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Opinion | A Tuesday election and nobody cares

How many of Alabama’s eligible voters will bother with casting a ballot on Tuesday?  


How many voters will turn out Tuesday for the important runoff in Alabama’s Republican Party primary for the U.S. Senate?

The candidates, Katie Britt and U.S. Rep. Mo Brooks, are hard to differentiate. Based on their television ads, they’re basically the same person.

Britt’s well-funded campaign paints Brooks as a tax lover, a Trump traitor, and a life-long politician sucking on the public’s teat. Brooks broad-brushes Britt as a lobbyist, beholden to special interests and uninterested in representing the common people.

Both Brooks and Britt use a dab of truth in their ads, but they are, of course, exaggerations, which is what we expect from those running for political office.

Sadly, we don’t expect the full truth from our candidates, and that’s the shame. We reward the Brookses and Britts for their misleading advertisements. Well, sort of.

Again, how many of Alabama’s eligible voters will bother with casting a ballot on Tuesday?  

In the primary on May 24, barely more than 23 percent of Alabama’s 3.6 million registered voters showed up. And those are registered voters. Many more Alabamians are eligible to vote; they just haven’t bothered to register.

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So, the reward we give them for running awful campaigns is not to show up instead of tossing them from office. That’s in line with what Republicans across the nation want to happen. The fewer voters who show up, the better chances Republicans have to win.

Republicans do OK in Alabama, of course. We have low-information voters who respond more to hot-button issues. That’s why Britt and Brooks demonize women who believe in reproductive freedom, immigrants who are just trying to scrape out a better living in a country that supposedly welcomes them, members of the LGBTQ+ community who just want to live their lives being who they are.

Republicans can’t win unless they irresponsibly, maliciously paint others as less than them.

It’s the “bully” move, and I don’t mean the British “bully” where something is “very good; excellent.”

They are bullies, intentionally picking on marginalized folks to win votes, and Alabama voters fall for it. All the time, in those same elections, Alabama voters are going against their own best interests. Which is also what Republicans want them to do.

For the great majority of Alabama residents, their interests and Republican interests are far, far apart.

What concrete ideas have we heard from Brooks or Britt about how to improve lives for ordinary Alabama residents? About our lousy education system or any number of other issues: mental health, corrections, our environment, child welfare.

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Still waiting.

If they had ideas, why aren’t we hearing them? Brooks has been in some public office or another practically since 1982. We continue searching for the many improvements left in the wake of Brooks’ lengthy public service.

Brooks himself doesn’t even tout them in his ads. Because they don’t exist.

Perhaps the best outcome of Tuesday’s primary runoff is that Brooks can be removed from public office, maybe once and for all. That would be a good yet small win for Alabama.

Brooks is nothing but an embarrassment and, indeed, probably a criminal. He helped Donald Trump incite the Jan. 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol that attempted a coup to overthrow a legitimate election and government.

Trump is a sore loser, a fact. And Trump surrounds himself with sore losers who feel that they have, well, nothing else to lose. So, they attack the seat of our government, looking for a Speaker of the House to murder or a vice president to hang.

Brooks had a hand in that. He should be prosecuted.

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Getting rid of Brooks is a good thing – if it happens. Remember, in an election where nobody really shows up to vote, the candidate who can motivate his or her voters the most is likely to win.

Britt doesn’t get a pass, though.

This election has shown us she’ll do just about anything to get the votes, to win a public office. She’ll change who she is. She’ll kiss Donald Trump’s ample butt. She’ll follow the bullies who cast aside transgender and gay kids, and she’ll bully them just as cruelly as a Tim James or a Lindy Blanchard or, yes, a Kay Ivey.

The hope for Britt was that she was different. The great disappointment: She’s not. She’s just smoother. Cleans up better than Mo. Pretty slick, too, dodging the hard questions and just letting her handlers tell her what she should do.

All along, she’s spewing basically the same crap as Mo. The same, sorry crap.

Some people say wait until Britt takes office, she’ll be different. Not when it really matters, though. She’s already shown us who she is, what we can expect when push comes to shove. Britt willcollapse under ambition, especially if her “job” might be on the line.

We should hope that Brooks really is on his way out this time. But let’s not be too excited about Britt, if she should win.

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We’ll see it again. 

Joey Kennedy, a Pulitzer Prize winner, writes a column each week for the Alabama Political Reporter. You can email him at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter.

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