Political leanings in this state and all across the country are akin to birds atop an electrical wire – they all pile atop one another, close to the center, and chirp away with songs that only vary from one another by one or two notes, while the outliers resting closer to the edges remain sullenly silent and defecate on the unsuspecting pedestrians below.
Never one to mingle with the middle-grounders, the progressives or the conservatives, my place on the wire rests far to the left of even the most progressive liberal, which provides an excellent vantage point for assessing the failures of those clumped together around the middle.
And surely there is no better place to analyze the failures of an entire political mindset than Alabama, a state where the failures of its conservative majority are only dwarfed by the complete ineptitude of its so-called progressive flank, the Alabama Democratic Party.
The laundry list of reasons why this party is as effective as a castrated stud have been dragged out time and again in various media outlets, from the party’s internal corruption to its cowardly inactivity and more, but the progressive-minded voter doesn’t need analyses and investigations to see how the party has let down its constituents – no, for that one need only look at the uptick in backwards and hateful legislation that has been allowed to circle through the state’s houses of government unimpeded and become the law of the land.
If Alabama Democrats want change in this state, change that benefits the least of us and puts under heel those who have exploited so many for selfish gain, it must first change the makeup of its party – the first step is to remove party Chairwoman Nancy Worley and Conference Chair Joe Reed, who have effectively decimated Democratic power in the state and stared lifelessly as it was drug through the streets, drawn and quartered.
How this can be done is anyone’s guess, though an old-fashioned mutiny among the working ranks of the party might do the trick – one would recommend national party intervention, but that has already happened and neither Reed nor Worley seem deterred or even affected.
Beyond that, the party leaders must start waving the banners being carried by its young, progressive constituents – protections for the LGBTQ community, an increased minimum wage, criminal justice reform, efforts to curb climate change and address income inequality – and it must do so loudly, so that its voice can’t simply be dismissed by its conservative counterpart.
What this state needs is a militantly progressive Democratic presence, one that realizes its place in the nation as a sanctuary for rural people, minorities, low-wage workers and the like who make up the majority of this state’s population and are by-and-large the victims of Republicans’ twisted and senile agenda.
To be sure, I’m not a political strategist by any stretch of the imagination, but it seems reasonable to assume that Republicans, who are moving further to the Right each day and feeling emboldened to do so by an unhinged and misanthropic president, wouldn’t have such an easy ascent to the top if there were a principled and convicted opponent willing to go toe-to-toe with them in every battle, whether a battle for votes or a battle for hearts and minds.
Perhaps this is why we see ever-increasing rates of would-be progressive voters sitting out on election day – many would rather go hungry that slurp down poison and the state party has brought little to the table that inspires more than a crooked look and a sigh from its base.
From my perch on the left, it seems as though there’s little hope for change in Alabama – so many villains have been created by President Donald Trump’s administration and parroted by his conservative sycophants across the country that it’s a tall order just to separate truth from fiction, much less to humanize vast populations of people who have been made little more than dangerous mutants by a man known internationally for his child-like behavior and penchant for idiocy.
Maybe the real solution to the question of where progressive-minded Alabamians can turn for respite rests not in rehabilitating the state’s leftish political party, but in setting it ablaze and watching it burn while those idealistic could-have-been constituents mount their own campaigns, establish their own parties and become the voice of the trampled, disenfranchised and exploited people that make up the bulk of this state.
Democrats can’t be trusted to do it – not in this state or anywhere in this nation – but it has to be done and, at least for me, it would be better to see it done by a minimum wage worker with holes in his shoes than a lifetime politician with caviar on his suit.
Adam Powell is a journalist with nearly two decades of experience, currently working as a Staff Writer and Columnist for The Selma Times-Journal and serving as President of the Alabama chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists (SPJ).