Conservative tidal wave could change elections for many years to come

Published 10:10 pm Friday, November 8, 2019

If the recent election proved anything, it’s clear anyone who plans to win a statewide office in the decades to come better be able to pass a religious/morals test as administered by the Republican Party.

Several friends commented while the election results poured in Tuesday that Kentucky has clearly become a red state with Republicans winning all but one statewide race. Their only loss came in the race for governor and that was only because Matt Bevin insisted in insulting all the state’s teachers and pretty much anyone else who didn’t agree with them. Even his apologies sounded more like someone having to put up with people too stupid to understand what was being explained.

Almost a half century after a Supreme Court ruling making it a woman’s right, abortion has somehow became the most pivotal issue to decide a race in Kentucky with many making it the litmus test for whether a candidate deserves their vote. Republican leadership seems to have adopted the issue as a central theme of national and state campaigns. You see it even on the local level, although state and local winners have nothing to do with selecting the judges who decide the issue.

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I’ve criticized state legislative candidates and local officials in the past for bringing abortion and gun control into their races instead of talking about real issues where they have actual voting power, but it’s hard to argue that the strategy isn’t successful with many voters turning every election into who is the most holy. Bevin called religious leaders to the capital just before the election to stir up the vote in his favor, and the Harlan County preachers involved were probably as successful as any in the state with almost 70 percent of Harlan Countians voting for Bevin.

For anyone who was followed Harlan County politics over the past half century or longer, it’s a stunning turnaround from when UMWA Democrats dominated the local election scene from the 1940s through the 2000s. On a night when voters in the Harlan city limits voted in favor of alcohol sales, there seemed to no organized opposition to alcohol, as in the past. Abortion, in a sense, has taken over as enemy number one for the religious community, even when the candidates being elected have no direct influence on whether abortion is legal or not.

What’s ironic about it though is that there is more hate and anger involved in this election than others I remember, even with religion involved, and that comes from both sides. An ad published before the election threatened that God “would punish” anyone who voted in vote of favor of Beshear since he doesn’t oppose abortion.

Other comments have followed that reasoning. One person suggested that people in favor of Bevin voted for their “values” while those voting in favor of Beshear voted for “money.” That kind of arrogance is common these days with the logic that only the people who vote like them have values. Conservatives, it always seemed to me, tended to be the people who wanted less governmental influence in our everyday lives, but many of the self-appointed Gods in our midst found great satisfaction and moral superiority in damning all those to Hell who didn’t agree with their position on abortion or just voted for a candidate who didn’t oppose it.

It goes again my most basic beliefs to bring religion into politics or government, but it’s impossible to draw any other conclusions on the current state of election success in Kentucky, and that rings even more true for Harlan County. If you want to win a race in our county, you will have to buy into the conservative wave, or at least learn to sound like them.