A Hole Is in the Dike!By
We Republicans should congratulate ourselves on the big thing we did at our last statewide meeting. I refer, of course, to the resolution we passed respecting the AEA.Our resolution said that the Party would cease to take money from Czar Hubbert and his AEA, that we urged Republican candidates and officeholders to do the same, and that we should help to inform teachers of the alternatives to the AEA they have.
I had been advocating such a resolution for some time, and I am naturally pleased that the State Committee has now passed it. Moreover, in my lobbying efforts I suggested that opposition to the AEA would make the best of all wedge issues between us and our liberal opponents. I pointed out that the Democrats are stuck with Hubbert, Joe Reed, and their ultra liberal labor union, because the AEA is the core of their party, just as the NEA is the core of the national Democrat party.
Confirmation of my wedge theory was not long in coming. An AP dispatch reported the passage of a Democrat resolution in which they absurdly accused Republicans of "trying to 'demonize' teachers." In the The Huntsville Times the report was under the headline "Democrats return GOP's fire over AEA."
Beautiful!- just absolutely beautiful. We pass a resolution condemning the AEA, our opponents pass one condemning us and supporting the AEA. The battle lines could not be drawn more clearly. And if only our hearts are stout enough we will be on the winning side.
Thursday night I walked into the restaurant in the Holiday Inn at Prattville. No receptionist, no waiters, just one diner. Being just the two of us alone in the empty expanse of the restaurant, it would have been impolite not to have talked. So we did. He was an older man, i.e., older than I am, a lawyer from Birmingham, and not an active Republican as well as I could tell. I was astonished at his immediate selection of a topic.
It was Paul Hubbert. "This state will never go anywhere," he said, "until we get rid of Paul Hubbert." That was his theme, and I just listened without interruption while he expanded on it at some length. I declare to you, under penalty of scorn from my wife and mother, that I gave no a priori hint of my own views. This was the spontaneous and heartfelt outpouring of this gentleman. A happenchance, isolated case? I don't think so. I sense that this man speaks for many across the state.
Till now Hubbert has proverbially snapped his finger and each legislator has jumped to attention. Now may be the moment that marks the beginning of the end of this unhealthy master-slave relationship.
Sue Schmitz, a Democrat house member, has won in a direct confrontation with Hubbert. In referring to a tourism bill sponsored by Schmitz, The Huntsville Times reported in a headline that "Measure passes despite strong AEA opposition." This successful encounter is, I believe, unprecedented.
It is ironic that a Democrat was the first to punch a hole in the dike, but the hole is there, and as holes in dikes are wont to do, it will enlarge. If Republicans are both smart and courageous, the time can soon come when being ''wrong'' on AEA will make it virtually impossible to win a legislative seat. I mean, if a Republican takes Hubbert's payola, then he would be beyond consideration. And, if a Democrat fails to show the expected homage to Czar Hubbert, then he of course is written off by the Democrats. Just as Hubbert, as is openly rumored in the press, is even now hard at the task of writing Sue Schmitz off.
In other words we want a healthy polarization: Them, the liberal pro-AEA Democrats at one pole, and us, the conservative, anti-AEA Republicans at the other pole. Then we will have our wedge issue par excellence. Hardly anything could be better for our state, our students, our government, and, oh yes, for our Party.
15 Mar 04