Enough, y’all! Please, let’s focus and consider what the stakes are in 2019.
Sadly, my social media feeds have been jam packed for a week with pre-primary mud-slinging, name calling, and general nastiness. Y’all, the 2016 primary is OVER. It’s yesterday’s jam, and it hasn’t aged well. It’s political poison.
And the 2020 election is almost two full years away. It’s tomorrow’s jam. And do you know what happens when you eat unripe fruit? You get sick, really sick. So tomorrow’s jam is also political poison right now.
I understand the attraction of the presidential race; I really do! It’s the “bright shiny object,” a race for what used to be one of the top world leaders. It matters who the US President is and people understand that. That’s why they come out in droves to vote and volunteer in presidential election years. Additionally, presidential politics is just more fun than the mundane slog of bills moving through the glacial legislative process or showing up at interminable city council or school board meetings.
And yet, as important as the President is – as consequential a choice it is for both the country and the world – what happens at the congressional, state, and local levels often has a far more direct impact on our daily lives. I’m talking about local public schools, infrastructure, racial justice, wages, insurance, etc.
But we’re often too busy thinking about the jam that we ignore the legislative sausage making that gives allows huge giveaways of tax dollars to big corporations, turns public school money over to private schools, or rewards private sector employees for refusing to do their jobs.
2019 Alabama Legislative Session Begins March 4The Roman Senate, this isn’t, but it’s what we have in Alabama. And campers, this next session looks grim. The 2018 midterms were a wave election for Democrats in other states, but not here. Alabama Democrats drowned in a sea of red. We came out of this election with an even bigger GOP supermajority.
The Legislature convenes a week from tomorrow (January 8) for their 2019 organizational session, and the full session starts Tuesday, March 4.
Currently, according to ALISON (the online bill/session reporting system), there are NO pre-filed bills. Now, at first glance, this seems like a good thing. The less some of these jokers do, the better off we are. But I fear a more sinister motivation. As the GOP became more comfortable with their supermajority status, they also became more dismissive of their Democratic colleagues and the voters who elected them.
It’s not unusual now for a controversial bill to be filed at night and then scheduled for a committee hearing at 10am the next morning – with no public notice and little chance for public comment. Unless someone requests one, sometimes there’s not even a public hearing: the bill sails straight through committee and to the floor (sometimes in the same day!)
There’s still plenty of time for pre-filed bills, and I’m sure we’ll see more of the Alabama GOP’s . In 2015, there were over 100 just prior to the opening of the legislative session. This year, expect even more antics as the GOP supermajority doubles down on its “4G Agenda,” aka “God, Guns, Gays, & Gynecology.”
New Congress Takes Office in JanuaryRight now, almost the entire US Government is an absolute mess. We have an incoming Democratic majority in Congress who can at least provide a check on the system, but it’s going to take huge public pressure to move the Senate. The Republicans have increased their majority, and most of the new members are just as ideological the House partisans who lost their seats in 2018.
There are opportunities for both the House and Senate this session.
The golden prize for Republicans is the federal judiciary. Remember, while the press and public were transfixed by the garbled daily “tweetstorm” from the White House, Majority Leader McConnell got two SCOTUS justices and 83 lower court judges confirmed.
There are more vacancies, and Democratic votes alone can’t stop them. A few weeks ago, South Carolina’s Senator Tim Scott helped keep Thomas Farr off the federal bench, but we need a lot more Republicans to find the same courage.
The golden prize for Democrats is the House, where we can pass bills on issues that actually matter to voters: protecting health care and increasing access, increasing the minimum wage, environmental protection, real oversight of the Executive branch, developing a humane immigration policy. and keeping the federal government operating.
This is the session where the Democratic Party can begin building a credible platform for 2020. The House can show the country what could be accomplished if we had the votes in the Senate and a competent President. We can’t fumble this opportunity.
Focus, Focus, Focus on the Important Stuff!In the coming weeks, we’re likely to see a bunch of Democrats announce “exploratory committees” or outright campaign organizations. Some analysts expect as many as 20 candidates. There will surely be someone for everyone. The media will be absolutely consumed by the frenzy; they’ll do everything possible to stoke discord among Democrats.
My hope is that Democrats don’t take the bait. Some level of primary infighting is normal. Politics attracts hardheaded, mouthy, opinionated people, after all.
But please keep this in mind when you’re “expressing yourself” about the election, particularly online:
- You’re likely fighting with your friends – particularly on Facebook. Is a primary election worth losing people who you share a history with?
- It’s too easy to be mean online. Before hitting “post,” consider if you’d say that same thing to someone’s face. Would you want to see that fleeting look of hurt before the flash of anger? Is it worth it?
- The media, Republicans, and Putin (LOL) want us fighting each other. Ignore Putin and his Puppets and slap the media around for being more interested in the horse race (whose up and who’s down) than in actual policy questions. Make them cover an election, not a prize fight.
- We’re not in jr. high school anymore (most of us, anyway). There will be a ton of good primary candidates. We can like and respect them all even as we pick a favorite. Sure, I may agree with Candidate A on 99% of issues and with Candidate B on just 94%, but that doesn’t make Candidate B or his/her supporters the enemy. Let’s not treat them that way. It’s destructive to the process and to our personal relationships.