Dear Fellow Republican,

For some time I have been concerned about our State Party's relationship with the AEA, and I am just wondering if you share that concern.

At our dinner meeting on February 21 in Birmingham we saw at the entrance to the ballroom an easel with a display board showing the sponsors for the event. The first listed was the "Alabama Education Association." The AEA also sponsored a table at the dinner. Their table was preferentially placed directly below the speaker's stand. It was a well appointed table, with a nice glowing candle set in the middle. That candle sat there glowing all night, but to no one's comfort. It may as well have been placed under a bushel. Not one soul ever sat at the table. The AEA, having given their money, felt that that was all that was needed. No one from the AEA, apparently, had any interest in anything we Republicans might have had to say.

Now, just let me reiterate something that we all know. The AEA is the liberal hard core of the Alabama Democratic Party, and its parent the NEA is the liberal hard core of the Democrat's national party. These are the people who advocate exactly those things we abhor: abortion, promiscuity, homosexuality, invasive government, higher taxes, and especially union-dominated education. The question is obvious: By taking their money are we being co-opted by the very faction which we say we adamantly oppose, the ultra-liberal, the worst-of-the-worst Democrats?

Unfortunately there is some evidence that we are. In the election just past a remarkable thing happened. Believe it or not, one courageous Republican candidate ran some anti-AEA ads during the November campaign. Paul Hubbert, the AEA chief, learned of this and made his displeasure known. He asserted that the AEA had given "a million dollars" to Republicans and that we were "biting the hand extended with checks in it." He demanded that the Party withdraw the ads. Would you like to hear Hubbert's demand in his own voice? Then just click on this audio file:

Fortunately the ads were not withdrawn in this one instance, but who knows what has been the reaction to other Hubbert demands that we don't know about, and what might be the response to his future demands that are sure to come. For my part, I am appalled at Hubbert's shocking arrogance. You can sense the confidence in his voice and demeanor. This Democrat fully expects us Republicans to do as he says, and where does this overweening confidence come from if not from past experience?

Please give me a moment for a few philosophical musings. I promise to keep it short.

If Thomas Payne thought that his were the times that try men's souls, I wonder what he would say of these times of ours today. These are the times of rumors of wars, and even of actual wars, of fears of horrible weapons and evil dictators, and of terrible confusion. Even the most conscientious and enlightened among us is tempted to succumb to the frustration born of a sense of powerlessness, and turn away from the world in anger and despondency.

But I have a suggestion. Let's remember the prayer displayed on many needlework wall hangings, the one which prays for us to have the wisdom to know the difference between those things which we can do something about, and those which we can't. So far as I can see, you and I can do little in the short term to influence the momentous geopolitical events evolving around us today. So, as conscientious citizens looking to do something good, I suggest that we turn our attention and our intellect to something that we can influence, a problem right here in our state, something, in fact, that is wholly indigenous to our Party.

You know what I mean. I mean the Alabama Party's unhealthy relationship with the AEA. I have some concrete ideas about what needs to be done, but for now all I am asking is that we begin to discuss the issue. I would greatly appreciate it if you would let me hear from you.

Incidentally I have deliberately chosen not to consult with the Party leadership before sending this message. Our leaders are daily confronted with many complex problems of politics and diplomacy that we at the grassroots don't have to worry about. Since they have no prior knowledge of what I am doing, they are in no way implicated, and are therefore free to respond, or not to respond, as they may think best.


Hugh McInnish
Madison County, Place 1
State Executive Committee