When There’s No Middle Ground

twentytwentynews, middle ground

Clete Wetli, Contributor

The midterm post-mortems and finger-pointings have already commenced, and Alabama Democrats are bewildered, frustrated, and apoplectic. A red tsunami of straight ticket voting overwhelmed any wishful hope of a blue wave. Yet, Alabama Democrats keep making the same mistake they’ve made since Republicans stormed the statehouse and scorched the earth behind them. Alabama Democrats keep believing that there’s a philosophical or political middle ground and it simply doesn’t exist.

The Republicans know this and it’s why they’ve adopted the bullying and deceitful practices of Trump. They’ve figured out how to keep their base gorged on red meat and how to game the system to their own advantage through gerrymandering, voter suppression, and incendiary, deliberately misleading propaganda. This last election wasn’t about issues, it was about Republicans vilifying and demonizing their opposition. All who opposed them were labeled as ‘socialists’ or ‘un-American’ or a pejorative ‘other’.

They have deliberately eradicated the middle ground because it’s easier to maintain power by systematically dehumanizing the opposition. Sadly, Democrats keep trying to intellectualize and negotiate and compromise with an opposition that doesn’t respect them and seeks their complete political annihilation. While Alabama Republicans are thinking six moves ahead, Democrats remain stunned and paralyzed.

If Alabama Democrats are going to rise from the ashes of irrelevance, they need to remove their failed state party leadership and they need to do it immediately. They need a compelling, populist message that embraces their liberal ideals. It’s time to embrace the party platform and quit pretending there’s a lukewarm middle ground on issues like taxation, healthcare, gun control, and infrastructure. If you’re going to call yourself a Democrat, act like one and fight like one.

Democrats have allowed the conservative propaganda machine to go unchallenged. In a state where liberal media is non-existent, it’s the height of irony to hear conservative talk radio and television hosts decry fake news and liberal bias daily. Yet, Democrats won’t buy air time and they allow the conservative echo chamber to metastasize. While conservative Republicans saturate the airwaves with their messaging year-round, Democrats seem to give it a half-hearted try every two years and then act perplexed when it doesn’t resonate immediately.

Alabama Democrats had great candidates this past election cycle in spite of a dysfunctional state party that seemed to hinder more than help. So, it’s time to get back to work right now and not wait another year to clean house. It’s time to realize that in this hyper-partisan environment, there’s no middle ground and no one believes that “moderate” is a winning strategy. There is no excuse for not fielding viable candidates to challenge Republicans in every race. There is no excuse for allowing Worley and Reed to remain in their positions for another moment. There is no excuse for poor messaging or for failing to get the message out.

Alabama Democrats face certain extinction if they don’t change strategy and tactics. They must come to understand that the Republicans have ceded no middle ground and that it’s delusional to pretend any exists. Alabama Democrats desperately needs leadership with vision and a plan. They need to call an emergency meeting to show Worley and Reed the door and give people a reason to get involved. It starts with taking a bold stand and demanding immediate action. There’s no time to lick wounds or point fingers. There’s no room in the party for people that won’t get behind the platform or readily embrace its ideals.

Forget about that fictional blue dog. Not only will that dog not hunt, it ran away a long time ago and it’s not coming back.

We’re still with you, Wasyluka!

twentytwentynews, wasyluka

Franklin, Contributor

Now that the midterm election hangover is starting to wear off, there was one race that really stood out to the folks here at twentytwentynews.com and that was the powerful campaign of Amy Wasyluka for Alabama State Senate District 2. Her message was genuine and simple. Her energy was fierce and relentless. Her campaign staff and volunteers were loyal and dedicated.  She almost defeated the onslaught of straight ticket voting because she ran an amazing campaign that inspired people. Wasyluka gave us something to vote for instead of trying to convince us to just vote against the opposition.

After a gut-wrenching defeat by a mere few hundred votes, Wasyluka was back to work immediately, encouraging others to get involved in progressive causes and to engage in making their communities better. Wasyluka simply embodies the kind of leadership and character we need to move Alabama forward. She ran a positive campaign focused on healthcare, education, and infrastructure. We’re all praying that she decides to run again.

The Wasyluka campaign also showed us why it’s so important for more women to run for office. For her, healthcare and women’s issues weren’t an exercise in abstract empathy. She’s lived them. She became a voice for women who feel disenfranchised and ignored by a political system that seems to only recognize older, white men. Wasyluka knocked on countless doors and listened to the people of her district. She told us her story and we all felt like we got to know a dedicated, honest person instead of a duplicitous politician. It seemed like every day, she had something new and personal to say on social media. Wasyluka won our hearts.

Hopefully, Wasyluka will run again. During her campaign, she certainly inspired other women to get involved in the political process. In Alabama, that’s something we desperately need as women continue to be sorely underrepresented and marginalized.

In sharp contrast, Republican Kay Ivey won the governorship without doing much of diddly or squat. In fact, no one even knows what the hell she stands for or what her plans are for the state. The only people inspired by her victory are extremist Republicans who know that she’ll blindly rubber stamp any regressive laws that they throw across her desk.

So, as Democrats are still gathering signs to take to the Green Team for recycling and trying to figure out how they got decimated in the midterms, they ought to pause a moment and look at what worked in the Wasyluka campaign. First, she was genuine and always herself. She proposed real, workable solutions and gave people something they could vote for. She was running for something, rather than running against someone. Second, she worked with enthusiasm and spent every moment believing she could win. Her attitude was energetic, positive, and infectious. Third, she used social media to tell her story, rather than using it as a place to try and sell a political product or ideology. Last, she never muddied the waters. Her message was simple, understandable, and steady.

The people who worked on her campaign would do it all over again tomorrow. If you’ve worked in politics any length of time you probably know that not many other campaigns could make that type of claim. Wasyluka made us into believers. We saw that with her vision and her leadership, it was possible.

So, before we get distracted by the next stupid thing Trump does or the next embarrassing scandal or the next round of Republican dumb-assery emanating from Montgomery- let’s take a moment to learn from the Wasyluka campaign. At twentytwentynews.com, we were paying attention because we saw what a great Democratic campaign should look like in Alabama and why more brilliant, dedicated women like Amy Wasyluka need to run for public office.

We’re still with you, Wasyluka!