Twelve percent of voters control Alabama.
That’s right. Twelve percent.
They make the laws. They elect the lawmakers. They’re responsible for the state government we have.
I know this to be true because that 12 percent is responsible for the worst law we have – Alabama’s total abortion ban.
In a recent study from the Public Religion Research Institute, only 12 percent of this state’s citizens agreed with a total abortion ban. More than half the state thought that abortion should be legal in all or most cases, with only minimal restrictions. An overwhelming majority believed that any abortion law should have exceptions for rape and incest.
And yet … here we are. With a total abortion ban that so very few people want.
Just like that assault weapons ban we don’t have. Or those bills protecting confederate monuments. Or the bills ridiculing transgender kids. Or the bills weirdly worrying so much about bathrooms. Or the bills attacking public school teachers. Or the bills talking endlessly about CRT, even when you clearly have no idea what it means.
Every day, I go through my emails and messages and read the same thing: Why are our lawmakers wasting so much time on this nonsense?
Well, here’s your answer: Gerrymandering.
We’ve so gerrymandered our voting maps, essentially eliminating any chance for a competitive race in the general election, that we’ve been left with a state that is dominated by the outer fringes of each side.
And in this deep-red state, where Republicans hold a supermajority in both houses and hold every statewide office, that means the 12 percent voting Republican – your Newsmax-watching, Tucker-retweeting, Jan. 6-was-all-antifa-and-BLM-believing crazies – are running this show. Because that 12 percent can be counted on to show up at the polls.
And when virtually every race is determined in the primaries, instead of the general – where turnouts are significantly less (particularly if there’s a runoff) – that 12 percent is typically the difference between winning and losing.
It doesn’t matter that they’re clearly insane. The rules of politics in 2023 dictates that you must cater to them.
Oh, and let me assure you – the overwhelming majority of Republican lawmakers fully believe that the far-right base is nuts. They know full well that their ideas are often counterproductive and regressive. They talk openly about their fears that some of the crazier, more repulsive bills will deter economic development efforts or drive away our best minds.
Yet, they don’t dare challenge the lunacy because they know full well that some other opportunistic sellout will come along and tell those people what they want to hear.
Now, I know what you’re thinking: That’s a lot “lunacy,” “insane” and “nuts” talk with very little evidence to back it up. Oh, but I got evidence.
Remember during the height of COVID, when the far-right conspiracy theorists were running wild on your grandparents’ Facebook feed and our lawmakers were screaming about Fauci and government overreach and Nazis and fighting all mandates?
You know what Alabama Republican lawmakers were also doing?
Shutting down the State House, getting their vaccines and generally following the protocols laid out by Dr. Fauci. Because they were scared to death.
Or, hey, here’s a good one. You remember all of those gun laws that we’ve rolled back, while our Republican lawmakers, with straight faces, have explained how more guns can make us safer? Remember last session when they went so far as to ignore the pleas of law enforcement and do away with concealed carry permits, because every American should have the right to carry a firearm like the Founders intended?
Yeah, well, guess where you can’t carry one?
Around these guys in the State House. Because while they might coddle crazy, they’re not letting those crazies carry a firearm around them.
And it’s not just lawmakers who know the rightwing fringe is insane.
Have you followed the reporting on the civil lawsuit filed by Dominion Voting Systems against Fox News? As part of that lawsuit, Dominion got access to thousands of text messages and emails between Fox News staffers, including some of its most famous on-air talent. That correspondence revealed what we all knew – that not even Fox employees believe the absolute BS they put on their network every night.
That correspondence clearly shows that Fox ran with an election conspiracy theory that its on-air talent and corporate executives knew was false. They allowed guests to spew absolute lies while the hosts, in private messages, ridiculed them as “insane” and “a nut.”
So, why did they do it? Well, money, of course.
While Fox News’ viewership makes up a tiny slice of America, it is, nonetheless, a lucrative slice. Much like that 12 percent voting bloc in Alabama.
During his deposition, Fox News CEO Rupert Murdoch admitted that at least one host continued to push the election lies because the network was concerned about losing viewers to Newsmax. Host Tucker Carlson expressed the same concerns in an email, saying the Fox viewers believe the lies and he wanted to keep them.
Which leaves us all in a rather sad state, it appears. There’s a tiny fraction of America, and of Alabama, that is unwilling to accept facts that might cause them to question anything they believe. Instead, they will vote for literally anyone or watch literally any “news” channel in a never-ending search for validation. And right now, one whole political party and the biggest news media outlets are all catering to them.
There is a bit of good news, I guess.
It’s only 12 percent.