By Bill Britt
Alabama Political Reporter
Even as we celebrate our Republic’s Independence Day, it is evident that our State is in a moral crisis. Gov. Robert Bentley is running roughshod over the Constitution, the former Speaker of the House, Mike Hubbard, has been found guilty of 12 felony ethics violations and the State’s Chief Justice is being hounded by an appointed commission.
The crisis in Alabama stems from years of neglect, politics for personal gain, a false piety that mocks the basic tenets of Christ’s teachings, and a failure to value life above property and wealth.
The preamble to our Republic’s Declaration of Independence is perhaps the most widely-known phase in the English language. It reads, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” It wasn’t a new idea in 1776, but as the guiding principles on which to found a nation, it was revolutionary. At the heart of the American experiment was hope.
As a nation, we have never fully lived up to the ideals enshrined in this most rare document, but the idea has become part of the American DNA. Generation upon generation, these principles have grown to be more inclusive, more durable and yet, still fragile when placed in the wrong hands.
An all important element of the American philosophy, as embodied in the Declaration and Constitution, is the rejection of the divine right of kings, or God’s mandate, which asserts that a monarch is subject to no earthly authority, deriving the right to rule directly from the will of God. Gov. Bentley continues to claim his divine authority, repeating constantly that God has given him a mandate to lead the State. This would be laughable, were it not so alarming. His dalliances with top aid, Rebekah Caldwell Mason, his cruel treatment of subordinates, his unlawful use of funds for his pet projects and his delusional sense of self, has left the Capitol void of moral leadership and the State in flux and confusion.
The Declaration of Independence contains a list of grievances against the king, regarding “repeated injuries and usurpations” of the Americans’ rights and liberties. Many of which could be applied to our State and Federal government. In Montgomery, the people of our State are an afterthought, except for how to pander to “the base” to ensure votes for the next election.
Yes, there are men and women in public service who place civic good above personal gain, but there are too few in leadership roles.
Hubbard’s trial exposed the horrid underbelly of State government. The trial showed that under Hubbard, the Speaker’s office was coopted as an extension of Riley & Associates, Billy Canary of the Business Council of Alabama (BCA), and favored lobbyists. Under oath in a court of law, the tentacles of former Gov. Bob Riley’s shadow government were partially uncovered, yet, today, his minions continue to operate at the highest level of State government. Like those colonist who remained loyal to King George they are traitors in our ranks who should be identified and removed from power. Our State cannot move forward with the Rileys in the shadows and Canary atop the BCA.
As for Chief Justice Moore, the passions on both side of the cultural divide have clouded the issue. In a state where judges are elected by a vote of the people, an appointed court should not hold the power of removal, especially in a political matter. Chief Justice Moore has not been charged with a crime, he is not being prosecuted for a crime. He is being tried over a legal opinion which should not be settled in a “Star Chamber” of political appointees. It is not necessary to agree with Moore or his brand of politics. It is even acceptable that you despise his politics, but this trial, instigated by the Judicial Inquiry Commission and, soon to be decided by the Court of the Judiciary, smacks of the complaints lodged against the king in the Declaration of Independence.
Our State troubles are many, and our moral leaders are few. But, we know that a small group of committed individuals can change government for good or for ill. Just look at badly Hubbard,Riley and Canary damaged our state in pursuit of power for the privileged. Their day is over. Now is the time for a band of committed patriotic women and men to stand together and bring a new day of independence, that includes everyone and not just the elite few.
It is time for a new beginning lead by individuals with the moral courage, to take back our State from the money changers and false prophets and work to live up to the promise declared so long ago, that all are created equal, endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights. We should fight to make this real for every man, woman and child in our State.
As Thomas Paine wrote, “These are the times that try men’s souls: The summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of their country; but he that stands it now, deserves the love and thanks of man and woman. Tyranny, like Hell, is not easily conquered; yet we have this consolation with us, that the harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph. What we obtain too cheap, we esteem too lightly: it is dearness only that gives every thing its value. Heaven knows how to put a proper price upon its goods; and it would be strange indeed if so celestial an article as freedom should not be highly rated.”
Happy Independence Day.
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