Alabama editorial roundup: Nov. 7, 2018 edition

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Recent editorials from Alabama newspapers:

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Nov. 7

The Decatur Daily says it is time for Americans to remember their unified belief in a democratic process is more important than the boxes they checked on the Nov. 6 ballot:

Finally it’s over.

At least until the next election heats up, we will get a respite from mailboxes filled with flyers, endless advertisements demonizing the other side, and social media posts proclaiming one party or one candidate offers the only solution.

The acrimony leading up to Tuesday’s midterm elections too often was a function of deliberate oversimplification. Our state and nation face complex problems that are resistant to easy solutions. Simple fixes would already have been accomplished; the low-hanging branches already are bare. The remaining problems are inherently difficult, requiring level-headed input from multiple perspectives.

The intensity of this election was disturbing, but also a good sign.

Americans get worked up because we care. We are passionate in our desire to improve the state and nation. And we believe in democracy. We believe our vote matters not just to short-term outcomes, but to the long-term viability of the American experiment in self-governance.

While passionate advocacy has been an essential element of our nation’s greatness, so has the willingness to abide by the decisions of the majority. Every contested race on Tuesday’s ballot resulted in winners and losers.

It is incumbent on the winners to accept victory with humility.

The heavier burden is upon losers. They are frustrated today, and the temptation is to reject the system that dismissed their preferences.

But it is the system, far more than particular candidates or issues, that defines our nation. Our representative democracy — to paraphrase Winston Churchill — is the worst form of government except for all the others. It is chaotic and nasty, brutal and inefficient.

For all its rough edges, however, our system of government eventually points us in the right direction. We stumble and backtrack, careen to the left and right, but our nation’s history is one of progress.

The losers in Tuesday’s election — and most people who voted lost at least one race — need to step back. Beyond the barrage of tribal campaigning, can we see merit in the candidate or position we opposed?

Even if the answer is no, we should respect the system that allowed us to have a voice. Those convinced the election outcome was harmful have time to better articulate their message before the next election.

Our system is built on immense confidence in the citizenry.

We are trusted to both engage in the conflict of campaigns and accept disappointing results with equanimity. We are trusted to express our opinions with energy, but to reserve our greatest loyalty to a democratic process that often rejects our viewpoints.

Online: https://www.decaturdaily.com/

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Nov. 7

The Cullman Times on Garlan Gudger preparing to enter his new role as an Alabama State Senator:

After 14 years of service to the City of Cullman, Garlan Gudger is preparing to take the skills that made him successful at home to the often contentious halls of state government.

As a state senator, representing District 4, Gudger will no doubt face the challenges that have kept Alabama on a political roller coaster for many years.

The scandalous end of Gov. Robert Bentley, the indictment and conviction of House Speaker Mike Hubbard and others, and the odd departure to Washington by Attorney General Luther Strange, via the U.S. Senate appointment from the governor he was investigating, are just a few of the events that have eroded public confidence and diluted the ability of state government to move Alabama forward.

Gudger, however, prepares to arrive in Montgomery in early 2019 with a reputation of being willing to sit down and talk with the people he serves as well as those he governed alongside in Cullman. For 10 of the 14 years on the Cullman City Council, he was designated president and provided valuable leadership through a few difficult years and a lot of progressive years of growth.

The key in Cullman’s leadership in recent years has been the ability of council members and mayors to agree and disagree, but find common ground for the good of the residents they serve. That type of statesmanship, which serves well at any level of government, is often non-existent in Montgomery and Washington, D.C.

So, there is the challenge going forward. Gudger has shown the ability to reach out to others to find solutions and move forward.

Alabama has multiple pending issues that are continually pushed from one session to the next. How can the state improve workforce availability and training? What is the answer to dangerously overcrowded prisons? Why are the people not allowed to vote on something as simple as a lottery? Can internet service be brought to areas that are far behind in technology? How can schools become more consistent and effective across the state? Can the rigid funding formulas maintained in Alabama be untangled to better fund services? Will infrastructure improvements be funded?

Lower unemployment is Alabama’s shining characteristic at the moment. But all of the aforementioned questions weigh into the long-term viability of the state. Improved roads, better education, increased revenue and greater technology will create great opportunities.

Bringing Alabama to a higher performance level is not the job of one person. This should be a team effort of the Legislature working with the governor, even when there are disagreements. We are confident Reps. Randall Shedd and Corey Harbison will work closely with Gudger as he begins his tenure in Montgomery.

While Gudger’s presence and performance will be missed at the local level, we anticipate he will bring his endless spirit of cooperation and leadership to the Alabama Senate. Good luck, Garlan.

Online: https://www.cullmantimes.com/

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Nov. 7

Dothan Eagle on elections in Alabama:

All the conjecture about an impending “blue wave” spreading across Alabama meant little to most of the state’s voters, who sent GOP candidates into offices across the state by margins of at least 2 to 1.

That’s no surprise; Alabama’s conservatism is legendary. There’s a reason many consider the election of Doug Jones to the U.S. Senate an aberration; while there was a time that a Republican candidate wouldn’t have had a chance at election, today it’s the Democrats who struggle to mount a successful run.

Not that it’s impossible. State Rep. Dexter Grimsley, a Democrat from Henry County, bested GOP challenger Ron Wilson to be elected to another term on Tuesday, and unchallenged Houston County Commissioner Curtis Harvey was returned to office, both likely on the strength of incumbency. Henry County Sheriff Will Maddox, a Democrat, also retained his office, holding off GOP challenger Jay Henry.

Other local Republicans breezed in without a fight; most local offices held by GOP officials were unchallenged, and those that were easily defeated challengers.

We offer our congratulations to the winners, and condolences to those who didn’t prevail. …

Online: https://www.dothaneagle.com/

Republished with permission from the Associated Press.

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