By Bill Britt
Alabama Political Reporter
“We have met the enemy and he is us,” is a famous quote from the comic strip, Pogo, by Walt Kelly.
After the 2014 elections, this should be the unofficial motto of the Alabama Republican Party, especially the embattled, Legislative and Executive Branches.
Gov. Robert Bentley is battling the House, the House skirmishes with the Senate and the Senate with itself. These are just a few of the wars being waged on Goat Hill, and things are going to get a lot worse.
Recent infighting in the Senate has turned nasty, with Senate President Pro Tem, Del Marsh, ironically punishing one senator and threatened another for doing their jobs. Marsh removed Senators Paul Bussman and Cam Ward from their committee assignments, because they exercised their God-given rights; mainly freedom of thought, and action.
Marsh seems to be borrowing from the Speaker Mike Hubbard playbook to bring holy hell down on those who dare exhibit their independence.
In many ways, from The White House to the The State House, we seem to be living in a new age of authoritarianism. The Republican front runner, Donald Trump, is hailed as a strongman, who will fix our broken politics, perhaps singlehandedly, while over on South Union Street, Marsh has determined that no republican may question his “education reforms” and no republican is allowed to stand up for State employees without being punished.
What was the sin that Bussman committed which caused Marsh to remove him as Rules Committee Vice Chair? Bussman spoke against Marsh’s PREP bill, which alters teacher’s tenure, has them evaluated by their students and a few other things that are making educators unhappy. Oh, and Bussman wanted a bill he sponsored removed from the Special Order Calendar. According to a report in the Decatur Daily, Marsh said, “these types of actions can’t happen, so we took action.”
Of course, the “We” Marsh is referring to is not the Royal “We” as one might assume, given his actions, but the the Senate Committee on Assignments, comprised of himself, Lt. Governor Kay Ivey, Senate Majority Leader Greg Reed, Arthur Orr, Trip Pittman, and Sen. Jabo Waggoner.
Once upon a time, the Senate, unlike the House, was an independent body, with lawmakers given to challenging bills, individually or as a breakaway group. Marsh could not risk that Bussman, as a rebel with a cause, might endanger a bill that will further drive the best and brightest away from a career in public education. Heaven forbid that teachers should have a fast-track to tenure as a reward for hard work and low pay. And damn the fool who doesn’t understand that public schools must be replaced by charter schools or private schools, benefiting from the millions pouring in under the Accountability Act.
No, no, this will never do. We cannot have independent thinking. And we must never have an evidence-oriented pragmatist who leads to real results for real children.
Sen. Ward’s crime was to push for a vote on a 2 percent raise for public employees. This was seen as Ward’s attempt to have senators on the record, opposing the meager wage increase. Ward was to be granted a stay of execution, if he would apologize. He did not, and they never followed through on their threat to remove him as Chairman of Judiciary Committee.
These are just the latest examples of republicans waring within the ranks. No longer can they blame liberal special interests, namely the AEA. And, they are finding it very difficult to blame President Obama for all our State’s ills.
As failures mount, and good solutions seem to vanish like so many democrats after Hubbard and Marsh Stormed the State House in 2010.
People are beginning to realize these so-called conservatives have borrowed hundreds of millions of dollars over the last few years, while deferring promised payments. They have raised taxes and are planning, even now, to raise the gas tax.
Job growth in the State is almost non-existent, even though people were promised, Jobs, Jobs, Jobs and better wages. Well, they are stagnant at best.
Even through the republican’s vowed to clean up Montgomery, the leader of the House is under indictment with 23 felonies. Public corruption is rampant with more lawmaker’s to be indicted in the near future.
Today, it requires little effort for Republican politicos to find their most dreaded foes… they need to look only over their shoulder.
Correction: Sen. Ward was threatened with expulsion from his position as head of the judiciary committee, but the threat was never acted on.