Tuesday was a banner day for the Alabama Republican Party.
Let us count the ways.
- The day began with the U.S. Supreme Court, with what amounted to a dismissive wave and yawn, telling the Republicans who OK’d this insane plan to keep racist congressional maps that, well, nah. Instead, the state will have a very good shot at electing to Congress two Black Democrats during the 2024 election cycle, and in the process swinging control of Congress to the Democrats.
- The Alabama Prison Finance Authority met (in what appeared in photos to be a coat room in the Capitol) and announced that the “final” cost of the new prison being built in Elmore County would be a whopping $1.083 BILLION. That’s not a typo. Billion. For one prison. A prison that will be severely overcrowded from its very first day in operation.
- Never one to miss an opportunity for a press release, Alabama AG Steve Marshall, the man behind Alabama’s failed plan to defy the Supreme Court and disenfranchise Black voters, issued a lengthy statement to “the people of Alabama,” in which he attempted to convince everyone that the ultra-conservative Supreme Court and 11th Circuit District Court were somehow complicit in a left-wing conspiracy to unfairly allow Black votes to count fully. Using rhetoric that would have made George Wallace proud, Marshall proclaimed the High Court’s ruling to be nothing more than “separate but equal congressional districts.”
- Apparently believing that other Alabama lawmakers might be besting him in an awful contest, our senior U.S. Sen. Tommy Tuberville announced during a Bloomberg interview that he voted against the next Chairman of the Joint Chiefs because that person, Gen. CQ Brown, believes in equal opportunity. And Tuberville made it quite clear that he doesn’t want that equal opportunity stuff in our military because he wants positions and promotions to be awarded based on merit. He wants everyone to have an equal opportunity, he said, which is why he’s totally against equal opportunity (It makes sense if you’re in a concussion protocol, I think).
I ask this with all sincerity: Is this really the government y’all want?
Are these really the people you want representing you? The people whose actions and comments are used by folks outside of this state to form opinions about the rest of us?
Are these really our best and brightest?
Call me crazy, but I don’t think the average Alabamian thinks it’s fair that 28 percent of the people of this state were segregated by voting maps in such a way that their voting power was effectively cut in half. Even the racist framers agreed to three-fifths.
But that’s what Alabama’s proposed congressional voting maps did to Black voters. No matter what happened, in six of seven districts, the candidates elected would not be the choice of an overwhelming majority of Black voters.
That’s not fair, and I don’t think most Alabamians are OK with an obviously unfair process. And yet … you’ve elected every one of the people – most of them in overwhelming fashion – who are fighting tooth and nail to keep such an unfair process in place.
Likewise, I don’t believe Alabamians are foolish enough to be suckered into paying more than a billion dollars for a single new prison – a prison that will be overcrowded and that will do nothing to address the majority of our most pressing criminal justice issues. In fact, the prison will likely do far more harm than good, because its massive cost will prevent us from doing other necessary things.
And yet, I barely hear a peep from Alabama voters about this massive expense. Or about the impending doom associated with our prison healthcare contract. Or the ever-rising costs of our ill-run prison system.
But I do hear lots from Steve Marshall. Every day, it seems, I get a press release from his office announcing some new lawsuit he’s joined to fight Joe Biden or some way that he’s fighting “wokeism” – whatever in the hell that is – or how he’s doing pretty much anything but the job you all elected him to do.
His latest quest was convincing the legislature to defy the Supreme Court and not draw a second majority-minority congressional district on maps Alabama submitted to a federal court, because they knew some people who knew Brett Kavanaugh. On Tuesday, he was embarrassed when the entire court refused to entertain Alabama’s requested block of maps drawn by an appointed special master. In response, Marshall issued one of the most tone-deaf, ignorant press releases I’ve encountered in a while.
To actually say in print that the Supreme Court was forcing Alabama to use “racially gerrymandered” maps is really something for an AG who fought for maps that limited Black representation to roughly half what it should have been.
Just look at Alabama’s submitted maps. Look at the way the district lines snake in and out of counties and communities, stretching almost half the state in some cases. All in an effort to achieve six solidly white, solidly conservative districts, while simultaneously packing the majority of Black voters in a single district. And they did it over and over and over and over. Without an ounce of remorse.
Maybe this is why Tommy Tuberville doesn’t understand what equal opportunity means – they’ve been coddled and given every advantage for so long that anything approaching fairness feels unfair to them. Because nothing scares mediocre white people quite as much as a level playing field.
Which is why, I guess, they keep fighting so hard. And keep embarrassing us so much.