National news has recently been focused on whether the NCAA should revisit its rules on allowing different biological sexes to compete as unequal equals in sporting events. Last week in Washington, D.C., a United States Supreme Court nominee candidate wasn’t able to adequately identify her sex or give a definition of the word “woman” in her confirmation hearings. Both of those issues are issues of identity and border on the absurd.
Here on the home front, an equally absurd identity crisis is continuing to occur in Alabama. You see, every single state officeholder is a Republican. In addition, Republicans hold a supermajority in both the House and Senate. So, Alabama elected officials are the reddest of the red - identity-wise - because that’s who we elected. But are our elected officials reflecting those values in their leadership? I’m afraid the answer is repeatedly an emphatic “no”.
A quick review of the ALGOP (Alabama Republican Party) platform and comparison to the priorities of our governor and legislative leadership and membership lets us know that the Alabama elected leadership is having an identity crisis of their own. While the party platform states, “We believe in equal rights, equal justice and equal opportunity for all, without regard to race, creed, age, sex or national origin,” the truth remains that many K-Higher Education children are being taught a worldview that is contrary to that platform plank. The use of Social Emotional Learning and Critical Race Theory in our classrooms is a repudiation of that statement and, despite the rhetoric in campaign ads, it continues.
“We support the rights of people of faith to the free exercise of religion, including every citizen’s right to apply religious values to public policy and the right of faith-based organizations to participate fully in public programs without renouncing their beliefs and without government interference” is another platform statement that was routinely denied and ignored during the (over)reaction to COVID. Churches were shuttered. People were forced to take shots against their conscience to keep their jobs. Our citizens weren’t saved from that fate by living in Alabama; the failure of leaders in our state government still stings. While some of the problems have been ameliorated, systemic problems have not be been addressed.
School choice bills were gutted by AEA and the education bureaucracy despite the platform position of, “We support options for learning, including: public education, parochial and private schools, charter schools, home-schooling, magnet schools and technical and vocational education. We recognize and support parental rights in their child’s education”. Republicans in the legislature failed, once again, to give options to students and parents because of monetary turf wars of professional administrators, lobbyists and “educrats.”
“We believe that government should be limited and that the growth of government must be curtailed by a combination of the elimination of programs and transitioning of government jobs to the private sector.” Government has grown every single year since the current governor took her seat. Some estimate that state government has grown by 35% in those years. There has been little effort to curtail state government or budgets. In fact, many Republicans tout the fact that they helped pass the largest budgets ever … every single year. They should hang their heads in shame that there was no mention of returning this year’s $1.5 billion surplus to the people who sent it to Montgomery.
The first thing this newly elected governor and crop of legislators did was pass a never-ending gas tax. How does that, “… support lower and fair tax models that adequately fund government without undue waste or programs better facilitated by the private sector”? It doesn’t. Neither does rejecting a freeze or repeal of that tax or demanding that Alabama remain one of the five states that fully taxes groceries despite bipartisan appeals for both of those tax cuts.
“We oppose the implementation of the Common Core Curriculum.” Perhaps state legislators and education officials were taking cues from collegiate swimmers or intimidated judicial candidates, but changing the name of something doesn’t actually change the nature of it.
We elected them to ensure our religious freedom, cut our taxes, give us smaller government and provide a good quality education based on an understanding of equality for all our kids. What they’ve given us are lockdowns, tax increases, new bureaucracies and CRT. We’ve asked for school choice, curtailing government and a fair bidding process, and they’ve made us dead last in public education, created unelected bureaucracies to handle everything from math coaches to marijuana, and introduced a multitude of gambling bills that pick winners and losers from casino bosses who are currently breaking the law.
It’s not the people of Alabama who are having an identity crisis. We know who we are and what we want. It’s time for our elected leaders to be who they say they are (or pretend to be in their ads) and uphold the standards of the platform they claim to represent.
Stephanie Holden Smith is an experienced policy analyst, political commentator, and public speaker. Smith has worked and volunteered in Governmental Affairs in Alabama since 1997, including lobbying for a Fortune 500 company and serving as Deputy Director of Finance for the State of Alabama. She is currently the principal of Thatcher Coalition LLC. To contact Stephanie, please go to http://thatchercoalition.com. The views and opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the policy or position of 1819 News. To comment, please send an email with your name and contact information Commentary@1819News.com.