- Cullman, Alabama


November 16, 2011

Beason’s fall from power

Scott Beason’s fall from power in the Alabama Senate was overdue after his degrading comments about black citizens.

As the powerful chairman of the Rules Committee in the Senate, Beason had every reason to conduct business with the highest respect toward all citizens. But he didn’t, and that’s why his own party chose to strip him of his duties as the head of the agenda-setting committee.

Beason was reportedly upset when Republican leaders informed him of the decision. So be it. Perhaps the maturity needed for serving in the Senate will arrive later for Beason.

The decision to replace Beason with veteran lawmaker Jabo Waggoner is an extended olive branch by Republicans who are rightfully concerned that the continued presence of the Gardendale senator would create problems heading into the new session of the Legislature.

Democrats were understandably upset with Beason’s remarks, as were many Republicans. But pushing Beason aside concerns much more than politics.

Many Alabama leaders, in both political parties, has worked hard to overcome the state’s segregation-era reputation. The open racism that once dominated life in Alabama was swept away in the Civil Rights movement. Avoiding even a hint of a return to the prevailing politics of that time would be disastrous for the state, which has made tremendous strides in creating a new image and recruiting overseas investors.

Interestingly, Beason was also one of the leaders in passing the state’s maligned immigration law. The negative glare of national and international scorn for the tone and impact of the bill has been relentless. Downsizing Beason’s power was certainly a wise move, and one that should allow Republicans and Democrats to focus on urgent economic issues when they return to Montgomery next year.

For Beason, his political career is in jeopardy. But that doesn’t mean he is finished. Politics is all about comebacks, provided some lessons are learned and the motivation is honest.

If Beason chooses to remain in the political arena, he should take time to seriously reconsider the purpose for which he was elected. There are those who believe the senator is capable of being an effective lawmaker, but that will only happen when he realizes that leadership requires compassion and respect for everyone who calls Alabama home.

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