Arts & Entertainment Editor
In the buffoonery that is Alabama politics, the state’s most ridiculous clown has finally resigned from the governor’s throne, assuring voters that he had, in fact, done something illegal.
Now that the voters’ monocle is no longer focused on Robert Bentley broadcasting tomfoolery, Alabama lawmakers can return to serious work like posturing with fruitless legislation.
But, what’s new? Our state’s politicians have long been the butt of the joke in every statesman’s cigar room, at least since the reign of former Gov. George C. Wallace.
It’s one thing to be corrupt—as we imagine all politicians probably are—but it’s a completely separate and distinct foolishness our representatives have amassed to be so blatantly shameful.
Alabama has had a long history of choosing governors and other state officers who campaign on moral and ethical values, louder and more bombastic than the rest. Instead of picking officers who are intelligent, well-spoken and assiduous, voters have historically chosen candidates who say exactly what they want to hear.
It’s because of this, Alabama voters are swayed by the “good preacher effect.”
A good pastor aims to teach, to share his own insight to anyone who will listen. He repeats certain ideas over and over, until it’s etched in our minds, until we’ve heard it so much that we believe it’s indisputable.
It’s like the age of earth. Most people don’t even have to think about the answer because it’s been ingrained in our minds since youth in science books; the answer is 4.6 billion years.
There is no empirical data to confirm that “fact,” but we don’t question it.
This is the good preacher effect: we hear something so often that we associate it with absolute truth. Bentley campaigned on faith-based and fiscally conservative values and a commitment to his constituents to represent those values in his leadership.
Like President Donald Trump, he pandered to his base by offering an ambiguous solution to a problem that didn’t exist. Bentley’s slogan: “Alabama is sick, and we need a doctor.”
He was an outsider looking in, filling the role of an anti-establishment idealist whom Alabama voters desperately wanted.
He lured voters like a clown in a storm drain, enticing them with a morally upstanding government—an honest representation of his constituent’s values.
But like precocious, unlearned children, we reached for his empty promises like balloons and fell off our moral high horses into the sewer among the ruin of broken dreams.
I would end on an optimistic note, saying that maybe we’ll learn this time, but we were taught long before Bentley to never take balloons from clowns.