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Opinion | Space Command may be the price Alabama pays for Tuberville

Tuberville is the embodiment of everything wrong with Alabama politics and Alabama voters.

Sen. Tommy Tuberville, R-Alabama, in a photo from his campaign website.
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Tommy Tuberville should cost Alabama the U.S. Space Command. He should be the example that the Biden administration points to when it explains to the rest of the country why it is electing to overturn the decision to move Space Command from Colorado to Huntsville. Because there is no better example of the problems in this state than our senior senator. 

There is no one person who better personifies the voter indifference to competency. Or this state’s embracing of hateful, harmful speech. Or this state’s vilification of people and ideas who are the slightest bit out of the ordinary, no matter how good those people might be. Or this state’s astonishing knack for always, always falling for the next scare tactic/religious talking point/conservative fake scandal. 

Tuberville is all of it. 

And it should come as no surprise to anyone that the guy who is so clearly only in his current position to enrich himself is going to end up costing Alabamians in a huge – YUGE – way. 

Elections have consequences, they say, and Tommy Tuberville is our consequence. 

From his embracing of white supremacy to his consistent ethical failures to his devotion of a man found liable by an impartial jury for sexual assault, he is our penance for the disengagement and disinterest of Alabama voters. 

Because at the heart of this matter, that’s where the ultimate blame falls – on voters. On you, if you voted for this carpetbagger with a whistle. On you, if you’ve fallen for the absurd rightwing rhetoric on any number of important, serious issues. 

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On you, if you approve of the people who passed our ridiculous abortion law. 

Because that’s what this is really all about – female healthcare. The Biden administration wants to ensure that the women who serve this country have full access to the care they need. And if you have one state where that care is available, and you have another state where the care is restricted based purely on religious ideology, in the United States of America – where there still exists a first amendment – the president must choose the state honoring the constitution. 

Tuberville has used his position on the Senate Armed Services Committee – and his one-man blockade of military promotions in protest of a Defense Department rule allowing servicemembers to be reimbursed for travel to receive reproductive care – to shine a bright light on Alabama’s handling of abortion and women’s health care issues in general. 

And make no mistake about it: Alabama has an abhorrent record when it comes to providing women adequate health care. 

And that’s not just a commentary on abortion. 

It’s a commentary on many, many aspects of daily life in Alabama, particularly for the working class women. Which, I believe, is the group where most servicemembers fall. From a health care standpoint, things are worse today in the state than they were 40 years ago. 

A recent report from Alabama Arise highlighted many of the declining health care options in Alabama, noting that 37 counties in this state now lack obstetrical services. In 1980, only eight counties lacked those services. 

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Fixing this problem would have been less expensive than building new prisons. But guess which one our lawmakers got done. 

And somehow, there are not riots in the street over this. Or the hundreds of other infuriating things like it.  

Because this is how we live our lives here – heads in the sand, hoping that “someone” will come along and fix this stuff. Or even just maintain it. 

But it doesn’t happen. Because political indifference, driven by years of gerrymandering and single-party rule (yes, Democrats once ruled the state), have allowed a never-ending stream of crooks, dullards and wack-a-doos to worm their way into office. And their persistent failures and scandals have only served to inspire more indifference. 

Which brings us to today, where a con man football coach who probably didn’t even live here, and who definitely couldn’t name the three branches of government, was elected to the U.S.-freakin-Senate because he managed to phony-up enough hateful anger at non-white people to attract the vote of the 30 percent of eligible voters in this state who bothered to bubble in a ballot. 

And y’all want Space Command? 

We can’t work on space. We’re regressing on Earth. 

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Look, I get that there are a lot of good people in and around the Huntsville area who have made it an attractive place. It’s different from the rest of the state in a lot of ways, and most of those ways – which remains the weirdest thing to me – are the the very things the crazies of this state are trying to tear down – good public schools, engaged voter base, socially conscious citizens, a citizenry that respects police but also holds them accountable. 

But this tiny portion of the state can’t overcome the rest of it. For goodness sakes, there is legitimate polling showing that more than 70 percent of this state’s registered voters oppose its current abortion ban and that 60 percent want abortion legal in all cases. And yet, somehow, there is still a bill in the House today – with FIVE sponsors – seeking to impose the death penalty on mothers who undergo an abortion for almost any reason. 

At the same time, there are outright attacks on public education – with bills seeking to remove tens of millions of dollars annually from one of the worst public school systems in the nation and give it to rich people who are ALREADY sending their kids to private schools. We still are resisting Medicaid expansion out of nothing more than pure political spite. We’re still using COVID money to build a billion dollar prison. And we’re still hellbent on driving transgender children to suicide because politicians without a plan to govern have found that they’re an easy boogeyman. 

But see, outside of this indifferent, hateful bubble, these things matter. They matter a lot. 

I know that politics in this day and age is basically a weird online game where you think you win if your side gets to treat a specific group of people awful, and there are never any consequences. But guess what? There are. 

The rest of the country – and the world, to some extent – sees how we’re treating people. They see the people we’re electing. They see that Alabama, while touting southern hospitality, has in reality embraced hate and racism and bigotry of all shades – and in many, many cases, done so very proudly. 

It’s so very rare that such an obvious and steep price is ever paid for these actions. But it looks like Alabama is about to pay up. 

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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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