By Bill Britt
Alabama Political Reporter
In his Inaugural Address, Governor Robert Bentley cited, in broad terms, his agenda for the next four years. Among those items were the never ending hopes of budget, prisons and healthcare reforms.
When Bentley says he loves the State of Alabama and its people, there is no question he means it. When he says, “when I walk out of these historic doors having served my time as Governor, I pray it will be said of me what is said in the book of Acts of King David, an imperfect man but one called and led by God for a specific task, a man after God’s own heart.” There is little reason to doubt his heart.
The Governor owns the “Bully Pulpit,” but will he use it to lead triumphantly for his people?
For the last four years, the State has been decisively led by the House and Senate. They have rendered the Executive Office a sapless branch of government, while treating the judiciary as an irrelevant limb only good for hanging a noose to be tied around the neck of education, teachers and, perhaps, the Attorney General who is actually doing his job. The balance of power in Montgomery is severely warped in favor of a man who stands accused by the State of 23 Felony counts of public corruption.
Governor Bentley has no chance of achieving his goal of effecting change for, “the better and make Alabama even greater,” unless he wrestles power from the hands of Speaker Mike Hubbard and the shadow government of former Gov. Bob Riley. If he does not take control, then the words spoken about David will be replaced by the words of his son, when he said, “I have seen all the works that are done under the sun; and, behold, all is vanity and vexation of spirit.” There will be no lasting song of joy from the people of Alabama, only the continued lamentation of delayed promises of justice, quality and prosperity.
The fulfillment of these promises will not come from quietly negotiated backroom deals. There is no horse-trading with these men. They understand one thing and one thing only: power. Robert Bentley’s power comes from the people, not the wealthy donors or the corporate trusts, and he must use this power like a sword and not a scalpel. The question remains, will he risk some of his popularity to do what is needed?
The Governor said, “We will originate, evolve and initiate new ideas, new solutions and a new mindset rather than settle for the same status quo as years and decades gone by.” This is commendable, but the leadership of the House and Senate have trashed his ideas, tossing them aside like yesterday’s takeout.
In his speech, he graciously thanks the legislature for their, “efforts and cooperation over the past four years.” But, that “cooperation” has only come when it suited their wishes. Bentley has the respect of the people of the State, but the Republican leadership at the State House see him as Governor in name only, and not a force to be reckoned with.
Bentley owns the moral high ground, but he must fight to command the playing field.
The Governor says he wants his legacy to be one where he is remembered as an, “imperfect man but one called and led by God for a specific task, a man after God’s own heart.”
This should be the wish of every public servant and one that we should hope for Robert Bentley. But the Governor must remember that David was a warrior, who laid waste to giants, dispatched his enemies and reclaimed the land for the good of the people and to the glory of God. That is what imperfect men who are called by God do, because the barbarians worship false gods, at the altar of greed and corruption where they consume all that is good to fill their bellies.
The road to righteously leading our State is long and dangerous. Let’s pray that Governor Bentley will walk that road with courage and determination, because as he said, “government will never change, unless we change it.”