It happened after the French Revolution, when some of the rebellion’s leading lights went to the guillotine, and after the Russian Revolution, when Old Bolsheviks were summarily shot for questioning the party line.
Something similar, though far less bloody, is happening in the wake of the political revolution that brought the Republican Party to overwhelming power in Alabama politics.
Where once the state GOP was filled with former Democrats who made the switch during the 1970s and 1980s, today most of those are gone. Now the party is under the control of members who have never been anything but Republicans or have, with the zeal of the converted, proved their loyalty to the GOP.
That’s why anyone who wants to run on the GOP ticket must prove their political purity to the state party’s Candidate Committee. If their credentials fall short, they will not be on the Republican primary ballot. Shortcomings cast these aspiring politicians into the Republican pit of impurity.
In one case, the sins of the father were visited on the child when the son and daughter-in-law of former Democratic House Speaker Tom Drake were denied this month a place on the ballot, thus giving two Republican incumbents the nomination unopposed. “They showed no evidence that they had ever been Republicans,” state party chairman Bill Armistead explained, “and they were still tied to the Democratic Party.”
The fact that each had once run as Democrats might have been overlooked in olden times, but not today.
Meanwhile, a lawyer in Jefferson County who led the fight against the county occupational tax (a tax which Republicans roundly denounced) was also denied a place on the ballot because he had supported a Democrat over Roy Moore, the Republican candidate for Chief Justice of the Alabama Supreme Court in the most recent election. Another aspiring candidate was also kicked off the ballot for not supporting Moore.
To be a Republican, it seems you must support every candidate the party puts forth, even if you believe the other candidate is a better choice. Meanwhile, the days of Democrats switching parties and running under the GOP banner are over.
U.S. Sen. Richard Shelby, R-Tuscaloosa, and others of his generation are surely breathing a sigh of relief that these rules are not retroactive.