Governor Riley of my usually fucked-up state of Alabama supported and gained the support of the state legislature in the unanimous passage of a bill designed to prevent the misuse of eminent domain authorized by the recent Kelo vs. The City of Weare, CT, decision. The surprising thing isn't that Governor Riley spearheaded this effort, as he, citing his belief that the least of us should not face an unfair burden as part and parcel of his personal beliefs, has done this sort of thing before. The surprising thing is that he somehow managed to get the state Senate to actually do something about it, when they couldn't even be bothered to pass a state budget that had passed the state House of Representatives because of a protracted internal power struggle. As an example, he also proposed a truly revolutionary tax plan back in 2003 that would have increased the standard and dependent deductions to reduce the burden on the poorest and the middle class who still, thanks to the failure of said plan by way of statewide referendum, shoulder a disproportionate amount of the state's tax burden. The standard income tax deduction varies, of course, by situation, but is among the lowest in the nation.
I'm sure that if you are from a state other than Alabama or its neighbors, you may be of the mistaken belief that Governor Riley is a moderate Democrat. However, the truth could not be a difference. He's a conservative Republican who has (thankfully extremely rarely) cited his faith as a reason for his reform efforts. I think he mishandled the evacuation orders during Hurricane Dennis, and I don't agree with other things that he's done, but I think he's brought an unusual level of integrity and intelligence to the office of the Governor of Alabama. I've spent the better part of the last three years being deeply thankful for the fact that we finally have a governor who is not a complete embarrassment, after a possibly endless stream of those who were. Don Siegelman (D), Fob James (R), Jim Folsom (unknown), Guy Hunt (R), and George Wallace (Dixiecrat) are just a few examples of governors we would have been better off without. I can honestly say that he and Senator Joe Lieberman of, ironically enough, Connecticut, are two of a very small number of politicians who, I feel, have earned my respect.
So to my friends on the left and on the right, I say this as a reminder of the fact that the problem with this nation isn't the Democratic Party or the Republican Party. It's the people who run both of them. Also, I say this as a reminder that I'm not always interested in complaining about problems. Sometimes, I can be positive, when sufficiently motivated, and this news certainly qualifies.