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What electoral politics is vs. what it should be

Election season reminds us – as if we had forgotten – of what politics usually is rather than what it ought to be.

I’ve often heard Nick Saban and other coaches talk about the ability of their teams to “find a way to win,” meaning it doesn’t matter how the win is secured, as long as it’s secured.

Electoral politics is like that and in Alabama, it’s probably because Alabama Republicans are homogenous in many ways. Their ideas tend to come from the same small pool.

Although candidates occasionally express ideas unique to themselves, they usually reiterate vagaries about rebutting political correctness, ending corruption, and fighting the establishment.

Candidates have to gain the electoral edge in some way, and so they try by producing goofy ads like the one Rep. Will Ainsworth recently did.

“Career politicians might not wear masks, but they’re just as dangerous,” he says, as masked intruders enter the scene.

He goes on promising to “fight the Montgomery crooks and career politicians to save Alabama’s future.”

They all say that. Does it really tell us, the voters, anything particular about Ainsworth or how he would govern?

“I am the most effective job creator in the state,” Huntsville Mayor Tommy Battle touts, as if Huntsville didn’t have a rich and pre-existent job environment before he was elected mayor.

“Over the last 10 years I have created more jobs than all other Alabama counties combined.”

Battle’s desire to find a way to win blinds him to the fact that he’s undercutting a key conservative principal in framing his record: Government doesn’t create jobs, businesses do.

It’s encouraging to see Sen. Bill Hightower respond to questions about how he would foster job creation by providing a lengthy argument in favor of the flat tax, while his opponents say “I create all the jobs.”

It demonstrates a trust in the value of ideas, and a trust in the ability of ideas to achieve electoral victory.

The slogans, ads, and self-aggrandizement often entertain and might even persuade, but they don’t edify, nor do they tell voters what the candidates are really about.

Or, maybe they do.

@jeremywbeaman is a contributing writer for Yellowhammer News