I was rather surprised to hear that Gov. Kay Ivey won the Alabama primary, and by quite a steep margin. Indeed, polls indicated that Ivey would face a runoff, even if narrowly so. But she received over 54% of the vote, with Lindy Blanchard coming in next with only 19% and Tim James following with 16%. 

Ivey has faced largely negative press of late, considering how the gas tax has burdened Alabamians’ already strained payments at the pump. Lawsuits are still filtering in from businesses she shut down during the pandemic, and conservatives were at a loss to hear her greatest regret in the recent legislative session was failing to pass a gambling bill.

What does Ivey even stand for? To me, it has seemed more and more like her main goals all involve gaining more money, and therefore power, for the state government.

Over the past few years, I’ve heard more complaints against Kay Ivey than against any other member of Alabama’s government. So how did she win? In a time when more and more people are raising an outcry against legislators who seem out of touch with what Alabamians really want, why do we still vote for the people who don’t represent us well?

Well, we had a chance to pick another governor, and we didn’t. We had a ton of alternative, qualified candidates, and Alabama still picked Kay Ivey.

Perhaps the discontented minority just always sounds louder, and most Alabamians really do appreciate Ivey. Or maybe as a steady, hardworking people, we don’t like change. We’d rather stick with the devil we know than the one we don’t. Stick it out, don’t rock the boat; is that the mentality behind a citizenry that seems to constantly get stuck with corrupt, heavy-handed or out-of-touch officials?

If that’s the case, in my mind, the majority has then lost the right to complain about her approach. I don’t think of Alabamian voters as out of touch, so how do we keep electing people who are out of touch with what we want?

Alabamians are known for wanting a few things from the government: don’t tax us a lot, maintain family, often Christian values, hands off our livelihoods, and don’t grow bigger. Ivey has broken all these rules in one way or another. She had a rough hand with COVID-19, so I can forgive her for that, but since then she seems only to have gotten more heavy-handed.

I’m left scratching my head. How did she win by such a large amount? How many other officials have been elected because they’re suave, homegrown in Alabama, have money, and know how to talk, while behind the scenes they’re slipping new taxes into unrelated bills and sending the state into debt despite our $1.5 billion budget surplus?

The more insider stories I hear, the more cynical I become about the way Montgomery is run. But after seeing these results, I wonder if there’s a problem with the voters. Everyone has the right to vote for who they want and to stick by their own opinion. I will die on that hill. I’m not upset that people voted for Ivey. I’m upset people have decried Alabama’s status quo and then voted for that status quo.

Do we lack courage? Are we not educating ourselves well enough? Is there such a high level of gatekeeping within political circles that people really can’t track an undesirable result (like the medical marijuana bill which many opposed) back to its source?

But I believe in Alabama’s courage and political engagement. Yet, where there’s smoke, there’s fire. A dedicated, educated voting base should produce competent, passionate, upright politicians. Shouldn’t we? I feel like there must be a disconnect here. Otherwise, why can’t we elect leaders who will finally pass school choice and throw these absurd gambling bills in the incinerator rather than passing them around like a hot potato?

I know we have good people in Montgomery, that the process is more complicated than I realize, and that some people do just like Ivey and other incumbents. But part of me wonders if our traditional Alabamian traits, like respecting authority and sticking by those in your small community, have been taken too far, to the point that people are actually fine having an ole’ boy, favor-swapping political club. Perhaps it’s so normal at this point that the average Alabamian doesn’t want “young whippersnappers with newfangled ideas” taking the place of older generations, even if they won’t change their methods and vote for the needs their constituents scream at them.

I think it’s worth examining ourselves and why we’ll oppose a politician’s approach and then still vote for them. It’s easier and more enjoyable to scapegoat our politicians. But it’s not, and can’t always be, just their fault. Elections have consequences, and we must constantly evaluate ourselves, grow and learn to make sure we are making wise decisions to elect wise attentive leaders.

Caylah Coffeen is the host of Prayers For Life Radio in Huntsville, and a millennial who speaks up for truth and a future as bright as the stars. Her column appears every Friday in 1819 News. 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].

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