’m not a Democrat. I am an independent. I tend to vote for more Democrats than Republicans, but I vote for some Republicans every election. I split my vote; I would never vote a straight-party ticket. Talk about lazy.
However, I am a “liberal,” whatever that means. To many on the right, it’s a dirty word. To the dictionary, it means “favorable to progress or reform, as in political or religious affairs.” I would hate to be a person unfavorable to “progress or reform.” But my “liberal” ideas have developed over decades of living, studying issues, observing those around me, traveling to many other states and countries, and just plain listening. I’m a skeptical person, so I don’t simply believe what somebody else tells me, even if that somebody is a person of authority. Indeed, throughout my journalism career, I’ve gotten into hot water in various jobs for challenging the people in authority. Most don’t like it. Some actually accept it, realize a challenge doesn’t mean disloyalty, and all is good. I do respect authority, but I don’t respect it blindly.
Me: If you don’t like Alabama, why don’t you just move away?
Me: I love, love, love Alabama. I moved here on purpose; I’m not moving away. I was born in Southeastern Texas and grew up in deep Southern Louisiana. I came to Alabama 42 years ago to work at the Cullman Times. I’ve never left. I spent a few years at the Anniston Star and most of my career at The Birmingham News, before it became a shell of itself. It was at The News where two colleagues (the late Ron Casey and the much alive Harold Jackson) and I won the newspaper’s first Pulitzer Prize. The News editorial board was a finalist for two more Pulitzer Prizes. We knew what we were doing. Then greed destroyed a great newspaper. I was fired in 2015 for “threatening sources” (?) and being “too closely involved” with my stories. In other words, I was a hard-working journalist who was passionate about his job. That’s now much newspapers had changed. No, I’m not leaving Alabama. There’s too much for a “progressive” to write about here. Too much that needs to be “reformed.”
Me: Why do you hate Donald Trump?
Me: He’s just awful. He caters to racism, misogyny, homophobia, xenophobia, and the worst of our spirits. He’s a bully, a white supremacist, a serial sexual abuser, and con man. He has scammed millions of Americans, but many are coming around now. Sadly, in Alabama, the “Don Con” continues to work.
Me: Do you think Trump should be impeached?
Me: Why do you hate Republicans?
Me: I don’t hate Republicans. But I do not like hypocrites, and many of the Republicans today, even in Alabama, are hypocrites. They bow at Trump’s feet not because they believe what Trump is yelling on any particular day, but because they see Trump as a means to be elected. Take U.S. Rep. Bradley Byrne (please!). He used to be a progressive, wanting all services in Alabama to improve. But ever since he was defeated by Robert Bentley, he’s morphed into someone many of us never knew. Now, he’s simply a sycophant for Donald Trump. He’s like George Wallace, without the charisma. We have a lot of these kinds of politicians in Alabama, from the governor to secretary of state to the auditor. They are awful, too. Until voters begin voting for their best interests, this will continue, along with the corruption that comes with it. Oh, Alabama, let’s stop defending our wrongs.
Me: What one thing would you do if you could to change Alabama?
Me: Sorry, Joey, I have to list two.
Me: I said just one.
Me: Well, I’m doing two.
Me: Go ahead, a—hole.
Me: Thank you, I will (a—hole). The first is do away with straight-ticket voting. It’s ruining our elections and causing us to elect unqualified people and to throw out highly qualified people. Only a handful of states allow straight-ticket voting anymore. Of course, Alabama is one of those.
Second, get rid of all the top leaders of the Alabama Democratic Party and start over. Joe Reed, Nancy Worley, and their cronies have ruined the party in Alabama. So much so that the National Democratic Party has stepped in to try to make the party better. I say just start over. The Alabama Democratic Party is a joke, and as long as it remains the punchline, Republicans don’t have to work hard to put corrupt politicians in office. Alabama benefits from strong two-(or more) party elections. More ideas are not a bad thing. Having a real choice at the polls is not a bad thing. Vote for the individual, not the party.
Now I’m going to take a nap.
Joey Kennedy, a Pulitzer Prize winner, writes a column every week for Alabama Political Reporter. Email: [email protected]