I find that most people detest election years because of the onslaught of ugly political advertising, never-ending robo calls, or roadside signage that is never fully eradicated. I detest it because while many of us are involved in campaigns to elect replacements in hopes of solving some of the problems created by the last election cycle, we tend to take our eyes off the shenanigans that continue to take place in our halls of government.
I shudder to think of the damage likely being done in Washington, DC while the voters duke it out over their choice of presidential candidates. But whenever our Alabama Legislature is in session, there’s usually plenty of activity closer to home that should also be of concern.
I’m well aware that I incessantly beat the drum for smaller, more limited government at all levels. That desire stems from believing that less government allows more freedom for Americans, but more limited government would also greatly diminish the whack-a-mole frustration experienced by those of us who are weary of the constant monitoring of actions by those we elect that is so crucial to maintaining a free society.
I understand that the substance of politics consists of constant battles between ideology and policy, conservative versus liberal, and Republican versus Democrat. But when those elected have campaigned on the principles of limited government and “no new taxes,” it becomes a bitter pill to swallow to have to stay on endless high alert as citizen activists.
It’s especially hard when we were promised that it would be different. I fail to see Republican legislative and gubernatorial endorsement of a statewide amendment to bust the state trust fund, serious consideration of the expansion of gambling to solve budget problems, a proposed 6-cent per gallon gasoline tax, a Speaker of the House indicted on 23 counts of alleged use of public office for personal gain, or a Republican governor bringing public disgrace to his office with rumors and speculation regarding his former political advisor fulfilling the campaign promises of a “new day” in Alabama.
Regarding the gasoline tax, HB394, my understanding is the bill would base Alabama’s fuel tax on the average tax of four adjacent states, which in my mind cedes state authority. Further, a companion bill in the Senate, SB180, would create yet another layer of bureaucracy in the form of the Alabama Transportation Safety Fund, and allowing members of special interest groups to play a role in determining how the new revenue will be spent.
For some foolish reason, I wanted to believe that I could take the candidates on “my side” of the aisle at their word, but I made the mistake of thinking a member of a specific political party was the equivalent of conservatism. However, finally accepting that reality is actually quite liberating as I’m becoming a bit better at discerning the difference.
Many will likely take this as a blanket condemnation of all elected in Alabama since 2010 – that is neither my intent nor my belief. Regardless of the intense lobbying influence at our State House, there are still conservatives who are diligently trying to hold to their principles and they need our support. As I’ve wallowed in my disillusionment of late, I’ve failed to adequately thank those men and women who still remember the meaning of public service.
Following the November 2010 elections and the Alabama Republican sweep, I mentioned to a lobbyist friend that I was really looking forward to the next legislative session. I still remember how she looked at me and said with a smile, “Nothing’s changed – only the players.” How unfortunate that far too many of those we elected in that historic change of political governance confirmed her prediction.
All said, the current state of our culture and politics reinforces the quote (attribution disputed) that still rings true through the years: “Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty.”
Marcia Chambliss serves on the leadership team of Smart Girl Politics, www.smartgirlpolitics.com, an online community for conservative women. She can be reached at: Marcia@sgpaction.com. Her views do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Smart Girl Politics.