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Opinion | The insanity of 2020

Joey Kennedy

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This is my last column.

Until next year. Don’t want you to get too excited.

It may be a time to reflect on the past 12 months. Or, better, a time to look ahead.

2020 is going to be a big year in Alabama and nationally. The U.S. Senate will at some point hold an impeachment trial of Donald Trump, our seemingly demented president. That trial, by most all accounts, will end in acquittal. But that may not be the end. If Democrats are determined, they can impeach the criminal president again.

More important, though, is that voters have their say on the president’s tenure in November 2020. While I don’t believe Trump will be re-elected, that terrible result certainly can’t be counted out.

First, Democrats have to get their act together, settle on a nominee, then get behind that nominee fully. In 2016, after Hillary Clinton defeated Bernie Sanders in the Democratic primary, many Democrats and Bernie supporters stayed home on election day. Even so, Clinton beat Trump in the popular countby nearly 3 million votes. Trump gained the White House by beating Clinton by a few thousand votes in some key states and winning the Electoral College 304-227.

The nation isn’t more enamored with Trump this time around. The president has clearly ticked off many groups, including African Americans and other people of color, immigrants, women, the LGBTQ+ community and others. And demographically, the nation continues to turn more brown.

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The economy is doing well, true, and Trump can take credit for that now, but remember, it really is Barack Obama’s economy.Trump’s trade wars have not helped, and his foreign policies are an embarrassment to the nation.

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So with all the scandals surrounding his presidency, with many of his associates, former Cabinet members, and friends convicted of crimes, Trump should be easy pickings.

He’s not, though, and unless Democrats really pull together and show up on voting day, Trump could slip through again. He’s certainly got the political machine – and money – to repeat.

In Alabama, we have important congressional races, with U.S. Rep. Martha Roby, R-Montgomery, retiring and U.S. Rep. Bradley Byrne, R-Montrose, running for the U.S. Senate seat held by Doug Jones, D-Birmingham. Byrne has a crowd to get through – including former Sen. Jeff Sessions – and it isn’t looking so good for him. Good. We need to be rid of Byrne.

Likewise, Jones is running his own re-election campaign. As the only Democrat elected statewide in Alabama, Jones faces a big challenge. Unlike when he won in 2017 in a special election, this time Jones will be on the ballot with members of Congress and Trump, a true Alabama favorite. Though Jones has really been a fine senator, too many voters don’t consider qualifications but, rather, simply vote straight ticket Republican.

Alabama should join most other states and end straight-party voting, but the Republicans who hold supermajorities in both chambers of the Legislature and who own the governor’s office and every other constitutional office, want to keep voters dumb and scratching that elephant oval.

Still, don’t count Jones out. He motivates many voters, including independents and African American women.

Also in 2020: What is the state finally going to do about all manner of issues, including the opioid epidemic, the state’s failing prisons, the mental health treatment crisis, reasonable gun regulation and red flag laws, and the lack of affordable health insurance for hundreds of thousands of working poor Alabamians?

We need not hold our breath. At the end of 2020, we’ll probably still be talking about these issues, Alabama voters will be looking to the same, tired, Republican Party to find fixes they haven’t found in a decade, and, as a poor state, Alabama will still be at the bottom of just about every quality-of-life measure out there.

We’ll keep doing the same thing and hope for a different result. The very definition of insanity.

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

 

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