Alabama voters should support Walt Maddox

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Alabama voters should support Walt Maddox

Emma Royal

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Perhaps the most difficult battle in Alabama state politics is electing a Democrat to office. Alabama elected Republicans in every state and national election from 2000 to 2014 with the exception of the primary election in June of 2000. 

As a conglomerate of voters, the state has its blinders on. Far too many citizens enter the voting booth and tick every box labeled “Republican” without a second thought. And why shouldn’t they?

If Republican voters are middle-to-upper-class and generally prospering, there is no reason to consider an alternative to immediate self-preservation and continuation of what seems to work. However, Alabama is desperately in need of education and healthcare reform, especially in more rural communities. It is, far and away, time for Alabama voters to consider a future for our state beyond the scope of identity politics.

Walt Maddox is a Democrat who was elected as mayor of Tuscaloosa in 2005 and has been serving the city ever since. He did not face opposition for the office until the 2017 mayoral race, which he won in a landslide. Maddox’s most notable time in office came in 2011 when tornadoes ripped apart the city of Tuscaloosa, delivering a devastating blow to the UA community. Maddox’s quick, efficient response was unparalleled and he has since been named as a fellow to Harvard University’s program on crisis management in leadership. 

Maddox is running for governor on a moderate platform despite being advised to lend his allegiance to the GOP to increase his chances of winning the race. Maddox claims that doing so would not be in line with his values, which is especially admirable in the state’s political climate. 

Rural Alabamians will especially benefit from having Maddox in office, but unless the campaign gathers enough momentum, his message will not reach long-time Republican voters who have no other reason to consider an alternative. 

Alabama Democrats, especially young members of the party, must put their best efforts into electing Maddox. We are being presented with a chance to flip an office long-held by conservatives, and now is the time to grasp it.

Alabama’s state government has been in a bit of a tailspin since Robert Bentley resigned the office in 2016. Jeff Sessions resigned his post to take a position in Trump’s White House as attorney general and was temporarily replaced by Luther Strange, who lost a runoff race for the republican nomination for the seat to Roy Moore. 

Moore is best known for being removed from his seat as Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice for refusing to remove a monument to the Ten Commandments from the Judicial Building. He took up the seat again in 2012 but was removed in 2015 for continuing enforce Alabama’s same-sex marriage ban despite the Supreme Court overruling the law as unconstitutional. Trump himself endorsed Strange over Moore for the run-off race, and despite a large percentage of Trump supporters that call Alabama home, Republicans chose Moore over Strange.

Trump has fostered a wave of conservatism that he can no longer control. Those wielding the power of the alt-right are radical nationalists who have beliefs that extend dangerously beyond what Donald Trump has openly voiced. Needless to say, Moore is not a man that can be left unchecked in our state should he win the election. 

Though a senator does not directly answer to a governor, we can neutralize internal issues with a Democratic leader. Our best hope in helping to correct a conservative dominance in our state is electing Walt Maddox. 

Because many UA students are from out-of-state, it can be difficult to convince students to care about a governor’s race for a state they don’t live in full-time. However, as a part-time resident, you are qualified to register to vote in Tuscaloosa county. Voicing your opinion in the right place at the right time could cause a major shift in the political climate for those who genuinely need it. 

The University of Alabama is a state entity. Decisions made in Alabama state government will directly affect your access to and quality of education, not to mention the rest of your life should you choose to remain in state. Make sure you have a say in those decisions.

Emma Royal is a sophomore majoring in aerospace engineering. Her column runs biweekly.