There are a lot of things wrong with the Republican Party. If every single one of them were to be encapsulated and personified in one man, he would surely be Alabama State Senator Scott Beason. Representing Birmingham’s predominantly white, lower-middle to working-class northern suburbs and their considerably more impoverished outlying areas, he is a person who harbors absolutely no aversion to extreme controversy.
It would seem that Beason knows nothing vaguely resembling shame, having been, as John Archibald of The Birmingham News extensively notes, writing in al.com, castigated by a federal judge as an opportunistic racist and thrown out of powerful positions in his legislative body by fellow right-wing Republicans. Beason is also responsible for almost bankrupting Jefferson County, and, to top it all off, was caught referring to black individuals as “aborigines.” Considering that the same article refers to him as representative of the “evangelical, tea-dumping wing of the GOP,” such a scenario becomes increasingly likely.
Bearing this in mind, it should come as absolutely no surprise that he is currently running for the U.S. House against incumbent mainstream conservative Spencer Bachus. The longtime congressman has become deeply unpopular with his constituency, centered around Birmingham’s historically wealthy southern suburbs, due to his apparently having taken advantage of insider information while making investments. Though not legally required to be one, Beason is a resident of Bachus’ district, which circles around Birmingham proper to include much of the former’s electorate.
This race, already highly competitive, should be very interesting to watch for reasons beyond the unique brand of entertainment derived from primary squabbles. On paper, the district in question is solidly in the GOP’s domain. A closer look, however, reveals it to be thoroughly factionalized. As stated above, directly below Birmingham, which itself is as Democratic as Baltimore or Chicago, lie a string of affluent communities which resemble the Philadelphia Main Line far more than they do The Dukes of Hazzard. Venturing above Birmingham, however, one finds that, aside from a few distinctly nouveau riche neighborhoods, one is squarely in the land of dueling banjos, populated by card carrying members of the GOProletariat.
Anybody who is even a fairly regular reader of my column here at Blogcritics must be familiar with this term by now; I coined it shortly after the 2010 midterms to designate typically Republican-leaning voters who dogmatically adhere to right-wing ideology, making electoral decisions rooted in sheer emotion as opposed to cool reason. They are nearly always on the lower end of the educational and economic spectrums, and hail from culturally monolithic areas, so their strain of rightism is rooted in populist socio-religious authoritarian schemes rather than fiscal policy. Simply put, they have been the fine folks consistently destroying the Republican brand since the 1970s, when disillusioned Dixiecrats and like minded reactionaries joined the GOP’s ranks en masse.
Whether Bachus or Beason wins, mark my words, will come down to whose campaign has a superior ground game. If the wine rack country clubbers from Mountain Brook outnumber the beer guzzling good old boys from Gardendale, then Bachus should be able to retain his seat on Capitol Hill. Should the opposite take place, though, not only will Alabama elevate its biggest embarrassment to nationwide prominence, but the Republican National Committee will have to do some serious damage control for the presence of such a boorish bigot in its congressional caucus. This is beginning to look like Delaware 2010 replayed, only with a dangerous demagogue rather than a certified lunatic functioning as the insurgent.
Let us hope that the final results are not at all similar to Delaware’s. However, as Archibald writes,
The 6th Congressional District may be the Honey Badger of districts….’It don’t care’ what Beason said, or what other people think. More than eight of 10 people in the district are white, and three of four were born right here in Alabama….Beason says people in the district….have backed him all the way.
Sounds to me like more of a hybrid between Deliverance and Mississippi Burning than the standard American political circus, which is nothing to brag about in its own right. Truly, how low can the Yellowhammer state fall?
I am afraid to find out the answer.