By Bill Britt
Alabama Political Reporter
Over the last several months, nationwide scandal has forced several politicos to resign from office. The list stretches from South Carolina to Oregon. But, here in Alabama, the Speaker of the House, Mike Hubbard, with 23 felony counts of public corruption hanging over his head, stands proudly defiant.
Is there something special about Hubbard, or is there something rotten in Alabama politics?
It may be that some in our State have succumbed to the moral weakness that befalls many men, women and institutions, that being the legacy of those who set aside what is morally right for what is politically expedient.
Last week, Oregon’s Governor Gov. John Kitzhaber was forced to resign his office after revelations that his associates created a paid position for his fiancée, Cylvia Hayes.
Initially, Kitzhaber refused to resign. But, the Oregonian, the state’s leading news outlet, called for his resignation, and that, observers said, sealed his fate. The Oregonian Editorial Board, wrote “More ugliness may surface, but it should be clear by now to Kitzhaber that his credibility has evaporated to such a degree that he can no longer serve effectively as governor. If he wants to serve his constituents he should resign.”
When al.com reported on the resignation of Kitzhaber, the headline read, “Oregon to have first bisexual governor in nation.” His replacement is Kate Brown according to the AL post, “The 54-year-old Brown is highlighted on Pinterest —right alongside Fergie and Alexander the Great —as a bisexual role model.”
Brown’s sexual orientation took president over the public corruption angle of the story, which is perhaps telling as to why the state’s leading news outlet’s editorial board has yet to utter a word against Hubbard, who stands indicted by the State on 23 counts of felony public corruption.
In Indiana, when the House Pro Tem Rep. Eric Turner was accused of wrong doing for his role in killing legislation that could have harmed his family’s business interests, it was his fellow Republicans who ran him from office, even through he was not found guilty of any wrong doing.
The same was true in South Carolina, when House Speaker Republican Bobby Harrell was force to resign over misdemeanor ethics violations. It was South Carolina’s Republican Governor who demanded Harrell step-aside. In Rhode Island, Democrat House Speaker Gordon Fox step down voluntarily and New York’ Democrat Speaker Sheldon Silver was laid low by the state’s media.
Here at home, the major traditional news sites have remained woefully silent, the Governor has passed the buck, and Democrats and Republicans in the House joined together to re-elect Hubbard as Speaker.
Here is the law and order of the South: The wages of sin is not political death, but reward or acquiescence.
Hubbard is not special. He is just like the countless others who came before him, who have ruthlessly accumulated and consolidated power and used it for their own personal gain. But, this again may say more about the State’s political culture and our media institutions, than it does about the man.
Unscrupulous and authoritarian leaders are not new to Alabama, nor to the rest of the world. They have been, are now and always will be around. That is why it is necessary that there are checks and balances from within government and we from without watch with vigilance and speak with boldness.
Far too often, our State leadership operates under the rule of “personal power,” which Dr. Ronald E Riggio describes as “using power for personal gain.” Dr. Riggo is the Henry R. Kravis Professor of Leadership and Organizational Psychology and former Director of the Kravis Leadership Institute at Claremont McKenna College. Riggo states, “Leaders can also become ‘intoxicated’ by power—engaging in wrong behavior simply because they can and they can get away with it (and followers are willing to collude and make such exceptions ‘It’s ok because he/she is the leader’).”
This aptly describes Hubbard and his followers.
However, there is more to Hubbard’s megalomania. His compulsion to impose his will in the House and over the entire State has led him to become continually paranoid and dangerously delusional, and his appetite for using force to control everyone and everything has increased greatly since his indictments.
After his reelection he has become convinced that he is not only special, but that he is the ultimate arbiter of what is best for the State of Alabama.
Ben Moreell has written, “When a person gains power over other persons–political power to force other persons to do his bidding when they do not believe it right to do so–it seems inevitable that a moral weakness develops in the person who exercises that power.”
Hubbard’s moral weakness has destroyed his ability to act rationally, and as the Oregonian said of Gov. Kitzhaber, “More ugliness may surface.” More revelations are coming on how he has breached the public’s trust.
The ugliness of his leadership will also be revealed, how he has used his power to not only enrich himself, but destroy others in the process.
Hubbard is petty and spiteful, and this will out him in the end.
Because the State’s media institutions and State leadership have failed to act on its moral responsibilities, Hubbard is left to rule over our State with impunity.
The decision to remain silent in the face of Hubbard’s moral corruption, now hangs like a rotting corpse around the neck of our State.
And all those who have not stood to demand his removal, will have to suffer the wages of fear and silent consent, which is shame.