Editorial: Alabama’s bad deal — Woe to the defenders of the state’s 1901 Constitution
by The Anniston Star Editorial Board
Dec 02, 2013 | 1927 views |  0 comments | 27 27 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Former Gov. Albert Brewer of the Alabama Constitutional Reform Commission. Photo: The Associated Press
Former Gov. Albert Brewer of the Alabama Constitutional Reform Commission. Photo: The Associated Press
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Fixing Alabama’s form of state government one constitutional amendment at a time is very much like trying to tear down a rotting barn one splinter at a time.

It’s possible in theory, but takes too much time and is a waste of resources.

After years of avoiding the topic, Montgomery set about in 2011 to repair parts of the 1901 Constitution. The politicians preferred the splinter method.

Even that timid attempt has fallen short of expectations. The Constitution’s racist language remains. An attempt at granting local governments more powers has largely flopped. Fixing the unfair way the state taxes residents and businesses was never even on the table.

Members of Alabama’s Constitutional Revision Commission are mostly left with splinters stuck in their fingers and very little to show for their efforts.

The arguments for going slow are that the state and its institutions aren’t ready for rapid change. Better to get what little you can from the special-interest groups like ALFA and hope for gradual change, says the conventional wisdom of Alabama’s ruling political class.

That puts the everyday Alabamian in no better position than he or she was in 1901. Back then, Alabama’s ruling elite rigged the game on their own behalf. Back then, that was all the special interests would allow.

The elites locked away smart and efficient government. They created a bottleneck in the Legislature that helped to keep the favors flowing their way and out of the hands of working-class blacks and whites.

The elites built a Robin Hood-in-reverse tax system, taking more from those with the least and rewarding those with the most.

The elites designed a school system that kept most in the state from the opportunities a top-notch education affords. All the better to control the masses, the elites thought.

In other words, for the past 112 years Alabamians have lived under a Constitution that is designed to keep them down. Even worse, this is no accident. The 1901 Constitution works exactly as its proponents hoped.

If anything animates this state’s residents, it’s the impression that they are being treated with disrespect. Woe to the defenders of our Constitution when a mass of Alabamians realize the injustices done to them.
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