H. Brandt Ayers: Pride goeth before a fall
Mar 31, 2013 | 4138 views |  0 comments | 12 12 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Former Republican presidential candidate Michele Bachmann, a favorite of the Tea Party. Photo: Associated Press
Former Republican presidential candidate Michele Bachmann, a favorite of the Tea Party. Photo: Associated Press
Elections do count. After showing how mean Republicans can be to Hispanics — with Alabama leading the way — the party has reversed itself and is now supporting bipartisan immigration reform in the Senate.

Party analysts and strategists looked at the 44-point victory advantage for President Obama among Hispanics and concluded the party had erred in its heated and persistent opposition to reform.

Senior office holders and analysts also concluded that the strident Tea Party wing of the party, which features spokespeople such as U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann, is driving away young and moderate voters.

Where does this leave Alabama, one of 38 states in which the governor and legislature are dominated by one party?

In Alabama, the Republican Party also controls the Supreme Court, whose Chief Justice Roy Moore has behaved as a religious fanatic.

When you put the question, how many states are so completely owned by one party, into Google’s search engine, the first answer that comes up is “the politics of Yemen.”

Now, of course, it would be invidious to compare the governance of Yemen with that of Alabama, but when one looks for obvious examples of total dominance by a single party, Russia and China stand out.

What’s wrong with single-party dominance? Thomas Jefferson addressed that question in his famous letter to James Madison in which he said he would prefer newspapers without government rather than the reverse.

He was talking about restraints on the power of government; specifically, he was lamenting the absence of a Bill of Rights in the draft constitution Madison had sent him when he was ambassador to France.

Jefferson wrote that without some restraints on government power, “you and I” and all office holders would become “wolves,” adding that “man is the only animal which devours its own. ”

Power unrestrained tempts the office holder to hubris, an arrogance of power. Aristotle explained its effects, “As for the pleasure in hubris, its cause is this: men think that by ill-treating others they make their own superiority the greater.”

Contemplating Aristotle’s thought, state Sen. Scott Beason comes to mind with his ruminations about “aborigines” during debate on Alabama’s ill-starred, proudly proclaimed “strongest in the nation” immigration bill.

The bill did not aim at a problem, which went undefined; instead, it focused on a nationality … Hispanics.

U.S. District Judge Myron Thompson detected naked prejudice in the legislative history of the legislation, describing debate as “laced with derogatory comments about Hispanics.” He said it was likely that the entire law was “discriminatorily based.”

Among the first two “illegal immigrants” caught in the law’s net were a German Mercedes-Benz executive on a business trip to Alabama, who left his passport in the hotel, and a Japanese Honda executive, who was arrested at a checkpoint to catch unlicensed drivers.

You’d think the Legislature had learned, but recently it passed the education Alabama Accountability Act in a closed caucus without consulting any education leader — an ideologically driven “voucher act” that might pluck a valedictorian and one or two A students out of a failing school and, space available, land them in a private academy. Nothing is said of the poor children left behind.

Its legislative supporters have launched a media campaign to “educate” the public on the act’s “benefits” — a campaign whose money-backers are hidden.

So far, all the act has done is spread confusion through the system. Its ultimate effect has yet to be calculated but, since it sprang from the same ill-considered source as the immigration bill, it is not likely to be a source of pride.

Now that the immigration act’s ill effects of the law on industry, farms and schools is known, now that the leadership of the national GOP has pivoted toward reform, that leaves Sen. Beason deflated and state party leaders hosts at what, a … “tea party?”

It is precisely the zaniness of the Tea Party caucus convened by outer-space dwellers such as Rep. Bachmann that is a major reason the GOP has sunk to a 20-year low, according to Andrew Kohut of Pew Research.

Pretty, empty-headed Ms. Bachmann makes up things and repeats them with the confidence of fact. A recent whopper she told was that 70 percent of every dollar intended for the poor went to bureaucrats’ salaries and pensions.

Bachmann and legislative acts such as the proudly broadcast Alabama immigration bill are giving the party leadership an existential headache that will take internal change to relieve.

There are some serious men among Alabama’s Republican leadership; they are capable of restraining the tendency to hubris that unchecked power encourages. As Proverbs counsels, “pride goeth before a fall.”

H. Brandt Ayers is the publisher of The Star and chairman of Consolidated Publishing Co.
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