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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Old Times There Are Not Forgotten

So, you think it’s tough to be a Democrat in your red state, huh? Consider Alabama, where political life in recent years has gone into a toxic downward spiral characterized by a deep and self-fulfilling mistrust of government and a preoccupation with such pressing contemporary issues as the public posting of The Ten Commandments.
Alabama’s latest agony involves the apparent failure (an automatic recount of the November 2 results will be conducted this week) of a constitutional amendment, sponsored by my friend Ken Guin, the Democratic Leader in the Alabama House, that would have removed Jim Crow language about segregated schools from the state constitution. The amendment was opposed by the Christian Coalition and other conservative Republicans because it would have also removed a Jim Crow clause denying Alabama children the right to public education, reflecting the temporary 1950s segregationist strategy of shutting down public schools altogether. Much of the Christian Right, of course, is as committed to the destruction of public schools as their seggie predecessors, if for ostensibly different reasons. The public argument against the amendment was rather different, based on a conspiracy theory that “activist judges” would somehow use the constitutional right to a public education to require tax increases.
The irony in all this is that Alabama conservatives are deeply devoted to the idea that the state’s economic future strictly depends on doing everything imaginable to attract business investment. But a lot of businesses aren’t terribly crazy about committing themselves to a community that can’t quite bring itself out of the 1950s. So the defeat of Guin’s amendment was really an atavistic two-fer: establishing a lack of interest in quality public education at a time when employers care more about a skilled workforce than ever before, and reminding the whole country of Alabama’s unsavory history of race relations.
I’ll be in Alabama later today for a training event, and intend to spend some time helping my Democratic friends plot righteous retribution for the damage the GOP is doing to their state.

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