Partisan political prosecution


Our First President George Washington advised that America should not have political parties. Washington was a very wise man. His leadership solidified the beginning of the bedrock of our Democracy. He was one of, if not our greatest presidents.
If he were here today to observe the bitter, tremendous, partisan divide in our nation, he would be amazed at how salient his admonishment toward political parties was 250 years ago. The partisan division in our nation is vast, deep and entrenched. We are basically two Americas. Our states are enshrined into red Republican or blue Democratic bastions.
We are tribal in our defense and allegiance to our party. Indeed, most Americans vote a straight ticket. Sixty years ago, 40 to 45 states were in play in a presidential contest. Today, only 5 to 10 states are truly swing states, and these handfuls of states are where the presidential election is held.
We have had a history of vicious political campaigns throughout our national political archives. Andrew “Ole Hickory” Jackson was one of the toughest generals and presidents in the annals of American history but his political enemies penetrated his very thick skin when they attacked his wife, Rachel. The venomous arrows directed toward Rachel drove her into a deep depression and caused her death.
However, never before has a political party used the courts as a political tool. This year’s use of the Judicial System by the Democrats against Trump is plowing new ground. It makes us look like a banana republic to the world. Any third grader can see that four indictments in four totally Democratic venues is political prosecution.
The Democrats’ underhanded plan was designed to make Donald Trump the Republican nominee because they perceived he would be easy to defeat. At the time of the first frivolous indictment in New York, Trump was not going to be the GOP nominee. However, the Democratic Party anticipated that the Republican faithful would rally behind the beleaguered Trump and the antagonism towards the Democratic misuse of the judicial system would accrue to Trump’s advantage. Man, did it ever work. They have made Trump the nominee, but they have overplayed their hand. They may have elected him. They have played right into his hands. They have made the election nothing more than a Vaudeville comedy or reality television show and, folks, Trump is a reality show TV star. He knows how to play that role. They may have just put Br’er Rabbit in the briar patch.
Partisan political persecution is very wrong. If it continues it will keep any decent person from running for political office. We have had our share of political prosecution in Alabama. Two of our most recent governors, Guy Hunt and Don Siegelman, were removed from office by gross, unjust, political prosecution.
Guy Hunt, who was our first Republican governor since Reconstruction and a Primitive Baptist preacher, was prosecuted by an overzealous Democratic attorney general for taking a love offering for preaching a sermon because he flew on the state jet to the church event.
The most egregious, outrageous, cruel, unfair political persecution in Alabama history was the prosecution and imprisonment of former Gov. Don Siegelman. He was sent to federal prison for almost a decade of his life for attempting to pass a lottery for the citizens of Alabama.
A political campaign committee simply solicited contributions from a legitimate political action committee that was raising and spending money advertising to pass a lottery that would not benefit Siegelman one dime. He would in no way receive any of the funds personally or politically. Therefore, he was in no way guilty of violating the Ethics Law or any law. He benefitted zero, yet he was convicted and condemned to federal prison.
When young people come to me and ask if they should seek political office, I use this unbelievably unjust Don Siegelman story and ask them if they want this for their life. The man spent almost a decade of his life in federal prison for trying to get Alabama a lottery similar to Georgia’s that would give free college tuition for Alabama students to go to college and community colleges in Alabama.
See you next week.

Steve Flowers’ weekly column appears in more than 60 Alabama newspapers. He served 16 years in the state legislature.