The state of Alabama has real problems. We have a terrible public school system, an underfunded Medicaid program that provides most of the medical care to children in this state, legal payday loan sharks that charge 456% interest to ensnare unsophisticated poor folks in an endless cycle of debt dependence, crumbling infrastructure, a governor under investigation by an alphabet soup of federal and state agencies, a House Speaker indicted on 23 felony ethics charges, and a Chief Justice who is suspended from office for defying the United States Supreme Court.
Our state is ablaze, and our government tries to put the fire out by pouring gasoline on it.
But to hear our elected leaders tell it, Alabama’s main problems are the Obama Administration’s efforts to take away our freedoms by insisting that same-sex couples have the same rights as opposite-sex couples, that transgender schoolchildren be allowed to go to the potty designated for the gender they identify as, and that women have reasonable access to reproductive healthcare and choice.
It is the politics of distraction, Alabama-style, where white Christian voters are willing to forgive every bit of corruption and incompetence in Montgomery as long as the politicos “stand up to Obama” and oppose abortion and basic human rights for the LGBT community.
Social media, which is inherently distracting, feeds right into the time-honored political fraud perpetrated by our elected leaders. Yesterday a group of Alabama officials condemned the Obama Administration’s mandate for public schools to allow transgender students to go to the bathroom or locker room corresponding to their gender identity, and the Twittersphere and Facebook lit up with angry posts about how that damned black president is taking away our traditional Alabama right to be bigoted. These are the same officials who have stood idly by for six years of despotic rule by House Speaker Mike Hubbard, a self-promoting thug who thinks he is entitled to become rich while he holds the most powerful post in the Alabama government.
Corruption? What corruption? Hey look, Obama is going to make your daughter get raped in a public bathroom!! There, now maybe you’ll quit worrying about corruption.
Perhaps the largest problem faced by our state is the legislature’s refusal to adequately fund the vital Medicaid program that pays for 20% of Alabamians medical care. Columnists and bloggers have written endlessly about the disaster that is about to befall this state’s healthcare system if the inevitable legislative special session does not produce a solution.
If the Alabama Legislature were an employee, it would be fired today and escorted from the building with no severance pay. The GOP supermajority is an abysmal failure when it comes to providing the bare minimum level of government services. Because of their incompetence people will die.
But as long as they stand beside our demagogue Chief Justice in shouting defiance at the Supreme Court over the right of gays and lesbians to marry, the electorate is distracted. They forget that disaster looms in the healthcare arena. Being opposed to equal rights for the LGBT community is enough to get elected no matter what a heartless incompetent you are as a legislator.
Oh the legislature is doing a great job. Don’t listen to a bunch of liberal bloggers. Hey, look, Obama is taking away our religious liberties by forcing bakers to bake wedding cakes for queers!! There, now maybe you’ll quit worrying about governmental incompetence.
Crumbling bridges and highways? Obama is trying to take away our guns!
Payday loan lobby killing off sensible lending reforms? Planned Parenthood is selling fresh baby parts at Publix!
Legislature killing Birmingham’s minimum wage increase? We are standin’ up to Obama ever single day!
It is nauseating, not least of all because it is effective. Our leaders know they have no accountability to the people for their idiotic corruption, so long as they mouth the right words to distract the voters with “Christian values.” Values like Governor Robert Bentley professed to have in his two gubernatorial election campaigns even though he threw away his marriage of 50 years and his self-respect over a ruthless woman half his age who had no qualms about submitting to his middle-school sex talk (and who knows what else) as long as she was in a position of power and money flowed into hers and her husband’s pockets.
Alabama is literally burning down. We need real government and real leaders to put out the blaze.
A distraction from the fire is not going to keep the house from burning down to the foundation.