Lately the Alabama political landscape has been inundated with topics that no matter how much bandwidth we dedicate to them, the status quo prevails. So little progress is made on some issues it is hard to justify the amount of oxygen consumed talking about them, yet here we go again.
Here are 10 hot-button issues that need to go away in 2019 either by resolving them once and for all, or just finding something else to talk about.
10. Guns: Every time there is a mass shooting, especially at a public school, the anti-National Rifle Association engine revs up. Hollow terms like “common sense gun control” are thrown around with no regard for what approach is feasible when anything is limited by the Second Amendment. Obviously there are things on the edges that can be done legislatively that can limit gun purchases. But can any of it stop an individual motivated to go on a killing spree? Would closing the gun show loophole have prevented the Columbine shooting 20 years ago?
9. Abortion: Although this could be a winner for Donald Trump in 2020 given the rhetoric used by “blackface” and/or “Klan robe” Gov. Ralph Northam, D-Va., and legislation passed by the New York State legislature, this doesn’t seem to be something that will ever change.
Some state legislatures, including the Alabama legislature, are trying to overturn the 1972 Roe v. Wade decision that legalized abortion by passing laws that criminalize the procedure. Perhaps this could change if Trump gets another appointment, but for now, it is hard to see the Supreme Court undoing 47 years of legal precedent.
8. Lottery in Alabama: Can’t we just go ahead and institute a lottery in Alabama? The reason this state doesn’t have a lottery in 2019 has nothing to do with the view of the ethics or morality of gambling. Instead, we’re at a point where the state’s gaming interests must be satisfied. If gambling is legalized in the Alabama constitution, then that could expand the gaming of the Poarch Band of Creek Indian casinos in Atmore, Montgomery and Wetumpka. If that happens, it could kill off the gaming at Alabama’s dog tracks, especially in Greene and Macon counties.
It will take an agreement by all the gaming interests in Alabama to finally get a lottery.
7. Voter suppression: Is there anybody in the state of Alabama who is legally eligible and wants to vote, but hasn’t been allowed? Who are these hoards of people unable to obtain identification to vote? Do these mythological creatures exist? Every year we’re told there are underhanded forces (mainly Republicans) that want to suppress the vote to hold onto political power. Meanwhile, the state’s Democratic Party can’t even put together enough of a get-out-the-vote effort to run a Twitter account.
6. Recreational marijuana legalization: We’re not anywhere close to this point in Alabama that recreational marijuana would be legalized. It is in a handful of states, but getting there in the Yellowhammer State in our lifetimes might be a longshot. Still, it remains a favorite political battle cry of libertarians. Perhaps the federal government could legalize recreational marijuana and take it out of the states’ hands, but even that seems like a longshot.
5. Climate change/global warming: Whether you believe in climate change or you don’t, why does anyone think attitudes can change on this? Each side disparages the other – either as anti-science troglodytes or as alarmists with a hidden left-wing agenda. The environmental left is better served to expose the toxic chemicals emitted into the air and water. Playing up an issue half the public doesn’t see as a threat isn’t going to move the needle for the environment as a whole.
4. Same-sex marriage: This train has left the station, and the anti-same-sex marriage crowd has been left behind. Most Americans believe in the spirit of individual rights, and this seems to fall into that category. There are still some holdouts akin to the Japanese guerillas that remained in the jungles of the Philippines for decades after the end of World War II. Potential 2020 U.S. Senate candidate Roy Moore is one of these such individuals. For the most part, they are irrelevant, and reversing the U.S. Supreme Court’s Obergefell v. Hodges decision that legalized same-sex marriage isn’t changing anytime soon.
3. Confederate monuments/flag: If a local government wants to have a Confederate monument or any other symbolism on display, then leave it up to the individual governments involved — city, county, state or federal. It gets bothersome when a candidate decides to use it as a wedge to bolster a campaign. Perhaps there is a philosophical debate to be had about monuments and when they’re appropriate. However, the blatantly cynical approaches some politicians use to exploit the issue do little to achieve a resolution.
2. Trump’s taxes: Why Democrats want to go all-in on this doesn’t make sense. If the president was doing something illegal with his taxes, wouldn’t the IRS have already found it and prosecuted it? The one agency in government that excels is the IRS. The Democrats have staked out hope in Donald Trump’s tax returns. Is this what finally gets him? No.
1. Mueller/all-things Russia collusion: If you want Donald Trump out of office, beat him at the ballot box. Even if you think he committed obstruction of justice, think about what a flimsy sale that will be to the average American. Making hay out of working with a foreign adversary for political gain is a layup, but that is over.
Now you have to explain the nuances of the law to achieve an argument for impeachment, a political exercise that is dead on arrival to the Republican-controlled U.S. Senate. Go where the odds are better — not by hanging on to the Russia narrative, but the campaign trail. And if you think the Russia narrative will work in the Iowa caucuses and New Hampshire primary, well have at it.
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