When I was growing up, one of the most important lessons my parents taught me was to always remember who got me to where I am. Like that old saying goes, “you dance with the one that brung ya.”
As a state representative, I have tried my best to be true to that principle. So when I vote in the state legislature, I vote the way I believe the people back home want me to vote.
And when I was asked to serve as the House Minority Leader, I agreed on the condition that House Democrats will always be free to vote their conscience and never forced to vote against the people they represent just because a party leader or special interest group tells them to.
It is my core belief – and the core belief of all the Democrats in the Alabama House of Representatives – that we are representatives of our district first, and Democrats second.
A representatives’ job is to represent the people in their districts, not to represent their party. Because a party didn’t elect us, and a party boss in Montgomery is not going to re-elect us. The voters sent us to Montgomery, and it is our job to be your voice in state government.
Alabama needs leaders who will be your representative to government, not the government’s representative to you.
When our political leaders take their cues from Montgomery instead of the people back home, that’s when we get legislation like the Accountability Act and the Transvaginal Ultrasound bills.
I believe there are good people on both sides of the aisle in Montgomery, legislators who have a heart to serve the people of Alabama. These are legislators who want to work together to create compromise and do what is best for the people of Alabama.
But the problem is that too many other legislators are more interested in partisan politics or using public office as a stepping-stone to higher paying jobs in the private sector. And that is what is crippling us in both Montgomery and Washington, D.C.
Sometimes, some of our legislators forget about the “United” part of “United States.” Sometimes, our elected officials get so caught up in partisan politics and taking their cues from the party bosses in Montgomery that they forget about “the ones that brung’em” – the voters back home.
Our representatives should vote for what is in OUR best interests, not just what is in the best interests of some party boss. Our representatives our supposed to be exactly that – OUR representatives.
When I am in Montgomery, I do my best to vote how the people back home want me to. But not every legislator in Montgomery can say the same. I hope that when the people of Alabama go to the polls in 2014, they will consider more than just the party label next to the name. I hope the voters will look at the man or woman on the ballot and ask, “Is this person really looking out for me in Montgomery?”