The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.
Some running in 2018 under the banner of the Democratic Party of Alabama are certifiably insane.
Aside from Walt Maddox calling on Gov. Kay Ivey to participate in a debate — a tactic attempted by Ivey’s three Republican challengers in the GOP gubernatorial primary earlier this year, which failed miserably — Maddox is replicating the mistakes of recent past Democratic gubernatorial hopefuls.
Not only has Maddox surrounded himself with characters from the failed gubernatorial campaigns of Don Siegelman, Ron Sparks and Parker Griffith, but he’s also running on the same old ideas.
The lottery is the one idea of which the modern Alabama Democratic Party can’t let go. Every election, there is at least one Democratic candidate singing the virtues of legalizing this version of state-run gambling.
“Oh, if we only had a lottery. Just think, it might be the cure-all for Alabama’s financial woes.”
While it is true the finances of state government are fragile, if people don’t see and feel tangible effects of a budget shortfall, the lottery argument gets missed by most voters. The suggestion of a lottery being good solely because it gives the government more money is folly.
Most people don’t like the state government, which is known for its philandering governors, corrupt legislators and mentally questionable judiciary. Why give it more money if it is going to wind up being directed by these clowns?
The lottery thing is tired, stale and reminds us of 1998. It would likely pass now if put to a vote of the people, but it won’t be what gets you elected governor.
A modest proposal for a Democratic Party nominee for statewide office: Run against the status quo.
Try to forget the rules of ideology for one election. Quit trying to do the stuff everyone has tried already: Debates, lottery, expansion of Medicaid. That alone won’t get enough people to vote for you to win an election.
If you’re Walt Maddox or any other future Democratic Party hopeful, tell us you’re going to make things even better than they are right now, but do it in a way that appeals to a state that is overwhelmingly conservative.
It’s not about the ideological. It’s about running a state government that lives up to expectations — transportation, public safety, education.
You can’t say Ivey has done a lousy job. Perhaps you could tell voters where she can improve.
If you want to beat the incumbent governor, be you Republican or Democrat, run as a change agent. That’s how Donald Trump did it. He didn’t just beat a flawed Democratic presidential nominee in Hillary Clinton, he also defeated 16 other Republicans in a primary by being something different from Republicans of past presidential politics
Initially, Maddox was something different. He was a fresh face, not from the same old tired has-been faction in Alabama Democratic Party politics.
He wasn’t one of these figures like Lucy Baxley, who missed the window for old-time Southern conservative Democrats to switch parties, as was the case with Richard Shelby and Sonny Callahan. Maddox was an actual mayor whose progressive leadership transformed Tuscaloosa for the better.
Yet for some reason the Maddox candidacy has evolved and reverted to the same losing Democratic Party playbook.
It’s Don Siegelman 2.0.
If I were Walt Maddox and looking at a minimum 10-point deficit in the polls, I would first acknowledge I have to convince at least some percentage of Republicans to vote for me. To #Believe a Democrat get-out-the-vote push will be enough to win defies the laws of mathematics.
Doug Jones was helped by Democratic turnout last December. However, if not for GOP crossover votes in the state’s suburbs, we’d be looking at a Sen. Roy Moore today.
Who are those Republicans? Maybe they are Republicans tired of a government that is woefully unprepared for urban and suburban sprawl created out of all of this fantastic growth spurred by economic incentives.
Perhaps they are Republicans that want to play the Powerball the next time the jackpot eclipses $500 million and don’t want to drive to Georgia, Florida or Tennessee.
I can see it now — a billboard somewhere along that stretch of Interstate 10 in Baldwin County between the Wilcox Road exit and the Alabama-Florida state line: “Tired of driving to Florida for lottery tickets? Vote Walt Maddox.”
If the Democratic Party wants to chip away at a GOP stranglehold on the state and build on something that goes beyond the trick-play gimmickry of the 2017 election, Democrats must rethink what they are.
They can’t be the national Democratic Party, with a laser focus on demographics and social issues.
They can’t be the current iteration of the Alabama Democratic Party, with a goal of surviving and existing for the sake of existing. Things have gotten to the point where it would be deemed a small moral victory if the Worley-led operation could find enough competence to operate a Twitter account.
It’s probably too late for a significant course correction that will have a substantial impact on the outcome for Election Day, especially given we’re already Monday morning quarterbacking what’s about to go wrong.
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