Connect with us

Guest Columnists

Opinion | Thoroughbred conservatives — a dying breed

John W. Giles

Published

on

100 percent pure bred economic, moral, social and constitutional conservatives are almost extinct in the public arena. If you have read some of my work in the past, you may recall, I first got involved in public policy going door to door for Ronald Reagan in 1980. All I knew, he was pro-life, the rest of his conservative views were a bonus. Back then, it would take me all day to name all of the pure bred conservatives serving in office at the local, state and national level. Retired State Senator Dick Brewbaker, who served the 25th District in the Alabama Senate, puts a face on the title, thoroughbred economic, moral, social and constitutional conservative, more about Senator Brewbaker in a minute.

All of my colleagues and friends who are economic, moral, social and constitutional conservatives have one common denominator, they are all issues driven. One thing I learned very quickly at the Christian Coalition dealing with multiple denominations and expressions of faith; once you get past God the father, Jesus the Son, Mary a virgin conceiving Jesus by the Holy Spirit and the Bible being the inspired Word of God, people of faith split up very quickly. As a side note, since the 16th century reformation, led by Martin Luther, there are varying estimates of 45,000 or so different expressions of Christianity worldwide. What we did find is conservatives will rally behind issues, so being issues driven is imperative in any successful grassroots effort.

What one finds in the Republican National Committee Platform; it embodies economic, moral, social and constitutional conservative issues. It has nothing to do with race, creed, color or sexual orientations, it is all about issues. There are several groups whose issues are conservative like, the American Conservative Union, Eagle Forum, Federalist Society, Heritage Foundation and The John Birch Society to name just a few. These organizations are truly 100 percent pure bred economic, moral, social and constitutional conservative groups.

I recently received a call from a colleague of mine who worked in the Hunt Administration with me. We were discussing the state of Republican politics in Alabama and the makeup of our elected officials. Remember, when I said back in the 80’s and 90’s it would take me all day to name all of the 100% thoroughbreds, in that conversation with my friend, we could not name one Alabama Senator that fit that description. In this 2019 legislative session alone, they voted for a Gas Tax increase (a handful voted against it), voted for one of the strongest pro-life bills in the country, turn around and voted for marijuana, taking Poach Creek Indian gambling money and then leading the way to pass the legislation. Friends, I need an airsickness bag to handle my nausea and a GPS to keep up with their ever changing values and positions on issues. In this environment, you have to double down on every issue important to you and walk through all of the procedural votes to know exactly where they stand. Now, let’s go back to retired Senator Dick Brewbaker.

I met Dick Brewbaker in 1994 when I was running for Lt. Governor in Alabama. I knew Dick’s family from the car business, but later met Dick in his capacity as Chairman of SCORE 100, a conservative education reform movement. Dick and I spent some time together professionally in the James administration. Dick later ran for the Alabama House and spent a total of 15 years in the House and Senate. I never had to call Dick on any vote; I knew where he was going to be on every single vote. He was a 100 percent pure bred economic, moral, social and constitutional conservative and would never be bought or persuaded off of his core values and deeply rooted position on issues. When I was at the Christian Coalition of Alabama, I NEVER had to chase Dick down for a vote; I knew where he was on every issue. There are No More 100 percent thoroughbred conservatives in the Alabama Senate; it has become not only an endangered species, but extinction.

Unfortunately we are all going to need to do a better job of interviewing and vetting candidates before we give them our vote. I am working on a detailed questionnaire on a wide ranging cadre of conservative issues, where the average citizen can intelligently interview a candidate for office. We can NO LONGER see a brochure, or hear a TV spot, we have got to get down deep in the weeds and shuck corn with these candidates.

I would also like to nudge the Republican Party, groups like the Alabama Policy Institute and others to develop an in-depth curriculum on pure bred economic, moral, social and constitutional conservatism. All Republican candidates need to be baptized in constitutional governing so they cannot be easily swayed or pulled off their horse.

Public Service Announcement

You give me an honest person who is there for right motives to serve, who has integrity, ethics and character and we can teach them from the Dick Brewbaker handbook. Let’s get Republicans who claim to be economic, moral, social and constitutional conservatives off the endangered species list, let’s groom Dick Brewbaker’s for our future.

Senator Brewbaker, words are simply not adequate to express our warm and sincerest gratitude for your decades of love, service and distinguished service to our state. WE MISS YOU!!!

 

ADVERTISEMENT

John W. Giles is former President of the Christian Coalition of Alabama. He served as Small Business Advocate for the State of Alabama during Governor Guy Hunt's Administration. He was also a member of Governor Fob James Cabinet.

Advertisement

Guest Columnists

Opinion | On the Nov. 3 ballot, vote “no” on proposed Amendment 1

Chris Christie

Published

on

(STOCK PHOTO)

On Nov. 3, 2020, all Alabama voters should vote “no” on proposed Amendment 1. Vote no on Amendment 1 because it could allow state law changes to disenfranchise citizens whom the Legislature does not want to vote. Because Amendment 1 has no practical purpose and because it opens the door to mischief, all voters are urged to vote no.

Currently, the Alabama Constitution provides that “Every citizen of the United States…” has the right to vote in the county where the voter resides. Amendment 1 would delete the word “every” before citizen and replace it with “only a” citizen.

In Alabama, the only United States citizens who cannot vote today are most citizens who have been convicted of a felony of moral turpitude. These felonies are specifically identified in Ala. Code 17-3-30.1.

Without Amendment 1, the Alabama Constitution now says who can vote: every citizen. If voters approve Amendment 1, the Alabama Constitution would only identify a group who cannot vote. With Amendment 1, we, the citizens of the United States in Alabama, thus would lose the state constitutional protection of our voting rights.

In Alabama, no individual who is not a United States citizens can vote in a governmental election. So, Amendment 1 has no impact on non-citizens in Alabama.

Perhaps the purpose of Amendment 1 could be to drive voter turnout of those who mistakenly fear non-citizens can vote. The only other purpose for Amendment 1 would be allowing future Alabama state legislation to disenfranchise groups of Alabama citizens whom a majority of the legislature does not want to vote.

In 2020, the ballots in Florida and Colorado have similar amendments on the ballots. As in Alabama, Citizens Voters, Inc., claims it is responsible for putting these amendments on the ballots in those states. While Citizens Voters’ name sounds like it is a good nonprofit, as a 501(c)(4), it has secret political donors. One cannot know who funds Citizen Voters and thus who is behind pushing these amendments with more than $8 million in dark money.

Public Service Announcement

According to Citizen Voter’s website, the stated reason for Amendment 1 is that some cities in several other states allow non-citizens to vote. My understanding is that such measures are rare and only apply to voting for local school boards.

And why would a local government’s deciding that non-citizens can vote for local school boards be a state constitutional problem? Isn’t the good government practice to allow local control of local issues? And again, this issue does not even exist in Alabama.

The bigger question, which makes Amendment 1’s danger plain to see, is why eliminate the language protectingevery citizen’s right to vote? For example, Amendment 1 could have proposed “Every citizen and only a citizen” instead of deleting “every” when adding “only a” citizen. Why not leave the every citizen language in the Alabama Constitution?

ADVERTISEMENT

Amendment 1 could allow Alabama new state legislation to disenfranchise some Alabama citizens. Such a change would probably violate federal law. But Alabama has often had voting laws that violated federal law until a lawsuit forced the state of Alabama not to enforce the illegal state voting law.  

The most recent similar law in Alabama might be 2011’s HB56, the anti-immigrant law. Both HB56 and Amendment 1 are Alabama state laws that out-of-state interests pushed on us. And HB56 has been largely blocked by federal courts after expensive lawsuits.

Alabama’s Nov. 3, 2020, ballot will have six constitutional amendments. On almost all ballots, Amendment 1 will be at the bottom right on the first page (front) of the ballot or will be at the top left on the second page (back) of the ballot.

Let’s keep in our state constitution our protection of every voters’ right to vote.

Based on Amendment 1’s having no practical benefit and its opening many opportunities for mischief, all Alabama voters are strongly urged to vote “no” on Amendment 1.

Continue Reading

Guest Columnists

Opinion | Amendment 4 is an opportunity to clean up the Alabama Constitution

Gerald Johnson and John Cochran

Published

on

(STOCK PHOTO)

The 1901 but current Alabama Constitution has been amended about 950 times, making it by far the world’s longest constitution. The amendments have riddled the Constitution with redundancies while maintaining language and provisions — for example, poll taxes — that reflect the racist intent of those who originally wrote it.

A recompilation will bring order to the amendments and remove obsolete language. While much of this language is no longer valid, the language is still in the document and has been noted and used by other states when competing with Alabama for economic growth opportunities.

The need for recompilation and cleaning of Alabama’s Constitution has been long recognized.

In 2019, the Legislature unanimously adopted legislation, Amendment 4, to provide for its recompilation. Amendment 4 on the Nov. 3 general election ballot will allow the non-partisan Legislative Reference Service to draft a recompiled and cleaned version of the Constitution for submission to the Legislature.

While Amendment 4 prohibits any substantive changes in the Constitution, the LRS will remove duplication, delete no longer legal provisions and racist language, thereby making our Constitution far more easily understood by all Alabama citizens.

Upon approval by the Legislature, the recompiled Constitution will be presented to Alabama voters in November 2022 for ratification.

Amendment 4 authorizes a non-partisan, broadly supported, non-controversial recompilation and much-needed, overdue cleaning up of our Constitution.

Public Service Announcement

On Nov. 3, 2020, vote “Yes” on Amendment 4 so the work can begin.

Continue Reading

Guest Columnists

Opinion | Auburn Student Center named for Harold Melton, first Auburn SGA president of color

Elizabeth Huntley and James Pratt

Published

on

Auburn University's Student Center (VIA AUBURN UNIVERSITY)

The year 1987 was a quiet one for elections across America but not at Auburn. That was the year Harold Melton, a student in international studies and Spanish, launched and won a campaign to become the first African American president of the Auburn Student Government Association, winning with more than 65 percent of the vote.

This was just the first of many important roles Harold Melton would play at Auburn and in an extraordinarily successful legal career in his home state of Georgia, where his colleagues on the Georgia Supreme Court elected him as chief justice.

Last week, the Auburn Board of Trustees unanimously named the Auburn student center for Justice Melton, the first building on campus that honors a person of color. The decision was reached as part of a larger effort to demonstrate Auburn’s commitment to diversity and inclusion.

In June, Auburn named two task forces to study diversity and inclusion issues. We co-chair the task force for the Auburn Board with our work taking place concurrently with that of a campus-based task force organized by President Jay Gogue. Other members of the Board task force are retired Army general Lloyd Austin, bank president Bob Dumas, former principal and educator Sarah B. Newton and Alabama Power executive Quentin P. Riggins.

These groups are embarking on a process that offers all Auburn stakeholders a voice, seeking input from students, faculty, staff, alumni, elected officials and more. It will include a fact-based review of Auburn’s past and present, and we will provide specific recommendations for the future.

We are committed to making real progress based on solid facts. Unlike other universities in the state, Auburn has a presence in all 67 counties through the Alabama Cooperative Extension System. Our review has included not only our campuses in Auburn and Montgomery but all properties across our state. To date, we have found no monuments or statues recognizing the history that has divided our country. We will continue our fact-finding mission with input from the academic and research community.

Our university and leadership are committed to doing the right thing, for the right reasons, at the right time. We believe now is the right time, and we are already seeing results.

Public Service Announcement

In addition to naming the student center for the Honorable Harold Melton, we have taken steps to highlight the significant role played by Harold Franklin, the student who integrated Auburn. We are working to enhance the historical marker that pays tribute to Mr. Franklin, and we are raising its visibility in campus tours as we pay homage to his contributions as our first African American student. Last month, we awarded Mr. Franklin, now 86 and with a Ph.D., a long-overdue master’s degree for the studies he completed at Auburn so many years ago.

We likewise endorsed a student-led initiative creating the National Pan-Hellenic Council Legacy Plaza, which will recognize the contributions of Black Greek organizations and African American culture on our campus.

In the coming months, Auburn men and women will work together to promote inclusion to further enhance our student experience and build on our strength through diversity. The results of this work will be seen and felt throughout the institution in how we recruit our students, provide scholarships and other financial support and ensure a culture of inclusion in all walks of university life.

ADVERTISEMENT

Our goal is to identify and implement substantive steps that will make a real difference at Auburn, impact our communities and stand the test of time.

Naming the student center for Justice Melton is but one example. In response to this decision, he said, “Auburn University has already given me everything I ever could have hoped for in a university and more. This honor is beyond my furthest imagination.”

Our job as leaders at Auburn is more than honoring the Harold Meltons and Harold Franklins who played a significant role in the history of our university. It is also to create an inclusive environment that serves our student body and to establish a lasting legacy where all members of the Auburn Family reach their fullest potential in their careers and in life.

Continue Reading

Guest Columnists

Opinion | Alabama lags behind the nation in Census participation with deadline nearing

Paul DeMarco

Published

on

(STOCK PHOTO)

The United States Census is starting to wind down around the country with a Sept. 30 deadline for the national population to be completed. However, a United States District Court has recently ruled that the date may be extended another 30 days to allow more time for the census to take place.

Regardless of the deadline, Alabama has work to do when it comes to the census.

To date, the national average for participation around the country has been almost 65 percent for the census.

Unfortunately, Alabama residents are providing data to the census at a lower percentage, around some 61 percent of the state population.

There is already concern among state leaders that if that number does not reach above 70 percent, then the state will lose a seat in Congress, a vote in the electoral college and millions of federal dollars that come to the state every year.

The percentage of participation has varied widely around the state, from a high of 76 percent in Shelby County to a low of 36 percent in neighboring Coosa County.

State leaders are making a final push to request Alabama residents fill out the census in the last month before it is closed.

Public Service Announcement

We will find out later this fall if Alabama passes the national average of participation in the census compared to other states to retain both its future representation and share of federal dollars.

In the meantime, Alabamians need to fill out their census forms.

The state is depending on it.

ADVERTISEMENT

Continue Reading
Advertisement
Advertisement