James Fields

Editor’s Note: This interview is part of a continuing series on politics, both locally and nationally, leading toward the 2020 elections. The latest segment focuses more on the views of Democrats as the presidential election approaches.

James Fields knows politics, especially how Alabama reflects against the remainder of the nation.

Just a few days after the Alabama Legislature and Gov. Kay Ivey enacted an anti-abortion law with the intent of testing Roe v. Wade, Fields, a former state Democratic lawmaker from Cullman County, pondered the intent of the state’s new law.

“What this says is that it’s OK, Uncle Joe, you can rape your niece and the physician is going to pay for the crime, because a young lady was forced into something she didn’t want,” Fields said.

“We don’t need to kid ourselves here, we’re going to send girls and young women back to the alleys again because of what the Republicans call a test case. And you will ruin the life of a physician because of a law that’s unconstitutional.”

Springing from the abortion law, Fields shift focus to the national political scene as a reflection of the same problems Alabama faces in resolving issues.

“I don’t think government is so much divided as it is divisive,” Fields said. “And divisive brings with it a mean side. That’s where you don’t allow debate or even hear another side, and in doing so you hurt the people you are supposed to serve.

“I’m pro-life and every Democrat I know is pro-life, but I think the Republicans are trying to get back into the good graces because of the harm Roe v. Wade did under a Republican-controlled Supreme Court.”

The divisive nature of modern politics, Fields said, is reflected as well in the health care and immigration issues that generate emotions, but no results from Washington.

“Politicians are adopting fear tactics. They are not talking about the good things immigrants have done and are doing,” he said. “Instead they want to talk about M-13 gangs, that immigrants are going to rape and steal. But we don’t hear anyone talking how immigrants help us rebuild after tornadoes and hurricanes.

“I talked to a brick mason, whose employees are mostly immigrants, but he’s bashing liberals, Democrats or progressives — whatever you want to call them, yet immigrants are most of his workforce, and he wants to build a wall. Their statements don’t make sense.”

Fields said the immigration issue draws similarities to when slaves were sold in auction during the antebellum years.

“You were bringing them here and selling them on the auction block, because it was about the economy,” Fields says. “The auction block is still there, it’s just changed. We have people who want their labor and skills and cheap wages, but not their families, because they don’t work for this company or another.”

He also finds the same vilification in the national health care issue, noting that all Americans should have health care.

“When it was called the Affordable Health Care Act, everybody was for it, but when you call it Obama Care, there’s opposition,” Fields said. “President Obama only wanted to get it to the public and let Congress and the next president refine it.

“All this president wants now is to have Trump Care. The reason it’s not going away is because so many people use it, Republican or Democrat, and people who otherwise could not have coverage. That’s why it’s here.”

Although a Democrat, Fields said too little attention is paid to political candidates for their abilities and integrity instead of their party.

“We’re voting for whoever has the power of persuasion, whether it comes from pulpit or the NRA. People need to pay attention who they vote for. They would be surprised how much money is wasted on things,” Fields said. “If we’re going to follow Jesus Christ or be a Bible thumper, then follow it all the way through and see what He would do.”

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David Palmer has decades of experience in the newspaper industry. He currently serves as editor of The Cullman Times.

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