On Sept. 24, not even 15 percent of voters in the First Congressional District primary of the great state of Alabama, sent former state senator Bradley Byrne and real estate developer Dean Young into a Republican runoff, slated for Nov. 5. This sweet gig, which makes $174,000 annually, opened up after Rep. Jo Bonner resigned to take an even sweeter gig with the University of Alabama, leaving a seat he had held since 2003 open. The winner will face Democrat Burton LeFlore in the general election on Dec. 17, but with this district’s history, the winner of the Republican run-off will most likely be our next congressman.

Sigh. Way to go voters.

But I guess I can see why the turnout was so low. Most of the campaigns were hitting all of the exact same notes, seemingly following the same old “recipe” given to them by overpriced political strategists who think they know what we want to hear.

(How to become a) Republican Congressman Pie

Two lg. cups of promises to single-handedly defund Obamacare
Two lg. cups of saying Jesus loves you the MOST and your values are the MOST conservative
1/2 cup of protecting the rights of the unborn
1/2 cup of hatin’ on gay marriage
1/2 cup of lovin’ on gun totin’
1/3 cup of self-aggrandizement
A dash of promises to cut spending and love for the Constitution and Ronald Reagan

Mix all of this together and bake for three months. Serve to voters piping hot in debate performances, radio, TV, newspaper ads and robo-calls.
Yield: A dismal 52,334 voters

If I were Lagniappe cuisine editor Andy MacDonald I would call this recipe “bland and uninspiring.” Candidates, we’re so tired of being fed the same old thing! Hence the low turnout! Don’t take my word for it, just look at the numbers. The proof is in the pudding, or in this case, pie.

I was really hoping Bonner’s exit would give us a rare opportunity to hear some fresh ideas. But sadly, the candidates stuck to the recipe handed down by the old guard.

Look, I know it’s south Alabama, and you have to say some of that stuff to get elected, and if we were in Seattle there would be an equally bland and uninspiring recipe for Democratic Congressman Pie, with its own set of exhausted ingredients.

But that’s precisely my point. It’s time for a new recipe for Republicans and Democrats alike. In case you haven’t noticed, Washington is totally dysfunctional.

And still we hear the same old thing.

Yes, values are important, but those are things I handle in MY house — I don’t need THE House to handle that for me. My children will grow up knowing exactly what our values are. That’s my job, not my congressman’s.

Social issues are important to me too. I want my gay friends — many of who have been in relationships with the same person much longer than my straight friends — to have the same rights as I do with their partners. Younger members of the Republican Party seem to be coming around on this issue, and I feel it’s only a matter of time before this changes.

Abortion rights is an issue that has been debated for 30 years and probably will be for another 30, as it is so polarizing. Same with guns. I doubt either will change much.

But these aren’t the ONLY issues that matter to us. These are not things I want to hear about in your high dollar TV ads.

At press time, the federal government has shut down for the first time in 17 years. This is insanity.

I don’t care how much you and your boys love huntin’ and heart guns, I want to know how you are going to make Washington work again. What can you do to work with your fellow congressmen and women on both sides to get something done and oh, let’s say, not let our government shut down?

The answer from the fringe element seems to go up to Washington and be an obstructionist or a schoolyard bully. (You know, because we teach our children with our good conservative Christian values that the best way to handle a problem is to yell, scream and whine when we don’t get our way.)

There is a way to find common ground without compromising your principles or “values.” We all do this in our own lives at home and work every single day. I don’t understand why this has become such an impossible concept inside the Beltway. It’s not that hard, unless you are absolutely terrified of losing a job that allows you to wear fancy suits, travel all over the world and have a dedicated team of people kissing your ass every day. (Term limits, please!)

Do you guys realize how sickening this is to all of us? We want you to tell us what you really think about issues and not speak in that non-committal, partisan line towing/talking point babble, non-question answering Washington language they must teach on your first day in Congress. Is there a Rosetta Stone for it?

We are all absolutely starved for just some straight talk.

Thanks for defining marriage for me, but could you also please define where all the money coming out of my paycheck is going every two weeks as well.

My husband and I actually made the depressing mistake of looking at just how much we pay out in federal taxes each month. We are happy to do our part and contribute to programs that are run efficiently and are effective in what they do. But there seems to just be so much waste with no checks and balances and endless amounts of unnecessary bureaucracy and pork exchange also included in those deductions. If we just had a third of that money back each month, it would be a sea change for our household. It would change the way we spend, save, invest and choices we make for our children’s education. Please remember you are taking REAL money out of real people’s wallets on every spending bill you vote on.

I don’t know what it’s going to take to change Washington. I hope with the record low approval ratings, Congress will soon realize we’re ready for something new. And even here in District One, we’re not looking for someone who is super partisan, super fringy/crazy nor someone who will just tow the party line. We just want someone who will do their job and look out for us — their constituents. The recipe is pretty simple.