By Steve Flowers
Over the years, I have discussed my observations and concepts of the two different roles or routes taken by a U.S. Senator or Congressman during their tenure in Washington.
One clearly chooses one of two postures in their representation of you in Washington. Our delegates to DC are either benefactors or idealogues.
The role of benefactor is much better for any state, especially Alabama. This public figure is not only a benefactor but also a facilitator and a statesman. In other words, this person is interested and diligent in bringing home federal dollars to the Heart of Dixie.
The perfect example of a benefactor, facilitator and a statesman senator is our current U.S. Sen. Richard Shelby. No senator in Alabama history has brought home more federal dollars to our state than Shelby. He has helped Alabama more during his 36-years in the senate than any other senator.
The second role is idealogue. This politician sees his role as a zealot on issues. The idealogue is more interested in advocating for popular social and non-economic issues with no regard for the state’s financial interests.
Beginning in the 1930s and extending for 30 years through the 1960s, we had two of the greatest U.S. Senators in history. Lister Hill and John Sparkman were giants in Washington and were erudite diplomats for our state. They can aptly be described as benefactors, facilitators and statesmen for Alabama.
During the 1970s and 1980s, we had two well-respected and effective senators in Judge Howell Heflin and Richard Shelby.
Upon arrival of Jeff Sessions in 1996, as the state’s first true blue Republican, we witnessed the portrayal of our first true idealogue. Sessions was the most right-wing, reactionary Republican in the U.S. Senate. However, he was not a demagogue, he was a true believer and one of the most honest and gentlemanly men I have ever observed in the public arena. He was also well qualified and prepared to be a U.S. Senator having been a U.S. Attorney and Attorney General of Alabama.
Alabama cannot afford to have the ultimate demagogic idealogue, Mo Brooks, follow Shelby. It would literally be like exchanging the most effective U.S. Senator in Alabama history with the least effective senator in Alabama history. We would go from having the number one, most powerful senator to the last place number 100th effectiveness for their state in Washington. It would be worse than not having a senator, because the image that Brooks portrays for Alabama is so harmful that we would be better off not to have a second senator, and for a state that depends on federal dollars that would not be a good position for Alabama.
A large portion of Alabama’s federal largesse dollars go to the Huntsville area. Brooks has been the congressman from this area for 10 years. He has done nothing towards federal and economic growth in the Huntsville-Tennessee Valley area. Brooks has been an obstacle. He prefers being a bomb-thrower to being an effective representative. The entire growth and prosperity of the Huntsville area can be attributed to Shelby with local assistance from Mayor Tommy Battle.
Brooks laissez faire attitude towards government and his allegiance and loyalty to the right-wing clandestine Club for Growth is toxic for Alabama and our dependence on defense dollars. Brooks is an irrelevant, right-wing gadfly whom people just laugh at like a crazy uncle they keep locked in a closet. He has become a national poster boy for crazy theatrics. The image he gives to Alabama hurts us immensely in Washington. He is a pariah for Alabama’s future.
Brooks would be a deterrent for Alabama procuring additional or even keeping our current federal defense dollars in Alabama. If Brooks is elected as our senator to replace Shelby, you can expect Redstone Arsenal’s growth to stop and you can kiss the space command headquarters coming to Alabama good-bye.
Furthermore, those of you who live in the Montgomery River Region area and those of you who live in the Wiregrass and have depended on Maxwell-Gunter and Ft. Rucker as your economic engines for generations better grab hold of your wallet. With Brooks as the senator from Alabama, you may very well see these mega military economic meccas moved to California.
See you next week.
Steve Flowers is Alabama’s leading political columnist. His weekly column appears in over 60 Alabama newspapers. He served 16 years in the state legislature. Steve may be reached at: www.steveflowers.us.