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Opinion | Viral video proves Alabama Republicans are out of touch with the working class

A viral video reveals that GOP lawmakers are clueless about problems facing working people.

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Gov. Kay Ivey is not a heartless, callous woman. 

While I’ve certainly disagreed with a number of her policies and her lack of movement on important issues, such as health care expansion, that affect our state’s neediest citizens, I do believe Ivey cares about the people of the state. She wants to be remembered as someone who did good things. She wants to treat people well. 

So, I don’t believe that she (or her staff) intended to suggest that a struggling Alabama mom give up her kids in order to make ends meet. 

But I do understand why that mom thinks so. 

If you missed the latest viral video making the rounds on social media, here’s a quick recap: TikTokker Emily Davis, a single mom, wrote to Ivey last month essentially asking the governor to help middle class, working folks in the state. Davis noted the struggles that many people, like herself, were having and specifically asked for rent caps and other initiatives that might make it easier for working people to pay their bills and get by. 

Ivey’s office responded last week with a letter to Davis, in which the governor told Davis that the state offered a number of services through the Department of Human Resources. The letter listed some of those services, and it included in that list “adoption and foster care” services. The letter also informed Davis that “Given the nature of (her) contact” with Ivey’s office, her information was being passed along to DHR “to review.” 

Davis, obviously, took the letter to mean that the governor of this state just suggested that one option for struggling, poor parents in the state was to give up their kids for adoption. And she also took the latter part to mean that Ivey’s office had reported her to DHR for some sort of child endangerment problem. 

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And I think it’s understandable how she arrived at this conclusion. 

I mean, why else would adoption and foster care services be included in the letter, right? And what is DHR reviewing about her? 

On the other hand, I don’t doubt the explanation from Ivey’s office. Ivey spokesperson Gina Maiola said, basically, that the letter had been “misinterpreted” by Davis and that Ivey was only trying to provide Davis with options that might address the issues she brought up. The adoption and foster care services were included in the letter because they are part of the services that DHR offer, and their inclusion was in no way a suggestion for Davis. 

Oh, and the part about passing Davis’ info on to DHR, that was just so DHR officials could reach out to Davis and offer support. It wasn’t a threat of any kind, Maiola said. 

I don’t doubt a word of that. 

The problem, however, is the complete and utter disconnect between Ivey (and really all of the conservatives who run this state) and the real-life, everyday problems that working class and poor folks face in this state. 

That’s why this became an issue. 

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Because an Alabama mom who’s working every day trying to provide her family wrote to the governor and gave specific examples of how she, and people like her, is struggling financially, and the governor essentially sent back a form letter filled with unhelpful, and in many ways, unrelated suggestions. 

It was so devoid of compassion and understanding of Davis’ concerns that someone apparently copied and pasted the list of services offered by DHR and never considered that leaving in “adoption and foster care” might send the wrong message. 

That is THE issue here. And it should be the issue for many, many more Alabama voters. 

Because people like Davis – working class, struggling-to-make-ends-meet, give-me-one-damn-break people – make up a large percentage of the voting population in this state, and they account for a large percentage of the Republican base. And the Republican Party is failing them. Bigly. 

Just look at the most recent legislative session. And find me the legislation that addresses real-life, everyday problems facing the backbone demographic of this state. 

Let me help you: the bills you’re looking for aren’t which bathroom a kid can use or sucking $100 million out of your local schools to give to rich families or defining what a woman is or trying to jail librarians or trying to lock up school teachers for telling kids how to use condoms or banning DEI, CRT or basic history. 

It’s things like affordable child care and lowering housing costs and offering more job training and certifications and removing taxes from overtime pay. 

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Guess which party introduced the former pieces of legislation, and then guess which party sponsored the latter. 

So, you’ll have to forgive Davis if she read that letter and thought the worst. Because why in the hell wouldn’t she? 

She lives in a state that refuses to expand Medicaid, despite being one of the sickest and least healthiest states in the country; where maternal mortality rates are through the roof; where taxes are the most regressive in the nation; where the attorney general is threatening to jail women for making health care choices; where our conservative leadership proudly touts the fact that Alabama labor is cheap. 

So, no, Kay Ivey isn’t callous or uncaring. 

It’s just that, like the rest of the Republican Party, she’s out of touch with the real life problems facing the working people of Alabama.

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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