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What would it take for you to switch political parties?

Samuel McLure

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By Sam McLure
Alabama Political Report

If you’ve been a Republican your entire life, what would it take for you to change your political allegiance?

How bad would things have to get in the Alabama Republican Party for you to jump ship?

Would having the most powerful man in the Legislature, Mike Hubbard, convicted of corruption sway you? Would half a dozen more indictments coming down the pipeline lead you to question your affiliation?

Would Governor Bentley’s scandal with Rebecca Mason be enough to bring you to an existential political crisis? What if the Republican-controlled Legislature failed to garner the votes necessary to hold the Governor accountable? Would that do it?

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What if the Republican Attorney General told the Legislature to stand down on the impeachment proceedings, because he had it under control; only then to suspend the investigation; only then to be appointed to US Senate by the man he was charged with investigating? Would that do it? Would that be enough to push you over the edge?

If that doesn’t do it, what if the leadership of the Alabama Republican Party brings the disgraced former prosecutor, now US Senator Luther Strange, to be a speaker at the Republican State Convention? Would the celebration of this “appearance of” corruption be enough to make you change your political affiliation?

What if the Republican party failed to come to the aid of the Chief Justice of the Alabama Supreme Court for standing on Republican principles? What if the Alabama Republican Party stood by idly as Chief Justice Roy Moore was thrown to the wolves of a weaponized, intolerant, Federal agenda? Would the pungent taste of bile on the back of your tongue be the straw that breaks the camels back?

What if the Republican establishment tried to quietly push a government-expanding, Orwellian Data Collection bill through the Legislature? What if it comes out, only after a lengthy debate, that Governor Bentley tried to unilaterally implement this via Executive Order last year? What if it comes out, only after lengthy debate, that the sinister motivation behind this Orwellian surveillance bill is to make us more financially beholden to the Federal Government … that the Federal Government is bribing the States to track private data on their citizens? Would that do it? What if Republican Sen. Del Marsh, the next most powerful man in the Alabama Legislature, was a lead proponent this Orwellian Data Collection bill?

Will all this be enough to make you switch your political allegiance, Dear Republican?

What about you, Dear Democrat?

What would it take for you to switch parties?

Would reading Nancy Worley’s (Chair of AL Democratic Party) intimate account of being stuck on the toilet, in her public Christmas letter, convince you that the Alabama Democratic Party is beyond repair?

Would the Party’s impotence to deliver on much needed criminal justice reform lead you to consider other political alternatives? Would realizing that 1-in-3 black males will be incarcerated, with much-Much-MUCH of that do to inequities in the criminal justice system … and realizing that the Alabama Democratic Party is far from capable of affecting the needed transformation … would that sway you to dream of new political solutions?

Would the soiling of one of Alabama’s only Democratic oasis’s, Jefferson County, by the failure of the Alabama Democratic Party to vet its newly elected District Attorney, Charles Henderson, do the trick?

What about the national nomination of the worst candidate in history, Hillary Clinton, when a mannequin could have beat Donald Trump? Would that put you in a frame of mind to consider changing political parties?

What if your party got highjacked by special interests groups who scream so loud that they distract from your core values of helping the poor, developing infrastructure, and building the economy?

Would all this be enough to send you searching for better political solutions?

The Libertarian Alternative

Josh Tuttle hopes it will. The newly elected Chair of the Libertarian Party of Alabama was placed into office this weekend at the State Convention by the slimmest of margins – only one vote. The effect of that one-vote-victory on the Libertarian Party of Alabama would be hard to overstate.

Tuttle brings a vision and air of credibility that could lead the party to exponential prominence in the upcoming 2018 election cycle. From April 2015 to April 2016, the Libertarian Party experienced over a five-fold growth rate with percentage of new donors reaching 566%. With the increasing polarization of the two-party system, Tuttle is banking on another year of unprecedented growth.

Tuttle knows Alabama like back of his hand – Josh Tuttle is Alabama. He grew up in Madison, Alabama. After graduating from Bob Jones High School, he went to The University of Alabama and graduated with a degree in Finance. While in college, he joined the Alabama Army National Guard. During his service in the guard, he served a tour of duty in Iraq in 2011. During his time in college and while in Iraq, he became interested and involved in politics.

After being let down by the Republicans and their so called “free market” solutions and a hoard of other issues, he found the Libertarian Party, a party that truly has principles. “I jumped in with both feet and I haven’t looked back,” Tuttle says.

So what is in store for the Libertarian Party of  Alabama in 2017? Tuttle says that the Party “plans on showing the people of Alabama what true small government looks like. We want to facilitate the shift of power from Washington D.C. and Montgomery to the people. In 2018 you will have more options, and they wont be the lesser of two evils.”

The Libertarian Party of Alabama is busy creating county affiliates in places like Jefferson County and Shelby County, while increasing the influence of long-standing affiliates in places like Madison and Baldwin counties.

More than any other objective, however, Tuttle’s vision incorporates identifying and empowering talented candidates to run in the November 2018 election. “We need candidates who will carry the Libertarian brand to the next level,” says Tuttle.

And what exactly is “the Libertarian brand”? With this weekend’s dynamic leadership change, the Libertarian Party of Alabama is poised to represent the most principled virtues of both the Republican and the Democratic parties. “Simply put, it boils down to property rights. To put it in even more simple terms that our children can understand, don’t hurt people and don’t take their stuff,” says Tuttle.

The Libertarian Party is committed to limiting government restraints on the free market. Libertarians believe the principles of “the invisible hand” that created our country should continue to guide our country.

Libertarians believe that individuals caring for individuals in need is the most efficient and effective method of addressing the complexities of poverty. Libertarians agree with U.S. Rep. David Crockett, who in the 1830’s discovered that government is a poor vehicle for meeting the needs of the community.

Libertarians promote true tolerance and seek to strip away government regulations which seek to criminalize subjective morality. Libertarian ideals seek to reform the criminal justice system which has so ubiquitously and inequitably impacted at-risk minorities.

The Libertarian principle of non-aggression, leads to a robust protection of persons at all phases of development.

Truly, the Libertarian Party of Alabama is poised to attract virtuous advocates from both ends of the political spectrum.

What would it take for you to switch parties?

 

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Featured Columnists

Opinion | AG Marshall doesn’t need evidence, testimony to back Kavanaugh

Josh Moon

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Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall supports Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Marshall issued a statement on Tuesday (first reported by the Montgomery Advertiser) that says exactly that. He called the allegations against Kavanaugh “partisan politics.”

Let’s think about that a moment.

The attorney general for this state, without the benefit of hearing testimony from women who, by all accounts, appear to be credible individuals, has already dismissed the claims of these women and deemed it all a political sideshow.

The rest of the country, and even some Republican members of the Senate committee, are withholding judgment until testimony from one of those accusers is provided and the facts — such as they are — are on the table. But Alabama AG Steve Marshall has it all figured out and doesn’t need the evidence.

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I bet if you’re a woman in this state, that must make you feel all warm and safe.

But then, it’s par for the course for Marshall.

Remember, this is the same man who resolved an incident in which one of his male employees violently sexually assaulted a female employee in his Marshall County District Attorney’s Office by moving the woman — the assault victim — to the basement.

Other Republicans around the state didn’t join Marshall.

Gov. Kay Ivey’s office, in a statement to the Advertiser, softened Ivey’s support for Kavanaugh and instead expressed confidence that the hearing process would produce the appropriate results.

Sen. Richard Shelby, who famously withdrew his support of then-Senate candidate Roy Moore, said he believed Kavanaugh’s accuser should be heard and also expressed confidence in the hearing process.

Which leaves Marshall with just one friend.

Roy Moore.

In a public statement last week, Moore announced his support of Kavanaugh and encouraged the embattled nominee to weather the storm and claimed that Democrats had “weaponized sexual assault allegations.”

Moore, like Marshall, also said the allegations, and the timing of the allegations, are “politically motivated.”

Two peas in a pod, that Moore and Marshall.

I’ve never understood the argument that the allegations are politically motivated because of their timing.

You mean the allegations were uncovered at a time when the alleged perpetrator is undergoing intense investigations, making it more likely that the victim’s account will be taken seriously and thoroughly investigated as part of a political process?

That’s not politically motivated. That’s a simple fact of life. A lot of dirty deeds stay covered up simply because no one bothers to look.

Is that the case with Kavanaugh — has his SCOTUS nomination, and the subsequent deep dive into his background, uncovered the dark secrets of a man with a deep character flaw?

I have no idea. But I find it highly unlikely that his alleged victim, a current college professor, would subject herself to death threats and public scorn if she didn’t have a real story to tell. And I also find it hard to believe that the senators and others with whom she shared her story would allow this process to move forward if they suspected she was making it all up.

But we’ll know on Thursday, when the accuser will tell her side and the accused will offer his defense.

Waiting on such a process to play out only seems fair to both sides. But particularly fair when you consider the #MeToo climate in which we currently live — a climate that has exposed an embarrassing number of sexual assaults and harassments by powerful men.

Some of those assaults were serial in nature, and they were facilitated by attitudes like Marshall’s, which sought out any available reason to discount, discredit or dismiss a woman’s allegation of harassment or assault.

If nothing else, holding Thursday’s hearing will prove to an entire generation of men that you can be held accountable for your actions, even decades later. That assault and harassment is not OK. That consent is an absolute must.

And that you can no longer just lock abused women in a basement and hope they go away.  

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Featured Columnists

Opinion | Supreme Court rules states can collect online sales tax

Steve Flowers

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The State of Alabama’s fiscal year begins next week on October 1. Our state’s finances are not the best in the world. However, they got a boost from the U.S. Supreme Court earlier this year, The high tribunal ruled that states can collect sales tax on internet sales.

This was one of the most inequitable scenarios I have ever seen. If you went to the corner hardware store or Lowe’s or Walmart to buy a hammer and paint, you paid sales tax. However, if you bought these same items online you did not. That is not fair to the store or the state. What is even more unfair is if your wife went down to the local dress shop and tried on an expensive dress she liked and then came home and bought it online. How fair is that to the store, the clerk at the store or the state.

Finally, and thankfully, the Supreme Court clarified this inequality that had persisted for decades, since the inception of the internet.

Alabama had already gotten ahead of the curve in regards to collecting online sales tax. Through the wise stewardship of House Ways and Means Chairman, Steve Clouse, R-Ozark, we had joined 19 other states in passing legislation that companies were to voluntarily pay the online sales tax.

The legislation passed in 2015 was entitled the Simplified Sellers Use Tax. It allowed companies the permission to collect sales tax to be remitted to the state voluntarily in exchange for locking in a fixed rate of 8 percent no matter where in the state an online item was sold. As you know, the sales tax rate deviates throughout each city and locale. In Alabama’s case, the money collected under our SSUT Act was divided 50/50 between the state and cities and counties. The city’s and county’s half is disbursed based on population. The state’s half is divided 75 percent to the General Fund and 25 percent to the Education Fund.

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Chairman Clouse estimates that the state will reap an additional $18-20 million from the Supreme Court decision. The Supreme Court’s 5-to-4 ruling overruled decades of old decisions that had cost the state billions of dollars over the years.

The cases the Court overturned said that if a business was shipping an online customer’s purchase to a state where the business did not have a physical presence like a store, warehouse, or office, the business did not have to collect sales tax and remit to the state. Over the decades this has been referred to as the Physical Presence Rule.

Retiring Justice, Anthony Kennedy, wrote the majority opinion. He said, “Every year the Physical Presence Rule becomes further removed from economic reality and results in significant revenue losses to the state.” Retail trade groups praised the ruling saying that it levels the playing field for local and online businesses. President Trump praised the decision via Twitter. The President hailed the Supreme Court opinion as a “Big victory for fairness and for our country.”

Speaking of President Trump and the Supreme Court, it is said and it is very true that the greatest legacy a U.S. President can record is an appointment to the U.S. Supreme Court. Trump has had two in the first two years. Regardless of what transpires in the next two years of Trump’s reign, from conservative Americans viewpoint, this presidency has been a success.

The nominations of Neil Gorsuch last year and Brett Kavanaugh this year were BIG. Both men are in their early 50’s and will make a powerful impact on public policy and law in America for decades. Long after Trump is gone, his legacy as a stalwart, conservative President will live on through Kavanaugh and Gorsuch.

Both are also men of character with impeccable credentials. They are strict Constitutional constructionists and adherents. Their intellectual prowess will be indelibly inscribed into the Law of the Land for generations.

As former President Barack Obama said, the night that Hillary Clinton lost to Donald Trump, “Elections have consequences.”

See you next week.

Steve Flowers is Alabama’s leading political columnist. His weekly column appears in over 60 Alabama newspapers. He served 16 years in the state legislature. Steve may be reached at, www.steveflowers.us.

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Elections

Opinion | Walt Maddox has lost his mind

Josh Moon

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Walt Maddox is nuts.

That’s the only explanation I have for what the man’s doing — going around the state and trying to engage voters on the issues. Holding press conferences talking about health care and offering plans for increasing Medicaid coverage.

The guy’s got an infrastructure plan. He’s got an education plan.

He’s got details and costs and information on how we can do it all and actually pay for it.

And this nonsense is what he believes will get him elected governor.

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See? Nutty as a fruitcake, that Walt Maddox.

Because Alabama voters do not care about such trivial things as an improved quality of life, better education for their kids and increased job opportunities that actually pay you enough to live and eat.

They don’t care.

Trust me on this. I’ve been banging my head against this particular wall for all of my life.

I screamed and screamed and screamed some more over Medicaid expansion under Obamacare. I pointed out the benefits and the zero costs. And I pointed out the meticulous studies done that showed massive increases in jobs, revenue and health services if that expansion occurred.

You know what people cared about?

That it was named after the black president.

That’s right. This bunch of hillbillies would rather drive across two counties while suffering a heart attack than give the “libs” the pleasure of knowing that their health care plan wasn’t terrible.

Oh, but that’s not even the most mind-boggling conversation I’ve had with Alabama voters.

That honor goes to anyone opposing gambling.

This is inevitably the dumbest debate. Because it starts with a flawed premise — that any lottery or gambling bill passed in the state — like the one Maddox is proposing — would “bring gambling to Alabama.”

I was in one of the three legally operating casinos in this state a month ago. I’ve known people who place bets with bookies or on online gambling sites. I’ve attended cash bingo games where thousands of dollars changed hands. I’ve bet on both dogs and horses, legally. And I’ve stood in line just across the borders in Tennessee, Georgia and Florida to buy lottery tickets.

Gambling has been here for decades now. The only thing we don’t have are the tax revenues that are paying for other states’ kids to attend colleges, eliminating other states’ food taxes and helping fund thousands of classrooms in other states.

But the voters here, they don’t care.

That’s why they keep electing goobers who vote against even allowing Alabama citizens to vote on the issue. Because democracy is great unless the majority is going to agree on something you don’t like.

This is the reality facing Walt Maddox, as he travels around the state on a bus, trying to pretend that Alabama voters know that a governor can’t influence either abortion laws or gun laws, but can ensure their children get to see a doctor this year.

The voters in this state are so unconcerned with the issues that they don’t really care if Kay Ivey ever debates Maddox. Because, honestly, they’d rather not know that she has no ideas, can’t think on her feet and can’t lead in a crisis.

It’s much easier to not know. To just vote blindly for the GOP candidate, convinced that it’ll all work out eventually (even though it never, ever has).

Walt Maddox foolishly believes that he can reason with these people, that at some point their sense of self-preservation will kick in, that they’ll grow tired of remaining stuck living paycheck to paycheck, that the GOP corruption will finally chase them to at least consider another option.

Basically, what I’m saying, is that Walt Maddox is nuts.

 

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Bill Britt

Opinion | The last refuge of a scoundrel

Bill Britt

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The Republican Party nationally and especially here in Alabama prides itself on its patriotism.

But what is patriotism?

Noted English scholar Dr. Samuel Johnson (1709-1784), best known for “A Dictionary of the English Language” wrote, “It is the quality of patriotism to be jealous and watchful, to observe all secret machinations, and to see publick dangers at a distance. The true lover of his country is ready to communicate his fears, and to sound the alarm, whenever he perceives the approach of mischief.”

Today, it seems that those who expose corruption or sound an alarm where there is injustice are often vilified.

It appears that rewards most often go to those who ignore wrongdoing or worse, enable it.

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Over the last eight years when scandal has rocked the state’s Republican political elite, the state’s Republican governor, Lt. governor, legislators and the Alabama Republican Party did not call out the perpetrators. More often, they remained silent or offered them aided comfort.

Only on the rarest occasions did anyone dare utter a word, much less raise the type of patriotic alarm Dr. Johnson wrote about in his book, “Patriot.”

Likewise, when Gov. Robert Bentley ran amuck, those around him remained silent or enabled his dangerous behavior.

The House did finally launch an investigation into Bentley, but only after it became apparent that he was too weak and incompetent to offer much of a defense. Still today the Republican led government chooses to pay Bentley’s legal bills rather than cut ties with its former leader.

When Speaker of the House Mike Hubbard was brazenly using his office for personal gain, not only did the Republican establishment support him, traditional news outlets, as well as radio talking heads and online media, remained willfully quiet, or in some cases voiced Hubbard’s defense or talking points.

It should be noted that Republican Rep. Will Ainsworth, who is the current Republican nominee for Lt.Governor, did stand in the well of the House and call out Hubbard for his crooked ways. At the time, many said Ainsworth’s political career was over, but they were wrong. There were also other individuals who worked in private to bring about Hubbard’s righteous end, but they were few.

Merriam-Webster found that patriotism was one of the top eight political buzzwords of 2016, but what does it actually mean?

The roots of political patriotism are found in the ancient understanding of the Greek and Roman concepts of loyalty to the republic and is “associated with the love of law and common liberty, the search for the common good, and the duty to behave justly toward one’s country,” according to Britannica.com

Over the last few years, patriotism has been confused with nationalism and they are sometimes used interchangeably, but there is a marked difference. Nationalism is more about the homogeneity of culture, language and heritage, while patriotism places its emphasis on shared values and beliefs.

Patriots may come in many forms, but patriotism has certain irrefutable qualities far beyond mere outward gesture; speaking truth to power, exposing wickedness wherever it’s found and holding high the sacred values that are enshrined in our founding documents.

It is neither the individual who stands for the National Anthem hand-over-heart or the one who kneels head-in-hand, but it is the one who lives the founding principle of our nation who shows patriotism.

Isn’t it time for Republicans here in Alabama to do more than mouth the word patriotism?

The patriot is ever watchful, ever ready and always mindful that there are those among us who will steal, kill and destroy the blessings of liberty while claiming that their’s is true patriotism.

As Dr. Johnson said, “Patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel.”

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What would it take for you to switch political parties?

by Samuel McLure Read Time: 6 min
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