With all the problems in Alabama government – Medicaid funding, GOP fantasy budgets, education cuts & ballooning college tuition, just to name a few – it's almost inconceivable that House Minority Leader Craig Ford and Senator Roger Bedford want to instead talk about guns in the workplace. (HB12 & SB24)
They're for it.
Ford wrote an op/ed for the Alabama Political Reporter discussing the issue. Alabama voters, he explains, shouldn't have to choose between their safety and their jobs. That's a perfectly valid statement but the rest of the piece is definitely a solution in search of a problem:
That is why Senate Minority Leader Roger Bedford and I have sponsored legislation to protect a gun owner’s right to keep a concealed firearm in their vehicle while on private property or property owned by a business.
Many people are licensed to carry firearms in their vehicles for personal protection. But some businesses have made rules prohibiting employees and other individuals from keeping firearms in their vehicles while on company property. That is why we need this legislation.
One of the basic lessons taught in high school government classes is that one person’s rights end where another person’s rights begin. Businesses can set their own policies, but they do not have the right to create policies that take away their employees constitutional rights – especially when the employee is no longer on company time or property.
Um…. businesses interfere with their employees' constitutional rights all the time. A few examples:
- Dress codes
- Prohibiting religious proselytizing or political activities on company time.
- Refusing to hire smokers.
- Forcing employees to sign into their personal FB page so the interviewer can snoop.
But let's look at that second one since Ford specifically mentions that in the beginning of his op/ed:
When our founding fathers wrote the Bill of Rights, they made the “right to keep and bear arms: a priority. In fact, the right to own a firearm comes second only to the first amendment rights to free speech, freedom of religion, and the freedom of the press.
Does this mean that Ford and Bedford will next take on employers who restrict employees' ability to harangue their co-workers about “accepting Jesus,” “celebrating Solstice” or “voting Republican?”
I can stand on a street corner and do that at will, so why not at work? And why are these two Democrats focusing on something that Ford acknowledges is “secondary” priority over gun rights?
Yeah, that second question is rhetorical.
We all know what's going on here. There's a lot of speculation that Ford hopes to run for governor and he's done nothing to tamp it down. So instead of working on real problems in this state, he's taking a page from the GOP playbook and focusing on a totally irrelevant issue that's sure to get people riled up.
Hey, look at me! I'm a Democrat and I love guns! Those business people want to take away your right to guns! Guns! Guns! Guns!
Because that's so much easier than focusing on Alabama's terrible safety net and severe budget problems caused in part by the stubborn refusal to reform the state tax code. Ford, remember, is one of only a few Democrats who signed Grover Norquist's no-tax pledge.
Ford has had some good things to say in the past, and on some economic issues, he talks sense. Like when he urged a NO vote on the AL GOP's “Great Trust Fund Raid of 2012” and called out the GOP:
Does the state have so much money that we can afford to cut a billion dollars in government spending? Or are we so financially strapped for cash that we have to raid the Trust Fund of $437 million dollars (almost half of what Republicans say they are going to cut from the budgets)?
Republican leaders like to claim that they are fiscally conservative, but raiding the state’s savings account to the tune of $437 million to bailout the prison system and Medicaid is not fiscally conservative
Still, I find it hard to believe there's any principle behind this political ploy. It's nothing but pandering and it's not going to work. If 2010 taught us anything at all it's that Democrats can't win by sounding like Republicans. It's doesn't win you new voters, guys! In fact it loses votes because you depress your base. Republican voters will choose authentic Republicans and Democrats aren't going to be enthusiastic about the candidacy of “Mr. Republican-Lite.”
Crap like this isn't a path to electoral victory: it's a recipe for another 2010 election.