After being elected Speaker of the Alabama House of Representatives for his first full quadrennium, Mac McCutcheon addressed the body to offer his vision for the next four years.
“I want this quadrennium to be defined by four simple words — building a better Alabama,” McCutcheon said.
Building a better Alabama is a goal most can agree upon but what constitutes a better Alabama means different things to different people even within the lower chamber.
The speaker offered concrete examples of what he sees as the building blocks for a better state which comprise his agenda for the upcoming legislative session.
Better roads and bridges, an even better economy, a better education system and a better standard of ethics are all part of McCutcheon’s plan.
No one can legitimately argue that improved infrastructure, a robust economy, higher education standards and strict ethics laws are not foundational to a healthy and prosperous state. But it is also wise to acknowledge that policy must be judged on results and not merely on intentions.
There is little doubt that McCutcheon is an honest man with a sincere desire to make Alabama even better. As he said in his remarks to the House, “We are here to govern with honor, and we are here to follow the rule of law.” But McCutcheon knows as does anyone who understands the nature of politics that honor is its own reward but also a virtue that is not always rewarded by those who seek power.
This he addressed in his speech by saying, “As a legislator, you have two choices before you. You can choose to be guided primarily by your own ambitions, desires, and personal interests, or you can choose to be led by a desire to make Alabama a better place for the constituents you represent.”
As McCutcheon is given broad powers constitutionally to set the state’s agenda, the ambitions, desires and personal interests of hundreds of special interests will bear down on him as well as other members of the House.
McCutcheon and other lawmakers should recognize that to stand on principle often means you stand alone.
Most legislators do come to Montgomery with a desire to make Alabama a better place for the constituents, but the capital city has a way of blurring that desire. It is the sad state of human nature to believe what is best for oneself is good for everyone else. In Montgomery, there are a hundred of individuals roaming the State House that will convince the gullible of that mistaken notion.
And so the die is cast, McCutcheon has laid down his markers. He deserves a fresh start and strong support, but as with an immense responsibility comes an even greater burden.
The speaker closed his statements to the House by saying, “We are here to serve the people of Alabama to the very best of our abilities…so help us, God.”
In God we trust; all others will be scrutinized.