“Did you move my car?"
We'd moved from Charleston to Tampa hours earlier.
Chris was barely awake, bleary-eyed from his journey.
I'd driven the girls in my car, which was stuffed with our belongings.
Chris manned the U-Haul.
He drove straight through the 2001 Florida wildfires.
During the last few hours of his drive, Buster the cat wrapped himself around Chris's neck and dug his claws in. Then, smoke from the Mallory Swamp fire grew so thick that he couldn't see the car in front of him.
We're still amazed that he was able to see his way through.
Emmy was two years old.
Wesley was seven weeks old.
I needed their clothes and diapers, so I zig-zagged the hotel parking lot to find the car.
I spotted our U-Haul but figured Chris moved the van to sneak the cat into our hotel room.
Where was it?
I raced back upstairs.
"Did you move the car?"
"Are you sure?"
By then, he'd pulled on his Nike's.
Dread knotted in my gut.
He ran out and returned, ashen.
"It's gone. It's been stolen."
How would we close on our house?
The check for our down payment was in the car.
All we had or needed, besides our sweet little girls, was in that car.
Even as I share this story, that same feeling of dread swamps me.
My gut is knotted.
And yet, I need to feel that.
I think we all do before the runoff election and before another November passes.
Before any more freedoms are stolen.
Is it just me, or do you believe somebody may finally take all we hold dear from us?
Could our lack of involvement finally have its way?
Sure, some of us stay involved.
But for all of us, it's a valid concern.
Chris and I had our car stolen from us that night in Tampa.
But in Alabama, we're about to have much more taken.
With D.C. money swirling about in Alabama politics and shady operatives doing their thing, will we wake up? Will we put a stop to it? Or is this just politics?
And who cares, anyway?
With gas at an all-time high - thank you gas tax and those who voted for it - and groceries putting the squeeze on everyone's wallet; with inflation smacking us in the gut, what are we supposed to do? How did it get this bad, this fast?
Who's watching out for us?
We say we're concerned about our country and our state.
But are we?
I'm looking at myself on this one.
Because it looks like our freedoms ebb away with each election.
They are stolen and then sold to the highest bidder.
They are given to the one who knows their way around the big dogs, who can get a seat at the money table, but who cares nothing for the little people, for us.
With marijuana and gambling bearing down, wobbly education policy, and still zero health freedom for us and our doctors, it feels like that day when I stood in the AmeriSuites parking lot.
The helplessness that I believe many Alabama voters feel, expressed itself during the May primary.
Only 23% of us showed up.
About 1 in 4.
Based on those numbers, I'm not sure anyone believes these things matter anymore.
But they do. Still.
And yet, there's an ugly truth that I'd be remiss not to mention.
The state of our state, the state of our nation, is ultimately on us.
And though it can feel helpless, we must stay in the fight.
There is no other choice.
Because right now, we're fighting to retain what's rightfully ours, freedoms that should've never been handed over - like they were during COVID.
Or perhaps, in a not-too-distant past, when the gas tax was enacted.
Or when marijuana was suddenly critical. And we, too, needed our weed cards so we could be like Colorado or Oregon.
That said, do you know who you're voting for?
What were they for before they were against it?
Have you researched claims made in their political ads?
Are they telling the truth?
Then, do we know who's running the candidates for office?
Who are our candidate's political operatives?
Who are the PACS that support them?
Just like it mattered to us that the police found our car. And our things. Ransacked and ditched in a housing complex.
A stranger stopped to pick up what they could and, with the help of police, returned it to us.
Could we do that, too?
Though much of this political process feels ransacked and ditched, could we stave off helplessness by picking up what's left? And by committing ourselves to see our way through the smoke?
Amie Beth Shaver is a speaker, writer, and media commentator. Her column appears every Wednesday in 1819 News. Shaver served on the Alabama GOP State Executive Committee, was a candidate for State House District 43 and spokeswoman for Allied Women. The views and opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the policy or position of 1819 News. To comment, please send an email with your name and contact information to [email protected].
Don’t miss out! Subscribe to our newsletter and get our top stories every weekday morning.