In the early 1960s, then-Alabama Gov. George Wallace (R) campaigned for office with the slogan “Segregation Forever.” Today, current Republican governor Kay Ivey seems to be seeking reelection on the premise of “Coronavirus Forever.”
When President Joe Biden last Thursday announced his get vaccinated or get tested orders for federal government employees and companies employing 100 or more workers, Ivey was one of the loudest opponents of all the GOP governors. Biden said, “If these governors won’t help us beat the pandemic, I will use my power as president to get them out of the way.”
“You bet I’m standing in the way. And if he thinks he’s going to move me out of the way, he’s got another thing coming. I’m standing as strong as a bull for Alabama against this outrageous Washington overreach. Bring it on,” Ivey said in response.
Such bluster is predictable – if uninformed – from Republicans about anything that Biden says. But Ivey’s choice of words is particularly stinging when viewed in the context of the words and actions of one of her predecessors in the job, George Wallace. On June 11, 1963 Wallace literally stood in the doorway of the administration building of the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa to prevent two African-American students from registering for classes.
Ivey’s “standing in the way” comment has drawn a sharp rebuke from the executive director of the Alabama Democratic party, Wade Perry, who accused the current governor of “playing political games” during a pandemic that has killed more than 12,000 of her constituents.
“Now is not the time for feigned outrage or political rhetoric,” Perry said. “Getting mad and throwing a tantrum is not what leaders do. We’ve needed real leadership throughout this pandemic and Kay Ivey has failed us. 12,552 Alabamians have died from COVID-19. For these neighbors, there will be no more birthdays, weddings, graduations, and holidays celebrated – only an empty seat at the family table for a generation.
“Governor, quit playing your political games and work with Washington to find solutions to get folks to take the shot. Lives are on the line. It’s time to be a leader, not a Wallace wannabe.”