It’s time for Republicans in Alabama to give up some rights.
Over the last few years, GOP lawmakers have violated the law on an almost daily basis, and seven of them have been indicted, convicted or pleaded guilty of misusing their offices for public gain.
They have violated the public’s trust repeatedly. They have sought to bend and break the laws — laws they passed — in order to enrich themselves.
The governor. The speaker of the House. The House Majority Leader.
Representatives of the people, sworn to uphold the law and honor their office. All of them criminals.
And it doesn’t stop there.
GOP lobbyists have been found guilty, too. As have attorneys from law firms that Republicans routinely utilize.
These attorneys and lobbyists have pushed to violate all sorts of laws and ethical standards. From concocting legislation that would enrich lawmakers through personal investments to fighting off EPA action on behalf of a large coal company.
And it doesn’t stop there.
Mega-donors to GOP candidates — the state’s businessmen — have been just as busy ponying up the cash to finance all of these backroom deals.
Sure, Mike Hubbard and Micky Hammon were raking in the ill-gotten gains, but that money didn’t fall from heaven. It came from businessmen who knew very well that what was happening was illegal, and they didn’t care.
None of them — the lawmakers, the attorneys, the lobbyists nor the businessmen — cared about much of anything — the laws, the rules or the people they were hurting.
So long as they got rich, all was justified. It has become a pattern in this state, one that has infected this state’s government for nearly as long as it’s existed.
And that’s why it’s time for some changes.
If you’re a Republican lawmaker of any sort, if you’ve donated to Republicans, if you’ve lobbied Republicans, or even if you’ve just been hanging around with a bunch of Republicans, you should no longer have the same rights as everyone else.
From this point forward, law enforcement officials in this state should have the authority to search anything you own and monitor anything you do. Your bank accounts, your emails, your text messages, your entire financial portfolio should be an open book — available to investigators on demand and without a warrant.
After all, why should law enforcement be forced to jump through the hoops of submitting evidence of probable cause to obtain a warrant, when it has become quite clear by now that Republicans are more than willing to violate the laws of this state and country?
And it shouldn’t stop there.
If law enforcement officials believe that you have violated the laws in order to obtain property or cash, they should be able to confiscate that property or cash indefinitely.
And they should be able to hold any Alabama Republican in jail until such time that he or she can prove that they have not violated the laws of this state.
It’s a shame that it’s come to this, but the actions of so many Alabama Republicans — albeit a minority overall — have proven that you people simply cannot be trusted and should not be entitled to the same rights and protections under the law that the rest of us enjoy.
And if any of this seems unfair, well …
Now you know how the black citizens of this country feel.
Now you have some tiny understanding of how a black man feels when he is forced to prove he belongs in his own neighborhood. Or how the black woman feels when she must prove that there are no drugs in the car. Or how every black citizen feels when they are handcuffed during a routine traffic stop for “being suspicious” or “acting funny” or “being disrespectful.”
And these are the interactions in which no shots are fired and no police batons are used.
It’s not OK.
And there is no justification for it. Not because the officer was afraid or because the crime rate in the neighborhood was high or because some other people once committed crimes.
These are the injustices that NFL players are protesting. Not the flag, and certainly not soldiers.
So, the next time you hear of the player protests, or you listen to your favorite talking head bemoan the “anthem protests,” remember the anger you felt at the beginning of this column. The anger over the mere suggestion that you, or anyone, should lose basic rights because of the unrelated actions of others.
And imagine how you’d feel if it were happening to you every single day.