By Bill Britt
Alabama Political Reporter
Outside the media room at the Alabama State House, reporters were visibly excited waiting to hear what promised to be biggest story of the week.
Senator Billy Beasley was to announce his plans for the 2014 election cycle.
For months, Senator Beasley has been testing the waters for a possible run for Governor.
Even as the Senator entered the room, the Press Corps was almost evenly split on what he had chosen: a run for the State’s highest office or a return to the Senate.
Almost as soon as the tall, stately Beasley took the podium, it was obvious that he was not going to seek the Governorship.
This very sober Press Corps was not treated to the biggest story of the week.
But, for those of us who listened carefully, a story about life, and an honest and accurate analysis of the State of our State was heard.
And perhaps, even more rare, was the extra-added blessing of seeing a real man for all seasons.
Beasley is that unique, political creature that cares more about service than self. A man who sees his duty in such a way that dishonesty in thought or action for personal gain is anathema. He is our modern day Atticus Finch.
In a State House that has been overtaken by a ravenous, greedy beast, the silent spectators in the media room were presented its opposite.
When Beasley said that he had given many hours of thought and prayer to his decision, it was genuine and not the standard pious babble we are so used to hearing from politicians.
When he spoke about his love for his wife, his family and the people of the State, it was a sermon, not written hastily on paper with pen and ink, but one etched carefully over many years on the fleshy tablets of his heart.
A quiet ferociousness rose in his voice as he said, “We have people in Alabama who are hurting and we’ve got to provide opportunities for them.”
Most everyone in the room knew what he meant. Over the last three years, the leadership of the Republican supermajority has sold our State to the highest corporate bidder. Men of low character have treated the State’s working poor as if they were leeches on society, while a man like Beasley sees them as part of our Alabama family.
When he stated, “You know I feel so strongly about healthcare…I feel so strongly about Medicaid expansion in Alabama and our government has taken an opposite view,” there was a visible yearning to do something to ease the suffering of many.
When he said, “They are working…They simply cannot afford healthcare insurance,” there was righteous indignation in the timbre of his voice.
The Senator knows that the Republicans are not against healthcare expansion on policy grounds, they want the millions of dollars in Federal funds that will flow into the State—because we take every dollar we can from the Fed— but it is a political tool called Obamacare.
Beasley expressed his concern about the State’s educators saying, “We’ve got people who’ve devoted their entire lives to education…we need to give them more support to all facets of education…from Pre-K to Higher Education.”
Speaking about the State employees he said, “We’ve hurt all of these people…we need to do more for these people because the services they provide are vital and necessary.”
But in the end, it all came back to his love and devotion to all the people of Alabama, not just the few, the rich or the connected.
“136 years of Democratic majority in the Alabama legislature has provided some wonderful times for the people and now we’ve gone through 3 years of a [Republican] supermajority…If there’s anything I’ve learned in life, politics and the legislature is that if you can’t compromise, then this becomes a different society then I think we want to be a part of,” said Beasley. “I mean, if you can’t debate a bill that’s important to hear from both sides…to have the voice of the constituents of 35 senators taken away with a closure vote, that’s not fair to the people of Alabama.”
In closing he said that, “I hope I can be a stronger voice in the Alabama Senate if I’m allowed to return.”
In another place and time Senator Bill Beasley would become Governor Beasley. He is a great man with an enormous heart and a keen mind.
The scriptures teach us that for every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven.
Beasley’s season to be Governor may have passed, but his willingness to serve the people of Alabama continues.