Mean words will hold us all back

Published 2:23am Saturday, November 6, 2010

With every election cycle comes a wave of negative campaign ads that prove why politics is referred to as a “dirty game.” One of the more distasteful ads I heard was the robocall made by Senator Hank Sanders. Sanders, who represents Alabama’s 23rd District, said in the call:

“Hello this is Hank Sanders, Alabama state Senator, and I’m still mad as hell. I say hell no! I ain’t going back to the cotton fields of Jim Crow days. I’m going forward with Ron Sparks, Jim Folsom and others who would do right by all of us. I hope you are mad as hell and will not go back, and you have the power to choose. I will stand until hell freezes over for Ron Sparks for Governor and Jim Folsom for Lt. Governor on Nov. the 2nd. “

The ad was paid for by the Alabama New South Coalition. Sanders is President Emeritus of the group. In a CNN interview with Anderson Cooper, Sanders said he experienced Jim Crow-type discrimination growing up and said he feared it could happen again. Cooper pressed Sanders for facts about how a victory by Robert Bentley (Sparks’ opponent) and Kay Ivey (Folsom’s opponent) would take blacks back to “the cotton fields,” but Sanders had none.

Unlike Sanders, I’m not “mad as hell,” but I am disappointed that someone who represents me in the Legislature would stoop to such dirty tricks. “Fear mongering,” as Cooper called it. Others have called it “race baiting.” No matter what you call it, Sanders’ attempt to strike a chord with voters fell flat, and is very disappointing to me.

What Republican control of the Legislature means for Democratic strongholds such as the Black Belt, I don’t know. But I fear the part of the state we call home will continue to be ignored by those who have the power to institute real, meaningful change for an area that has been referred to as “Alabama’s third world.”

I can only hope the days of using horrible events from the past as an excuse why someone can’t succeed today becomes a thing of the past. We should remember the past, but until people like Sen. Sanders decide it’s time to throw away that crutch, the “mean spiritedness” that Sanders said was the reason for his ad will continue and the divisiveness it causes will continue to hold all of us back from greatness.

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