By Dr. Tom Ford, III
Members of the Alabama House of Representatives: the speaker’s chair is empty. Mike Hubbard is a convicted felon. He was your friend and it’s natural for you to be heartbroken for him and for his family. He was powerful and you can wisely acknowledge that power, money, and position prey on the most principled of men. He has betrayed your trust and ours and as you gather together as a super-majority caucus on Tuesday, don’t elect a new speaker without deep consideration.
Your constituents aren’t ignorant. Hubbard was one man of a large body of representatives. A majority of you could have overruled any decision he made. A majority of you elected him to the position of speaker after he was indicted. A majority of you haven’t dared to lift a finger as the trial and evidence developed. It appears that a majority of you are followers – not leaders – blindly driven and directed by the same money, power, and desire for position and expediency that he was. We’re tired of your excuses. Gratefully for you, you have an opportunity to prove us wrong before the next election and you have a way to make that clear on Tuesday: elect a real leader — not one accustomed to following the dictates of Hubbard’s inner circle.
Your colleagues currently holding powerful House leadership positions are good men but, public perception suggests they’ve failed the test of real leadership. Real leadership isn’t defined by the money, the lobbyists, the Speaker, the Pro-Tem of the Senate, the Governor, or even the Business Council. It scorns mere subservience to money, to power, to political expediency, and to position. It is defined by principle, by duty, by service to those you’re elected to serve, by fear of God, and by dealings that are above reproach.
There are good men vying for the speaker’s chair. But, you know, they know, and we know that some of them have remained in their positions because they’ve silently acquiesced to the will and whims of the Speaker, the power, and the cash. They’ve been followers and there’s simply no reason for anyone to expect more of them now.
The status quo needs a good shake-up and there are a several who can do what it takes. They’re not perfect, but they’re part of a rare band of real leaders in Montgomery. Their ability to lead was proven when they dared to challenge corrupted or misguided House leadership at the expense of personal gain, powerful positions, peer acceptance, or legislative success. Two of these are Representative Phil Williams (R-Huntsville) and Representative Ed Henry (R-Hartselle). Electing them as Speaker and as Majority Leader would be a good way to lead the House towards more transparency, integrity, and fairness – the change that Montgomery needs so badly.
Members of the Alabama House of Representatives: have you learned anything from Hubbard’s rise and fall? We’ll know on Tuesday.
Tom Ford is a business owner and pastor in East Montgomery, Alabama.