I’ve been obsessing a lot lately about what happens on December 13, the day after the Senate election.
The candidacy of Doug Jones in a race against an extremist like Roy Moore has generated more energy than I’ve seen in this state since George Wallace’s day. Doug is running a solid race and has a good chance of winning. On the other hand, we have yet to see a poll that shows him leading. This thing is far from over. We have to keep doing what we’re doing – give to the campaign, talk to our neighbors, and volunteer. And we have to do it right up to the December 12 election.
But then what? Do Democrats declare victory and get on with our lives? And what if we lose? Do we declare it hopeless, and take up wood carving? It’s human nature. Winners get complacent, and losers scatter.
Either will leave us worse than we would have been if we never heard of Doug Jones. We’re in the mess we’re in because Democrats sat on our hands and let Republicans take over the state and the nation. We have seven gerrymandered districts and only one Democrat representing Alabama in the House – Terri Sewell, in the 7th. All seven are up for election next year, and some days I doubt I could fill a Waffle House booth with Democrats who care.
Until 2010, Democrats controlled both the House and Senate. Now, we’re outnumbered 26-7 in the Senate and 70-33 in the House. How could such a thing happen? Not because Republicans are right on the issues, but because they were politically smarter. They kept their eye on the ball and did the hard work of recruiting and training candidates, funding campaigns, and campaigning hard in places Democrats either take for granted or don’t seem to care much about. So we need some folks – a lot of folks – to step up and run for the House and Senate. It’s not that bad a job, really – $44,765 a year plus expenses for part-time work. We need others to provide the funds to buy signs and postcards, make phone calls, and bang on doors for them.
But that’s just the start of the challenge ahead in 2018. Let’s not forget we have to elect a governor, lieutenant governor, attorney general, auditor, secretary of state, treasurer, commissioner of agriculture & industries, a Supreme Court chief justice (surely we can do better than Roy Moore!), three associate justices, six appeals court judges, four state Board of Education members, and a whole mess of circuit and district court judges.
We done yet? Oh no, we’re just getting started. All through the state, we have local races for sheriff, probate judge and other offices. We have city elections in Scottsboro, Auburn, Bessemer, Gadsden, Huntsville, Phenix City and Mountain Brook. We have school boards to elect in Phenix City and Oneonta.
I’m sure I’m missing some – a lot, most likely. But this is where it starts. This is where we lost control of our cities and our state. The action isn’t just in Washington D.C. It’s right down the street, or across the county.
So yeah, I’m as excited about the Senate election as anybody. But when it’s over, there’s going to be a ton of work to be done. I just hope we can take the energy and enthusiasm we’re seeing now and put it to work at the local level, where the work gets hard and sometimes lonely.
Otherwise, we’re going to be wandering in the desert for an awfully long time.