Time to abandon extremism, work together

Published 10:19 pm Thursday, February 11, 2016

By Craig Ford | Alabama House of Representatives Minority Leader

There’s a fine line between standing up for your principles and political extremism. These days, unfortunately, political extremism seems to be the standard. There’s no clearer example of this than the reaction of Alabama House Majority Leader Micky Hammon (R-Decatur) to House Democrats’ legislative agenda last week.

House Democrats’ agenda includes a lottery, an educator pay raise, warning labels on e-cigarettes and pay equality for women.

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Rep. Hammon’s reaction to this legislative agenda was to say, “I am sure that Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton would be proud to endorse the Alabama House Democrats’ liberal agenda.”

My first thought when I saw that quote was: is this the best they can come up with? An educator pay raise is a part of the Republicans’ legislative agenda. What about the lottery? Democrats and Republicans have two very different lottery proposals, but we both support letting the people vote on a lottery.

So is Rep. Hammon calling his own legislative agenda too liberal? Is he calling Republican primary voters who support teacher pay raises and a lottery too liberal?

Perhaps Rep. Hammon can explain to me how putting warning labels on e-cigarettes is too liberal. E-cigarettes contain nicotine, which is addictive and causes health problems. Their advertisements are targeted to children, with 69 percent of children in middle and high school having been exposed to their advertisements. Putting warning labels on their products and advertisements is the least we can do to protect our children, and I don’t see what’s so liberal about that. Maybe Rep. Hammon can explain to me how it’s too liberal to pay women the same amount as men who do the exact same job? Women in Alabama who work full time make 76 cents for every dollar a man working full time makes. As a father, how can I look my daughter in the eye if I stand by and allow this kind of discrimination to continue? Paying women fairly for the work they do isn’t about liberal or conservative. It’s about right and wrong.

Unfortunately, Rep. Hammon isn’t alone in his extremism. Terry Lathan, the chairwoman of the Alabama Republican Party, recently told Al.com that Republicans don’t need, or want, Democrats opinions or votes. She claims that in the 136 years Democrats were in control, Republicans were not brought in on discussions about policies and leadership choices.

It’s time to abandon this extremism and get back to working together to govern our state and country. We need to leave behind the idolatry of ideology and get back to what our country was founded on: putting aside differences and coming together for a compromise that benefits everyone.