In 2010, now-disgraced former Speaker of the Alabama House of Representatives Mike Hubbard penned a book titled ”Storming the Statehouse.” It was Hubbard’s account of how the Republicans in Alabama came to own in 2010 the majorities in both the state’s House and Senate for the first time since Reconstruction.
However, the way the Republican super-majority era in our state government has turned out, one wonders if maybe the book wouldn’t have been more aptly titled “Storm In the Statehouse.”
Anyway you slice it, Monday’s resignation of grandfatherly Robert Bentley on the heels of a sex scandal with his chief adviser completes a rather embarrassing trifecta for the Republicans. Has it ever happened in U.S. history when the heads of a state’s legislative, judicial and executive branches have all been swept out of office within a year?
First, there was the very author of the book that so proudly and vociferously celebrated the Republican rise to prominence in Alabama, Hubbard. The former speaker was found guilty in June 2016 of 12 felony violations of the state ethics law, basically meaning that he used his powerful position as House speaker for personal financial gain.
The most powerful Republican in the state’s legislative branch of government was later sentenced to four years in prison.
Then Alabama Supreme Court Justice Roy Moore – no stranger to controversy even before the messiness of his fellow Republicans became so terribly pervasive – was suspended by the Alabama Court of the Judiciary in September 2016 for urging Alabama’s probate judges to defy federal orders regarding gay marriages.
So, if you’re keeping score, now we have laid waste to the both the Republican head of the state government’s legislative and judicial branches. At least Moore, as much as I disagree with his politics, was removed from his position for taking a stand he believes in moral – or maybe political, but also appealing to certain religious groups.
All that was left was the Luv Guv – Bentley – and his charade to cover-up what amounted to – at the very least – a schoolboy infatuation with a woman years his junior that proved costly and embarrassing to the state’s taxpayers.
One almost felt sorry for Bentley yesterday, knowing that he’d lost his job, his pension, his wife of five decades and his personal and political respect. Somehow, he managed to belly up to the gubernatorial podium one last time to apologize, step aside and complete Alabama’s Republican trifecta of political shame.
And, yet, when the next election rolls around, many Alabamians will do nothing more than look for the candidates with the elephants beside their names.
My fellow Alabamians, you have been cheated, lied to, elected powerful men who wanted nothing more than to line their personal pockets. And why? Because you are tied to a single party and that party is having a party at your expense.
Our government is best, both on the federal and state levels, when there are two strong parties that will occasionally work together for the common good. And, even if that occurrence is rare, is it better to have a single party take advantage of the positions you’ve put them in – not to help you, but to help themselves and their friends?
I do believe that our new Gov. Kay Ivey will, as best she can, serve us honestly and well, as she said in her brief remarks after she was hurriedly sworn in on Monday afternoon. But we have seen at least three occasions where that has not been the case – and the three men involved have each occupied the most stratospheric position in their particular branch of our state’s government – yet we keep pulling Republican levers and not even considering an alternative.
If you taste your milk and find it’s gone bad do you put it back in the refrigerator with the thought that maybe it will be better later?
You buy more, fresher milk.
And if you’re smart, maybe you’ll even try a different brand.