Wag the Dog Politics in Alabama

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By Ron Crumpton

In government things are seldom what they seem, but why would your elected leaders use spurious propaganda in order to illicit an emotional response from the electorate?

Every year, since the Republican takeover of the Alabama Legislature, the public has been roused into a state of frenzy over legislation that our leaders tout as the most important issue facing the state. They draw lines in the ground, make statements about how they “Dare to Defend Our Rights” and question the patriotism of those who do not support this critical piece of legislation. The question that we as Alabamians have to ask ourselves is just how important the legislation really was and did it really do anything to fix the problem, or is there another reason for the clamor created by our leaders.

Did Alabama’s immigration law fix the immigration problem? No, it caused labor shortages in several industries, it caused the arrest of foreign business executives and it caused taxpayer dollars to be used to defend the law in court only to have the majority of its provisions negated by court rulings against the law itself or against a similar Arizona immigration law.


Did the Accountability Act do anything to solve the education problems in Alabama? No, it was a matter of settling political scores with the AEA, and the tax cuts for those who send their children to private school is the first step in the privatization of the public school system in Alabama.

Did either of these bills do anything to solve the budget problems in Alabama, or did they cost taxpayers money in legal fees and take money out of the education system? Did the Accountability Act do anything to restore the $1300 per student that has been cut from the education budget since 2008? Did the immigration bill cause a massive drop in unemployment, raise tax revenue, or document the illegal immigrants still living in Alabama?

So, why does the Republican leadership place such emphasis on these bills?


Participants in the ‘Pick a Card’ trick. Source: Your Bleeped Up Brain – the History Channel

Recently, I was watching an episode of “Your Bleeped Up Brain,” on the History Channel. On the show, a young female magician did her take of the classic ‘pick a card’ trick. I watched as a young man drew a card, look at it and then placed it back in the deck. The young magician, eventually, pulled a breath strip package out of her pocket with the corner of the card he had chosen.

The problem was, that during the trick, the camera had moved on and off the magician several times. There were many occasions where she could have fixed the trick, but what did I miss while she was doing it.

Originally, the young magician was wearing her hair up, but during the time that the camera was on the young man, they let her hair down and they changed items of her clothing. Then, when the camera went back to her, they changed the young man who drew the card with a totally different but similar looking young man. During this time, I was so intent on figuring out the trick, that I missed everything around it.

I was not alone; they found that in showing the video to many people, very few notice the differences.

To ‘Wag the Dog’ means to purposely divert attention from what would otherwise be of greater importance, to something else of lesser significance. By doing so, the lesser-significant event is catapulted into the limelight, drowning proper attention to what was originally the more important issue.

The expression comes from the saying that ‘a dog is smarter than its tail’, but if the tail were smarter, then the tail would ‘wag the dog’.


Chairman Jim McClendon and Speaker Mike Hubbard

This is the tactic used by the Republican leadership in Alabama; they take these controversial bills and pump up the hyperbole to divide the public along racial and economic lines in order to draw attention away from other legislation or their lack of action. Whether it is a constitutional amendment that says the state does not have to follow the Full Faith and Credit Clause of the U.S Constitution when it doesn’t want to (the American and Alabama Laws for Alabama Courts Amendment) or whether it is simply to hide the fact that they have done nothing to fix education, immigration, the budget crisis or any other serious issue that we currently face.

When our leaders choose public deception over sound policy, when they choose to blame others rather than accept responsibility for the ineffectiveness of their actions, and when our leaders choose to place their own goals over the will of the people and the public good then it is time that we elect new leaders in Alabama.

A version of this column first appeared on Ron Crumpton’s Website. He is running for the Alabama Senate in District 11. Used here with permission.

© 2013 – 2016, Glynn Wilson. All rights reserved.

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