I guess we both spoke too soon.
In my last column, I praised Congressman Bradley Byrne’s political courage for calling Donald Trump’s remarks about grabbing women’s genitals “disgraceful” and “appalling.” Byrne went on to say Trump was “not fit” to be president, could not defeat Hillary Clinton and that he should step aside so his running mate, Gov. Mike Pence, could lead the Republican ticket.
Talk about kicking a hornet’s nest.
The man took some heat, but let’s face it, many moderate Republicans feel exactly the same way as Byrne but are too chicken to say so.
They have either opted to remain silent or to spew some strange contradictory political word stew, saying something to the effect of “I love my wife and daughters and Trump’s words were horrible and I disavow them in every way and I think he is a disgusting pig, but he’s still the best option for our country.”
First of all, welcome to the insane new world we live in.
Secondly, I am so sick of the word “disavow.”
Thirdly, I had similar contradictory debates in my head in college about eating late-night gas station food.
“I know this frozen burrito is going to be terrible for me and for my digestive system in every way imaginable, and I find it so gross, but it’s either this or that sweaty wiener that’s been sitting under that light over there for God knows how long and there is no way I’m getting anywhere near that shriveled-up thing!”
Byrne, who represents one of the Trumpiest parts of the country, either decided to listen to some really dumb political adviser who told him his statement was a good idea and that all other Republicans were going to be following in their Brooks Brothers suits and abandoning Trump, OR he actually said what he really felt and was showing true leadership.
The last very, very tiny drop of idealism left in my body had hoped it was the latter.
But after being eviscerated on social media for making a seemingly principled statement by people who claim they are fed up with politicians who abandon their principles and/or will say anything to be elected, Byrne “clarified his position” just a few days later and said he would vote for the Republican ticket even if it the man he said was unfit was at the top of it.
So now everyone is unhappy. The people who think Byrne abandoned Trump and the ones who think he ultimately abandoned his principles.
(Also on another lexical note, I never want to hear the word “clarified” again unless it is in front of the word “butter.”)
But really, I almost can’t even be mad at Byrne. The country is so polarized, you just can’t win. No matter what you say about either the Republican or Democratic candidate in this election — even if it seems like something pretty reasonable, you know, like “vajayjay grabbing is not good” — a torrent of hate is going to come your way from somewhere.
I am just going to choose to believe his first statement was what he really meant and he just backtracked so he wouldn’t have to talk about the difference between locker room talk and sexual assault at his upcoming town hall meetings.
Hey, don’t judge me! It’s 2016, you can believe whatever you want to believe about your leaders to fit your own narrative, despite mountains of evidence to the contrary.
Anyway, I have just come to accept that the word “disappointment” is going to be associated with this election, and I am sure we are up for another wave of it, as more tapes of Trump being Trump will probably surface and/or more accusers will come forward. Or he’ll just Tweet something insane.
And there will probably be another WikiLeaks dump showing offers of “million dollar birthday presents” from Qatar to the Clinton Foundation. (I’m sure they wanted absolutely nothing in exchange, silly! It was just a present for Bill, for heaven’s sake, for just five little itty, bitty minutes of his time.)
I know, I know. It’s depressing.
But what you can’t deny — no matter if you are on the side of the freezer-burnt burrito or the shriveled-up hot dog (you decide which one is which and which one you can stomach better) — is that there is a lot of passion in this race.
Yes, sometimes passion can be a bad thing, like if it’s between a man and a mini-horse in Wilmer. But most of the time it’s good. And I do, for the most part, believe passionate supporters on both sides of this race really do want what’s best for their country and their families.
And I also believe if this same fervor was channeled into races that send people to Government Plaza and, even more so, to Montgomery, we would see a lot more impactful results here locally than anything a burrito or hot dog could do for us in D.C.
The voter turnout for local and state elections in non-presidential years is beyond pathetic and most of us don’t even know who our representatives are (which is how they like it) and what the hell they are doing up there, which is usually nothing, or something really stupid and/or unethical.
Some are so brazen and hypocritical they don’t even try to hide it.
Alabama Public Service Commissioner Chip Beeker recently illustrated this sad behavior perfectly. Beeker, whose website states he is fighting for Alabama’s 5,000 coal jobs and questions climate change, recently asked the Alabama Ethics Commission for an opinion on whether it would be cool if he leased 500 acres of his personal property to a solar energy plant to the tune of $5.6 million.
I hate solar energy unless I can make some fat coin off of it!
The commission did, to their credit, essentially say, “No, you moron, you can’t personally benefit from a company whose industry your elected office is in charge of regulating.” (I’m paraphrasing here.)
Good lord! Really?
Anyway, my point is, on Nov. 9, roughly half of the population is going to be really disappointed. I propose instead of spending the next four years buying hateful bumper stickers about whoever wins and posting memes on Facebook, let’s unite and channel this hatred toward Goat Hill, where we might be able to actually effect some real change for our region.
Let’s get a new governor who knows where shriveled-up hot dogs need to stay. Let’s get state senators and representatives who can balance a budget and who don’t bury good legislation that would help us because some lobbyist asked them to do so. Let’s elect leaders who don’t need a commission to tell them what is ethical.
My fellow Alabamians, we are indeed “stronger together” and I do believe we can “Make Montgomery great again.” Well, I’m not sure it was ever great in the first place, but you know what I mean.
Are you with me?