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Opinion | Why do so many Alabamians vote against themselves?

Alabamians are quite literally voting to fund initiatives that encourage companies to pay them less.

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Vote for yourself. 

It’s a simple concept, upon which this country was essentially built. Vote for the candidates and ballot initiatives that you believe will most benefit you and your family, and families like yours. And also recognize the initiatives that benefit the greater society, particularly your local community, such as tax increases that benefit public schools or necessary infrastructure. 

This is how American government was designed to work. 

The American people voting their interests, with a majority prevailing, and the elected leaders going to work for us in a manner that reflects those votes and crafting legislation that smartly accomplishes the wishes of the people. 

It’s not all that hard, especially for voters. Just vote for yourself. 

And yet, we’re really screwing that up here in Alabama. In fact, I’d wager that there is no bigger problem in this state than its citizenry voting against initiatives and candidates that would directly benefit them. Primarily because of partisan politics, and the belief that voting for the candidates from one particular party is more right than voting for your own interests. 

Now, don’t misunderstand what I’m saying here. This is not a column encouraging you to vote for Democrats (although a second viable party would be wonderful, since legislative compromise was also a major facet of the government our founders designed). 

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Not at all. 

If you believe Republican/conservative principles are what work best for you and your family, by all means, vote that way. 

But pick Republicans/conservatives who hold your most valued beliefs, who are working towards accomplishing goals important to you. 

Let me give you an example. 

Let’s say, just for kicks, that you’re a working guy. You’ve got a trade skill. You’ve noticed the latest numbers on the dramatic difference between union pay and non-union pay on job sites. And it’s staggering. 

The average annual pay for a household in which the primary earner is someone without a high school diploma is $22,000 per year. But that same household with a union member averages $69,500 per year. For households with a high school diploma, the average salary is $95,400, but with a union member, it’s $181,300. With some college: $128,400 and $338,000. With a college degree: $476,000 and $533,000. 

Take a moment and let those numbers sink in. 

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These numbers come directly from the Center for American Progress, and they originated from an analysis of Federal Reserve and Bureau of Labor Statistics data. The figures were first reported by Axios.

Those are real numbers. And here’s the thing: the companies paying out those salaries to union members, those companies are also making huge profits. Just not as huge as the non-union workplaces, since the union pay scales are based on percentages of profits of the company – never taking more than the company can afford to pay. 

And those figures don’t take into account the massive upgrades in benefits and vacation time offered at union shops. 

So, quick question: if you’re a worker, why in the ever-lovin’ world would you be voting for anti-union politicians? It would be like voting for thieves. Or for reverse-Robin Hoods – taking money from you and giving it to the wealthy elites. 

But that’s exactly what so many of you have done in this state. 

Over the last few weeks, Alabama Republicans, from Gov. Kay Ivey to your local reps, have lined up to throw rocks at unions. To paint unions as evil. To give the perception that Alabama’s autoworkers attempting to unionize is tantamount to killing jobs. 

These are the folks who are supposed to be looking out for you. The ones whose salaries you pay. You’d think they’d be thrilled at the prospect of you earning more money. 

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But instead, they’ve been writing op-eds and crafting legislation. Sens. Arthur Orr, April Weaver, Jay Hovey, Andrew Jones, Gerald Allen and Dan Roberts have sponsored legislation that would deny state economic incentive benefits to any company that made it easier for workers to unionize. 

So, to put that another way: Your tax dollars are being used to incentivize companies to pay you less. 

You know what’s even crazier? It’s that right now, if you’re typically a Republican voter, you’re trying to think of a way to justify that – to explain it away. To pretend that somehow it’s OK that the folks you’re voting for are out here trying to protect the deep pockets of corporate executives at the expense of your family’s well being. 

That’s the problem with team politics – where voters care less about the issues and more about the “team” winning. It doesn’t matter if it’s Democrats or Republicans. I wish they’d remove the party labels and force voters to actually research candidates before casting a ballot. 

Because the alternative is literally so bad that people are voting to give their salaries to rich people.

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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