Tears and Laughter: How to attract the voters of Southwest Alabama

Last week five presidential candidates tromped through Alabama stumping and trumping and flexing their political muscles. They were talking about all of their many achievements and accomplishments and preaching about how much better life will be for us here in our great state, once we have faith enough in them to cast our vote in their direction.

Alabama has recently become more popular on the presidential campaign trail since joining with several other Southern states taking part in the SEC Primary election March 1, 2016. In the past, Alabama primaries have been held in June, after candidates have already secured their nomination. Because of this candidates have never given Alabama much attention. But with the changing of the date of the primary election, Alabamians can expect the heavy pandering and promising to continue.

All regions of the state will be targeted and residents should feel welcomed and encouraged to attend events and rallies of both Republican and Democratic nominees, as these are excellent opportunities to get to know the candidates and what issues they support.

I can’t speak about the needs and expectations of voters north of Chilton County or over on the east side of the state. And everything south of the salt line is a kingdom unto itself. But I pride myself on being an eighth generation southwest Alabamian, I know what the citizens of this area want in a candidate.

Any nominee seeking to attract the voters of southwest Alabama should first, no matter what, before any words are even spoken at the podium, sprint out onto the stage and throw a football into the audience. Then holler loud and jump up and down a few times. This is an ideal way to get everyone’s attention, and it will help the candidate seem more likable.

Also, candidates shouldn’t try and speak Southern if they don’t know how to speak it properly. We are very particular about it, sensitive even. We can tolerate a twang, or leaving our certain syllables, or drawling and rolling out a’s, but only if it comes natural. We can be judgmental about it.

It would be a good idea too if they could try and say a little something nice in every speech about the people here who provide for their families by working with their hands. They are the best of us, and they are too often overlooked.

And finally, don’t forget about food. All voters like to eat. Clarke, Marengo, Monroe…they are more open. Fry them some fish, boil a few thousand crawfish, host a barbecue, and they are grateful. But over here in Wilcox we are picky and peculiar as hell and we prefer only to eat the fried wing of the chicken. If they are salty enough and free though, we will, in return, vote early and often.

March 1 will get here quick. Now is the time for anyone who feels a calling or sense of purpose, or anybody who has any ability to lead whatsoever, to enter local races that decide how our city and county governments operate and are managed. Qualifications are being over 18 and having lived here a year. County Commission races are highly entertaining and voters are more willing than ever to elect better leaders, if they will step forward and add their name to the ballot.

Amanda Walker is a columnist with The West Alabama Watchman, Al.com, The Thomasville Times, and The Wilcox Progressive Era. For more information, visit her on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/AmandaWalker.Columnist.