Greetings from Alabama

Alabama State Capitol
Alabama State Capitol via Wikimedia.

Overwhelmed by pieces that tell you how little you understand voters from “the other side”? Yeah me, too.

Here’s a different perspective. “The Alabamafication of America” compares that state government’s history of populism, corruption, and Evangelical roots with the attributes of 45’s administration.

On the populist scandal side:

Back in the 1940s and 50s, Governor “Big Jim” Folsom was one of the most popular men ever to hold the position. To this day, many Alabamians say that if another Folsom ever runs for office, they’ll vote for him, because Big Jim famously paved rural roads to underserved places (including my grandparents’ childhood homes). Big Jim was also famous for his vices—in a televised debate with George Wallace, Folsom showed up drunk and failed to remember the names of his many children. His apocryphal line—“if they bait a hook with whiskey and women, they’ll catch Big Jim every time”—remains prominent in Alabama lore.

The lesson is simple: populism rises above all other concerns in Alabama. Demagoguery has a long track record of success in the South, and a politician who sufficiently channels that energy can say and do most anything—“grab them by the pussy,” for example—and still win by a landslide. George Wallace’s racism cost Alabama millions in economic development and outside investment, yet his populist appeal won elections. He served several nonconsecutive terms as governor, including one as late as the 1980s.

Trump won the election with the same flair as Folsom. With his cabinet picks and his agenda, it looks like Trump will govern like an Alabamian as well, with the classic strategies of a Montgomery politician.

And on how to keep your own safe when they might be up to no good:

Newt Gingrich has suggested that Trump pardon his family members in advance for any violation while he is in office.

Read the story