This week, Alabama saw perhaps one of the strangest political moments in decades when Gov. Robert Bentley resigned amid a sex scandal and ethics violations investigation.
Bentley, however, is not the only disgraced political leader in the state.
This is the third, I repeat, third high ranking Republican politician to be removed from office in the past year.
Within less than 365 days, Alabama’s Speaker of the House, Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, and now Governor have all left office under their own ethical failings.
In June, Speaker Mike Hubbard was convicted on 12 felony counts of corruption and other abuses of office.
A month later, he was sentenced to pay a $210,000 fine and spend four years in prison, and then eight years on probation.
Throughout early 2016, Chief Justice Roy Moore actively and passionate fought against the US Supreme Court’s opinion that laws preventing same-sex marriage were unconstitutional, instructing local clerks to not give marriage licenses to same-sex couples.
In late September, Roy Moore was found guilty on six counts of judicial ethical violations and was removed as Chief Justice for a second time.
Finally, over the past year, it has become clear that Governor Robert Bentley had not only had an illicit affair with one of his staffers, but that he used state funds to conduct said affair and cover it up.
A 3000-page report from the House Judiciary Committee found that Bentley created an atmosphere of intimidation to cover up his affair, going so far as to fire the state’s top cop Spencer Collier.
With impeachment proceedings quickly approaching, Bentley took a plea deal, admitting guilt to two misdemeanors in turn for higher level felony charges being dropped.
We are now far past the point of absurdity.
Alabama Republicans have embarrassed our state and further ruined our reputation nationwide.
When our leaders act so foolishly and without regard for the law, Americans outside Alabama view our state as a backwards spectacle without regard for so many of the redeeming nuances of our state.
These Republican figures and their actions are why at least a few times a month, there will be a segment from John Oliver or Rachel Maddow or Bill Maher roasting Alabama, turning the state into a continuous punchline.
Whether Alabamians watch these shows or not, millions of Americans do, and our reputation is flushed down the toilet every time our state provides the fodder for these jokes.
Obviously, these Alabamian leaders have some ethical issues.
But aside from all of that, these leaders also failed the citizens of Alabama by simply being bad at governing.
Alabama Republicans, much like their national counterparts, have proven that no matter how much power they control, they still have no idea how to govern.
Even without the distractions at the top, the Republican controlled state government has stagnated, while other states have passed us by in nearly every conceivable metric.
Alabama now ranks in the top ten nationwide in cancer, heart disease, stroke, pneumonia, and kidney disease.
Our state has the fifth-lowest percentage of residents with high school diplomas and the sixth highest unemployment rate to boot.
Over the past year, Republicans have done little to address the shortfall of Medicaid coverage, the structural budgetary deficit, and the lack of good paying jobs.
Instead, all that Republicans have done is built more prisons, disenfranchise thousands of voters, and get caught up in scores of ethics violations.
Perhaps a quote that summarizes the situation in Alabama best comes from former state representative Arthur Payne: “There is nothing good that has come from the Republicans being in power in Alabama, and I’m a Republican.”
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Cover Photo Credit: Stuart Seeger/ Flickr (CC By 2.0)