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Opinion | Alabama’s challenges and GOP glass houses: A struggle with public deception

The legislature should not bow so low as to wallow in the mud of hatred for political gain.

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In the aging halls of the Alabama Legislature, as legislators reconvene this February, the gravity of their responsibilities cannot be overstated. The agenda is filled with pressing issues: workforce and economic development, education, and the ever-controversial topic of school choice. These subjects, embedded with complexity, demand attention beyond mere talking points.

Regrettably, there will be a revival of divisive cultural wars that distract from true governance and the welfare of Alabama’s citizens and business interests. Among these is the concerning effort to restrict teachings on Black history and LGBTQ issues. The elimination of such topics, though popular in certain political circles, offer little in the way of securing a prosperous future for all Alabamians.

Before embarking on this misguided journey of controlling historical narratives and curtailing individual freedoms, a look into history and context seems imperative. Take, for instance, Florida, where Governor Ron DeSantis’s administration openly modeled the “Don’t Say Gay” bill after laws in Hungary and Russia. The troubling question arises: Since when did the Republican Party start taking cues from authoritarian figures like Viktor Orbán and Vladimir Putin?

This incongruence becomes more pronounced when examining recent controversies. Matt Schlapp, chairman of the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC), is embroiled in allegations of homosexual misconduct. This, despite his organization’s conservative, often anti-LGBTQ stance, reveals a jarring hypocrisy. Such allegations, if true, signify not just personal failings but a betrayal of their conservative base.

The Republican Party, despite its desire to be a symbol of moral steadfastness, now grapples with a disturbing transformation. A party once intolerant of sexual indiscretions now finds itself mired in scandals that starkly oppose its public persona. This contradiction is glaring in the case of Christian Ziegler, Florida’s GOP chairman, and his wife, Bridget Ziegler, an anti-LGBTQ advocate and book-banning enthusiast. Their involvement in sexual scandals involving an admitted three-way sexual liaison and an allegation of rape aimed at Christian Ziegler, starkly contradicts their public stance, epitomizing hypocrisy.

Then there’s the tragic story of F.L. “Bubba” Copeland, former mayor of Smiths Station. Copeland’s private life, involving cross-dressing, became public fodder in the state’s right-wing media, leading to his tragic demise. Unlike others, Copeland’s story is one of personal struggle and identity, deserving empathy rather than ridicule.

These instances reveal a chasm within the GOP: a gap between public declarations and private actions. The party, claiming to champion traditional values, seems lost in a moral quagmire. The issue extends beyond individual scandals to a broader conservative movement hypocrisy. This duplicity is not merely a personal failure but a public deception, undermining their claimed moral authority.

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In stark contrast, Copeland’s situation was fundamentally different. His actions, though private and harmless, were cruelly judged, leading to a tragic end. The core issue in these scandals isn’t the sexual nature of the acts, which, if consensual, shouldn’t be scandalous. Rather, it’s the blatant hypocrisy and pursuit of power at any cost that are truly condemnable.

These incidents within the GOP highlight a disturbing trend: a failure to embody the values they so vociferously preach, often with tragic consequences. The solution isn’t simple; it’s a harsh reminder of human frailty and the destructive nature of hypocrisy. As the party confronts these revelations, it must address the disconnect between its public morality stance and the private actions of its leaders.

So before casting more stones, it would be wise to understand these culture war issues harm real people.

The Legislature should not bow so low as to wallow in the mud of hatred for political gain.

Governing is hard work, pandering is not. Our Legislature should work on those nuts and bolts issues that improve the lives of Alabamians or be seen as mere puppets to radicals whose glass houses are shattering.

Bill Britt is editor-in-chief at the Alabama Political Reporter and host of The Voice of Alabama Politics. You can email him at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter.

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