MONTGOMERY— Are Democrats the same, whether they live in the Shoals, California or Washington? Or does the “Alabama Democrat” label still signify a more conservative point of view?
“You’ve got a Republican Party in Alabama that is very good at painting Alabama Democrats as national Democrats,” said political scientist Shannon Bridgmon. “Functionally, that’s just not
the case; they are conservative.”
State Sen. Roger Bedford, D-Russellville, first elected in 1986, exemplifies Bridgmon’s point.
“I am pro-life, I believe in traditional marriage between a man and woman – it’s what God ordained,” said Bedford, who has pre-filed a bill for the 2013 legislative session that would allow Alabamians to keep firearms in their vehicles while at work on employers’ property.
State Rep. Marcel Black, D-Tuscumbia, said the Republican Party has done a superb job labeling Alabama Democrats as national Democrats. It goes both ways, he
“I would hope that some of our Republican friends don’t hold the same opinions as some of the Republicans on the national state,” he said.
Senate President Pro Tem Del Marsh, R-Anniston, said there are some variances among Republicans.
“But when you have a national (Democratic) platform that supports gay marriage and abortion, it is hard to shake those labels,” Marsh said.
D’Linell Finley, a political science professor in Montgomery, said Democrats in this state have to come to terms with their national counterparts.
“You don’t have to embrace every policy of the national platform, but you can’t have local Democrats running from the national party,” Finley said.
“At some point, Alabama Democrats are going to have to feel comfortable with the national Democratic Party if it is going to coordinate a national and local partnership,” Finley said. “On most issues, the major issues, the local party and national party must be in full sync with each other in order to form a winning coalition.”
Those major issues for
Finley include healthcare, educational, Social Security, Medicaid and Medicare. “Those are issues that would benefit local communities,” Finley said.
“When I see the Democratic Party, I don’t just see gay marriage. I see greater support for college federal aid, for Medicaid and Medicare and for infrastructure that would help many working-class people.”
Mary Sell covers state government for the TimesDaily. She can be reached at mary.sell@TimesDaily.com.