The Birmingham News reports that a couple of relatively new groups of Democrats have emerged in overwhelmingly Republican Shelby County.
It's nice to know there are some Democrats in Shelby County besides my wife and me. The Shelby County Grassroots Democrats formed earlier this year. They are teaming with the state-affiliated Shelby County Democratic Party, which had been inactive for several years until last summer.
The groups have 150 or so members, and interest evidently is on the upswing, driven partly by disenchantment over the Iraq war, an influx of new residents, and aggressive recruiting.
Legal Schnauzer certainly applauds these efforts. I spend a considerable amount of time exposing Republican corruption in Shelby County, and I soon will be going into great detail on the sleaze that takes place at the courthouse in Columbiana. But there are actually a lot of attractive qualities about Shelby County--as long as you avoid Columbiana and its god-awful courthouse.
Heck, Michael Jordan chose to live in Shelby County while he played for the Birmingham Barons, so the place must have something going for it.
"A lot of Shelby County Democrats really haven't been given any choices or reasons to come out and vote because we haven't had many people on the ballots," says Dick Bell, chairman of the state-affiliated group. "That goes a long way in dampening the spirits."
I'll say. My wife and I have given up on voting in most primaries because there usually aren't any Democrats to vote for. And we've given up voting in any election that involves a possible tax increase to support schools, libraries, etc. We have no children, but we always have voted for taxes to support schools. And they always fail, evidently because Republicans with children vote against them. Amazing.
Democratic groups in Shelby County have a tough road ahead if they hope to make an impact in their area. I see a frightening form of group-think in this county among the white middle and upper classes. I think they give little if any thought to their vote, beyond pulling that GOP lever.
No matter how awful the Bush administration gets, I suspect these voters will be going Republican all the way next time around.
If we had a military draft and their little Justin or Blake was a threat to get shipped to Iraq or Afghanistan (or Iran or North Korea), things might change. But as long as the white middle and upper classes aren't asked to sacrifice for the neocon's international misadventures (and domestic corruption), those voters will continue to go Republican, I'm afraid. Hope it's not that way in other parts of the country. But that's the way it appears to be in Shelby County, Alabama.
A few years back, my wife and went to our polling place for a primary election. We got there fairly early, but it looked like at least 200-300 people had already gone through the line. When we got to the front and asked for a Democratic Party ballot, the older gentlemen manning the table looked at us like we were Creatures from the Black Lagoon. Then, I saw why he was so stunned. Before receiving our ballots, we had to put our names on a sign-in sheet. Ours were the first names on the list. I would love to know how long it took for another Democrat to sign up.
Bell says his group has grown from 30 members to about 100 in the past year. The grassroots group has grown from six members in February to 35 now, with an e-mail group of 80.
I wonder how ballsy these new Democratic groups might be. The highest-ranking elected officials in the county are the circuit judges. They are all Republican, and I have overwhelming evidence that at least three of them are corrupt to the core. (One of the Republicans, Hub Harrington, is a Siegelman appointee and is a Republican in name only in this county; I've had indirect dealings with him in my case, and I was rather impressed. He's the only judge down there that I have any faith in at all. It must be tough for him to serve while surrounded by hacks like J. Michael Joiner, G. Dan Reeves, and Ron Jackson.)
If Shelby County Democrats really want to make some noise, I know an issue they could sink their teeth into. Dick Bell is an attorney, and he would have to have an unusual surplus of courage (and testicles the size of Wisconsin) to take on the right-wing legal establishment in Shelby County. But stranger things have happened, I guess.
The tone of the News story was a bit dismissive, I thought. It was kind of like: "Oh, look at these little pathetic Democrats in Shelby County. Aren't they cute?"
Would love to see Shelby County Democrats shock the News and kick up a major s**tstorm. And I know just the issue they could use to do it.