Thursday, December 23, 2010

Senator Hank Sanders: Senate Sketches # 1228

  When we dig a hole for someone else, we may as well dig two for we will surely fall in the first one we dug. I heard these words from my mama and other wise old folks. There was such wisdom in the saying I drew on it during my turn at the podium of an extended debate on Senate Bill 2, which stripped AEA (Alabama Education Association) and several other employee organizations of effective membership privileges.

  We had fought hard in the Senate to kill Senate Bill 2 on Friday. After four plus hours, the Republicans cut off debate and passed the bill. The Alabama House of Representatives then fought valiantly for many more hours starting Tuesday but at about 3 am on Wednesday morning, the Republicans cut off debate and passed the bill by three votes. Governor Bob Riley and others leading these efforts dug a hole for AEA and other employee organizations.

  These dug holes, whether literal or figurative, are deep so one cannot reach the top to grab a hold in order to get out. The walls of the dug holes are straight up and down so those in the hole cannot get a hand or foot hold to climb out. It is dug in a way to keep one down in the hole no matter what.

  When we dig a hole for someone else, we are trying to kill them or severely hurt them at the least. When we dig such a hole, we are being intentionally hurtful and malicious. It is not about helping oneself at the expense of others but about punishment for punishment's sake. Senate Bill 2 was about digging a hole for the Alabama Education Association, Alabama State Employees Association, Alabama State Troopers Association and other employee organizations. Other membership organizations such as ALFA Insurance were excluded from the requirement of the bill.

  Republicans now have a super majority in the Alabama Legislature. In the House they have 66 Republicans to 39 Democrats. In the Senate they have 22 Republicans and 12 Democrats with one independent. There was no power-increasing reasons to strip AEA and other employee organizations of their capacity to effectively serve their members. They already have everything. It is just digging a hole. When we dig a hole for someone else, we may as well dig two, for we will surely fall in the first one.

  Republicans have a super majority (8 of 9 positions) on the Alabama Supreme Court. Republicans hold all but two of the 28 statewide positions in Alabama. Stripping AEA members of the capacity to have their voluntary dues deducted from their paychecks and/or make donations to political entities of their choice is not about increasing political power for they have most everything. It’s about digging a hole for someone else.

  Republicans have elected every governor in Alabama since 1982 except one. The current governor won by a margin of 62-38 percent. Republicans hold eight of nine elected federal positions (two U. S. Senators and seven U. S. Representatives). Stripping these organizations of membership opportunities is not about increasing their power or position, but about digging a hole for someone else.

  It is my understanding that about a third of AEA’s membership is Republican. Many of its members, both Republicans and Democrats, voted for many of the legislators who voted to strip them of their membership opportunities in the twists and turns of this hole digging. These mean spirited actions will come back to haunt them for AEA will grow stronger from the fertilizer wrought by the hole digging.. As the old folk say, “Mark my words.”

  Others will also see this hole digging as punitive for no good reason. It will come to symbolize a spirit to be rooted out. They will understand that if some leaders dug a hole for someone else for no good reason, they will dig a hole for them.

  A lot of people didn’t vote. They said that it did not make any difference who was elected. Now, they will see that there is a real difference. This hole digging for someone else may well cause those who didn’t vote to rise up and cast their votes in the spirit of lessons learned.

  As I said in a recent Sketches, in every defeat lie seeds of future victories and in every victory lie seeds of future defeat. Nothing stimulates hibernating seeds like emotional heat generated by a hole dug for someone else. When we dig a hole for someone else, we may as well dig two for we will surely fall in the one we dug.

Epilogue – It matters what we do. It matters more why we do what we do. To kill another human being to protect ourselves or our families is self defense. To kill for no good reason is murder. Yes, it matters what and why we do what we do.

  About the author: Hank Sanders represents the 23rd Senate District in Alabama.

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