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Opinion | The cruelty is their weapon

Alabama Republican lawmakers keep pushing hateful, worthless legislation because it’s easy, and because their voters keep rewarding them for it.

The Alabama Statehouse in Montgomery.

Why do we keep doing this? 

Late Thursday evening, or maybe it was Friday morning, the Alabama Legislature closed up the 2022 regular session. The final day, like many of the days that came before it in this session, was a mess of worthless, hurtful, pandering bills that were written (or copied and pasted from bills in other states in most cases) only to vilify the vulnerable and attack the weak.

Of all the problems we have in this state, you can rest assured that children struggling to understand their sexual orientation and just trying like hell to survive is not an issue that ranks highly on the list of issues requiring government corrective action. Neither is teachers discussing sexual orientation with third-graders.

And yet, to hear our lawmakers and to see their work this session, you would be led to believe that our schools’ hallways and bathrooms are filled with transgender teens – most of whom wouldn’t be transgender at all if not for their know-nothing parents and activist doctors – and gay sex ed is a required first-grade course.

Oddly, not a single Republican lawmaker who sponsored or supported such legislation could identify a single example of such a parent or such a doctor, and most of them admitted that they’ve never encountered a transgender individual or held even superficial discussions about the topic with anyone in the transgender community. Likewise, there was not a single example of a K-5 teacher holding sex chats with students.

There’s a reason for that.

They don’t care. They’ve never cared. They will never care.

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The cruelty isn’t just the point, it’s their secret weapon — their get-out-of-doing-real-work card.

This isn’t a serious group of lawmakers attempting to address issues they feel require government intervention. These are adult-sized children attempting to use fear to mask their lack of intellect (It should be pointed out that their pandering on Thursday was so poorly thought out that the bill they passed – requiring students to use the bathroom matching their birth gender and forbidding conversations about sex, gender or sexual orientation – essentially cancel each other out. After all, how can you determine a student’s gender if you’re not allowed to discuss gender with students?).

They’ve been doing this boogeyman BS for years now.

Black people. Interracial marriage. Gay marriage. Immigrants. Transgender sports. Sharia Law. Obama. Obamacare.

The game is always the same: Find a villain, scare the hell out of people with it, pretend to slay the villain, congratulate yourselves, do nothing to fix real problems, get re-elected.

This is the cycle in Alabama politics. And it’s killing us. Quite literally.

We have so many real, serious problems that affect so many good and decent people in this state on a daily basis. From the lack of quality healthcare services to deplorable wastewater systems to crumbling infrastructure to rivers and lakes so polluted we can’t swim in them.

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And let’s also not forget our third-world prison system that continues to be a breeding ground for death and misery. If we read stories about dogs dying at the rates we’re allowing humans to die in our prisons, there would be statewide outrage and 30 bills filed by next week.

But you can’t stoke the base with acts of decency directed towards the incarcerated. And apparently, providing the people of your district with quality healthcare options isn’t nearly the vote-getter that bullying a trans kid is.

So, here we are. Over and over and over again. Like a hateful, unwatchable Groundhog’s Day.

It’s weird how a state that takes such pride in its rebel spirit – of refusing to be told what to do – is so easily led around by the nose by people using such obvious scare tactics.

I mean, get real. You don’t know a trans kid. And no teacher has ever told your fourth-grader about sexual orientation.

But half your family is in poor health and you wouldn’t mind being able to fry up the fish you caught without dying of mercury poisoning. You know of at least 10 roads that need to be fixed and you’ve actually thanked God for Biden’s COVID money that’s finally going to bring decent broadband to your house so you can stop driving the kid up to the McDonald’s parking lot to do his homework.

So why aren’t you voting for those things?

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Everyone – liberals and conservatives and everyone in between – complains about Alabama’s government, and about how the state does the most backwards things and never seems to solve the most obvious problems. And then you go out, time and again, and fall for this absolute con game.

Stop it. Just for a few years, try this: look around your house, identify the most pressing issues affecting your family and then vote for candidates who will address those issues in a satisfactory manner.

Because, trust me, if voters stop falling for the scare tactics, our lawmakers will stop using them. And they’ll start focusing on things that actually matter to you. These are mostly a bunch of people you wouldn’t trust to mulch your flowerbeds. They’ll go where you direct them.

Direct them to meaningful things.

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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