By SKIP TUCKER, Alabama Daily News contributor
The vernal equinox slipped seamlessly by, mystically doing whatever equinoxes do, but this one brought more than buttercups. It opened the natural political season, for good or ill.
Alabama voters, stomachs barely settled from a soul-scorching U.S. Senate race that felt more like a blow from a rifle butt, hoped for better political fare but should’ve known better. From experience. Voters are tasting bitter swill from campaigns turned edgy and raw. They were bound to. Election days in Alabama mean strange days indeed.
Those dauntless folks kind enough to read my column might know that a couple of weeks ago I talked about how today’s media hardly notices today’s realities, but sort of collectively wanders off into that very atmosphere where equinoxes play.
Last week’s column was about how elections sometimes do the same, and that brutal fixers remain at work. In a bit, I’ll meld some of those elements. First this, though: Those interested enough in current matters to read what my scribblings reflect surely are willing and able to cast an informed ballot election day, next Tuesday, June 5. And ought.
Here’s why: The population of Alabama in 2017 according to the census bureau rounds up to 4.75 million, of which about 4 million are of voting age. The Alabama Secretary of State says 3.3 million are registered to vote. In the 2014 gubernatorial primary, a total of 615,000 voted. Let that sink in. Just 36 percent of Alabama’s eligible voters chose your elected officials.
So, let’s line up 10 Alabamians. Less than four of them, on average, are passing and enforcing the laws you live under. And spending your tax dollars. Remember that because Memorial Day should be fresh on our minds.
My Dad, Staff Sgt. O.C. Tucker Sr., went ashore D-Day on Sword Beach, leading his guys and some Canadians. Soon after, he was sent home with a Bronze Star, a Purple Heart and a knee that pained him all his many days. For the record, he loved this country, respected the flag, and pretty much agreed with Saints QB Drew Brees, who said, “I kneel for the church and I stand for the flag.”
To those tiresome people who clamor that the ability to disrespect our flag was one of the rights for which he fought, my dad would’ve sneered, and said, “It is also my perfect right to despise your sorry ass.”
Well, er, yes, and I am almost sure there is a point lying around here somewhere. It might be the fact that a single vote matters. Those (tiresome) people who say it doesn’t might have a gauzy point in the major races, where a vote is seemingly lost in a great race.
It’s the down-ticket where a single vote matters most, and each year there are important races that hinge on a hairpin. We each own a hairpin, thanks to people like Sgt. Tucker.
Briefly, take a look at a couple of things from previous weeks. One is that 90 percent of American media is liberal, while at least 50 percent of Americans are conservative. (Alabama remains the most politically conservative state, according to the Huffington Post, among many others, with about a 50 percent vote.)
So, nationally, who is winning this contrariety. The 2014 elections gave the Republicans control of the Senate (and control of both houses of Congress) for the first time since the 109th Congress. With 248 seats in the House of Representatives and 54 seats in the Senate, this Congress began with the largest Republican majority since the 71st Congress of 1929–1931.
In his eight years in office, President Obama, with the not just full but fervent backing of 90 percent of the American media, saw the rapid erosion of the Democratic Party’s political power in state legislatures, congressional districts and governor’s mansions.
At the beginning of Obama’s term, Democrats controlled 59 percent of state legislatures, while now they control only 31 percent, the lowest percentage for the party since the turn of the 20th century. They held 29 governor’s offices and now have only 16, the party’s lowest number since 1920.
The current president of the United States is suspected to be a Republican. The U.S. Attorney General is Republican, and the Supreme Court and, as noted, the governing bodies of a large majority of states.
This is the nearest thing to absolute elected power in America since, some say, Coolidge, who brought us a little thing called The Depression. And sages say absolute power corrupts absolutely. Yet, to my mind, this is not the scariest part.
In its 2017 confidence poll, Gallup found that American trust in the mainstream mass media “to report the news fully, accurately and fairly” fell to 32 percent, the lowest level in the poll’s history. There has been a steady decline over the past 20 years, but this, Gallup says, is the deepest dive. It is not just the constant refrain of “fake news.” It is the fact that so much “news” has been proved irrevocably to be fake.
Let me make this clear, fundamentally: The only shield between the American people and government, be it fair or foul, is no longer thought trustworthy. Even when it is telling the truth.
That is a fact, and a fact is a fact. It is nothing else. And it is a stubborn thing. Scary.
Go Vote. Otherwise, it is unseemly to complain.
Skip Tucker was editor of the Daily Mountain Eagle in Jasper, then communications secretary for gubernatorial folks like George McMillan, Charlie Graddick and Jim Folsom. He ran Alabama Voters Against Lawsuit Abuse for in Montgomery for 15 years. He has published one novel, Pale Blue Light, a spy thriller set in The Civil War.