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Sunday, October 9, 2005
PoliColumn: Moore II
By Dr. Steven Taylor @ 7:00 am

From today’s Mobile Register

M-Day starts race
Sunday, October 09, 2005
Special to the Register

And so it begins: The 2006 electoral season started in earnest on Oct. 3, when the former chief justice of Alabama, Roy Moore, formally proclaimed his intention to run for the office of governor.

This was a long-anticipated announcement. Indeed, almost from the moment of his ouster from the bench due to his refusal to obey a federal court order, it has been assumed that Moore would seek further elective office, and that that office would be the governorship of our state.

So, last Monday was M-Day, so to speak.

And while the news may have partially been drowned out by President Bush’s nomination of Harriet Miers to the U.S. Supreme Court, there can be little doubt that we ultimately will hear quite a bit from and about Roy Moore.

The start of his campaign featured a five-part pledge that Moore dubbed “Return Alabama to the People,” built on the planks of legislative reform, education, taxation, illegal immigration and morality.

Aside from begging the question of when in the past the people of Alabama have had more power over their state than they do now, it is clear that the purpose of the plan is to demonstrate that Moore has more to say than simply asserting his right to use governmental office to “acknowledge God.”

Not surprisingly, his list details messages standard in Alabama politics: stopping “special interests,” promising low taxes and eliminating educational bureaucracy.

He also appears to be running against the Legislature (and, by extension, against Montgomery).

This is also standard fare for state (and, indeed, national) politics. The goal is to try to establish the concept that somehow a specific candidate has the ability to fix endemic problems because of the mythic powers that supposedly adhere to “outsiders.”

For example, Moore noted in his press confer ence that he “feels safer when the Legislature is not in session.” No doubt that is a sentiment shared by many across Alabama, but it raises the question of whether simply booting the Legislature from session is the way to fix our state’s problems.

One of Moore’s proposals is that the Legislature meet only once every other year.

On a visceral level, that sounds good. However, seeing as how the Legislature did not have time in this year’s regular session to finish the state’s budget, one has to wonder if it would be wise to limit legislators’ time.

This is the kind of solution that one dreamed up in college while chatting with friends, back when the world was a simple place with simple solutions.

Heck, if halving the amount of time that the Legislature meets would be a boon to the state, why stop there? How about every four years, or once a decade? That would limit the mischief those rascals could foment, that’s for sure.

Do we really need attention to issues like education, law enforcement and infrastructure?

Clearly, Moore is satisfied with public policy in these areas, given that he wishes to cut by 50 percent the amount of time our government addresses these issues.

His suggestion for term limits is more intriguing, as there is no doubt that there is a great deal of entrenched power in the Legislature, where we see legislators being far more concerned about pork for their districts than they are with the overall well-being of the citizens of Alabama.

Of course, the odds that the Roger Bedfords of the Legislature would allow term limits are quite low — in fact, probably zero.

If Moore wants substantial legislative reform, he should promote constitutional reform, but that apparently is not part of his plan.

Of course, the power of his candidacy is not going to be based on a series of promises/ideas that cannot possibly come to pass. It will come from the morality plank of his platform.

Roy Moore is first and foremost the “Ten Commandments Judge,” and while he did not make any promises about returning his Commandments monument to a governmental building, he did pledge, quite forcefully, the following: “I will defend the right of every citizen of this state — including judges, coaches, teachers and city, county and state officials — to acknowledge God as the sovereign source of law, liberty and government.”

All well and good. But that isn’t the job of the governor of Alabama.

(And in case Moore hasn’t noticed, there are a lot of churches in Alabama. I am certain that our religious liberties, and our rights to acknowledge God as we see fit, are wholly protected.)

The problem with Moore’s contention — that somehow, U.S. citizens are being stopped from acknowledging God — is that the only prohibition that exists in this realm in the United States is that government officials cannot use their offices to promote their religions.

However, that hasn’t stopped elected officials from acknowledging God in terms of their personal religious views. One need look no further than President Bush, who has repeatedly acknowledged not just a generic God, but Jesus Christ, during his tenure.

As such, Moore’s signature issue is a chimera, and the rest of his platform is nothing more than political padding. If what we want is better governance in our state, this all seems to be very little.

Filed under: US Politics, My Columns, Alabama Politics, 2006 Elections | |Send TrackBack


  1. “Heck, if halving the amount of time that the Legislature meets would be a boon to the state, why stop there? How about every four years, or once a decade? That would limit the mischief those rascals could foment, that’s for sure.”

    I could get behind that.

    Comment by Steven L. — Sunday, October 9, 2005 @ 8:18 am

  2. It reminds me of a button that I once read about concering the Texas State Legislature, which said something like “How about twice every 140 years?”

    (For those not versed in Texas politics: the Texas constitution stipulates that the legislature only meet once every other year for 140 days).

    Comment by Dr. Steven Taylor — Sunday, October 9, 2005 @ 8:28 am

  3. Roy Moore, the candidate who SAYS he wants to return our government
    to those of us who own it and pay for it, was on the Don Markwell’s
    Viewpoints talk radio program [WACV am 1170 in Montgomery] recently. I called in and asked this question, which I am attempting to
    ask of all candidates for governor, lieutenant governor, and some
    others: “Will you actively support the proposition of bringing
    Initiative and Referendum [I&R] to the voters of Alabama, both in
    your campaign, and afterward?”

    He equivocated, by saying that he would not oppose it if an I&R bill
    were passed by the legislature. He should have known that I&R is
    perhaps the best, if not only, way to return our government to us. I&R would be the key needed to, for instance, unlock the door to reforming the state constitution.

    One of his campaign issues is returning to biennial legislative
    sessions, which has provoked numerous negative editorials across the
    state. I have responded with LTEs saying that instead of either his
    idea, or the status quo, what we REALLY need is a full time

    Anyone who thinks I may have lost my mind can request [email to] that I send them my reasoning behind the need for a full time legislature.

    Comment by Don Seibold — Friday, November 4, 2005 @ 11:31 am

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