My wife and I are housesitting this week as it is Spring Break and the homeowners are on a business trip. The homeowners have cable, which is something my wife and I got rid of over a year ago. So we have spent a good amount of time watching the stuff that we used to love when we had cable: mostly The Food Network and BBC World News. On Friday night, however, I tuned into Alabama Public Television to catch Capital Journal. It is a fairly boring show in a state with fairly boring politics.
But something interesting happened that I had never really noticed before. At the end of the show, they brought in their two analysts to discuss goings on at the statehouse. One person covered the Senate while the other reported on the House. While the two reporters referred to the party labels of the leaders in the Legislature (obviously, all Republicans), they would only refer to the leaders of the Democratic caucus as “the leader of the minority party”. When they talked about amendments being offered to the charter school legalization bill that has become priority number one for Republicans, they talked about the “amendments offered by the minority party” and the fact that the bill had such an easy time in the Senate was because of the “outreach that Republicans made to the minority party”. Only a couple of times did the reporters mention the actual name of the “minority party”, and even then they were referred to by the much-hated “Democrat” truncation.
I am not in a position to know the political leanings of either reporter, though the fact that they were both Black leads me to disbelieve any partisan motivations on their part. So it left me with another, more realistic, and more terrifying option: the Democratic Party in Alabama is so dysfunctional, so irrelevant, so crippled by the factions that continue to bicker over the tiniest of stakes, that reporters on the state’s oldest political talk show on television are not even compelled to mention its name when discussing goings-on in our halls of policymaking. The two-party democracy as we know it in this state quite literally only exists on paper.
Needless to say, it is a great time to be a socialist organizer down here in the Heart of Dixie.