The Curious Case of Alabamian Makers

It’s a funny thing to make something. We all make things in one way or another. Sometimes we grow things. Our bodies do it for us. Sometimes we try to grow things and babies happen. We build things, write things, sculpt things, sing things, dance things, move things, watch things, legislate things… always things, always making.

That is a part of all of us. There is the instinct to destroy, as well, but even that is a form of making things. The destroyer takes what is (like a wall) and makes it something else (like an opening) so that they can continue making the thing they want (freedom, tyranny, to be left alone).

Mostly, we do this alone. Despite a centuries-long rising tide of collectivist thought in creation, this doesn’t exist. Someone else made the computer I’m typing this on but they don’t own a piece of this writing because they made the computer. They own their bit of the computer itself. Someone is responsible as the maker. Someone, or maybe a small group of people, claims the benefit and the burden of their creation.

Except in politics. It is a curious creation, that. We rally together to bind ourselves to the tyranny of office. We debate, discuss, and sometimes die in the name of a system intrinsically designed to take resources from our personal lives on what amounts to a soft promise to give it back, transmuted from lead to gold, in the form of some service that we alone could not provide and at some later date… unless the other guy is elected and then all is for naught. Maybe this is selfish – I do, after all, trust the fire department to arrive without them first calling to confirm my bank account balance. That’s good. People care more when they’re both personally invested and need whatever the thing is. Maybe it’s altruistic – I do, after all, happily give up a portion of my income to pay the current medical bills of past generations. A bit of that is a wink and a nod to my own future but mostly, I’m paying for the folks alive today. I work to never need the benefit that I will pay into all my life. Government is weird.

The State of Alabama created something yesterday. Well, a portion of them did. OIf 1,344,000 voters, 22,000 chose to write in their votes. The whole campaign, watched the world over including by a reporter from the former Soviet republic of Moldova who traveled to Birmingham to observe a wild campaign between a radical theocrat and a Southern Democrat with mild party topic allegiances, was reduced by the Herculean efforts of certain voting blocks to those 22,000 who chose to write in their choice. 22,000. A small town. Smaller than the student bodies of many American universities.

Alabama is a historically Republican state. In some ways, it is Republican in name only. The beliefs here run deeper than that, more religious, more traditional, in some ways more offensive and in other ways rooted in a rather reasonable generational mistrust of government (case: the history of government) that is oft ignored when the state’s residents are maligned on the national stage. These factors swirl together into a cauldron of outliers. Strange things in politics happen here.

 

The world got to watch a thing be made yesterday. 1,344,406 people created it. About 20,000 people decided it. The two men at the heads of the campaigns gambled the benefit and the risk with the state itself. The nation played a part. Votes did matter, for once, as the victor claimed that victory by just 1.5%, just 21,510 people. The dicta of national politics melted as the scale shrank to nearly understandable levels. Whether your candidate won, lost, didn’t run, or doesn’t exist, whether you voted, didn’t vote, or oppose voting… we created a thing together. A shift in the long-rolling tide of entrenched politics.

 

That’s something.

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