Why I Can’t Care About My Vote

I knew it when I made my decision early in the summer. I knew people would be mad. I knew some GOP folks would be disappointed and I knew some ‘expected better.’

People are mad as hell about us non-straight-ticket voters. We’re wasting votes, they won’t count, it’s a vote for Reid/Obama/Pelosi/Jimmy Carter/Hitler, it’s unprincipled, it’s wrong. In reality, I’ve never publicly stated who I’m voting for in which races and I’ve been rather critical of all the candidates…because no one is perfect. I’ve been honest with those that ask. But even the idea of questioning has put me on the chopping block with people I call friends.

There are folks who have stopped calling, texting, engaging. They feel they have to distance themselves from me, politically…at least “through the election cycle.” Because that’s what a lot of political friends are…surface level. Whether they’re angry, bitter, scared, I seem to have become a threat to their credibility. Seems like most people just don’t know what to do about me…and anyone else who isn’t cut from the 2014 cloth.

It’s like I left the farm, married outside the cult, sought refuge with the enemy, branded a scarlet letter…however you want to describe it. And I’m not alone. The laundry list of folks who aren’t voting straight ticket this year and have been shunned and outcasted by their fellow party pals is miles long.

For me, 2014 is the first major election cycle where I’ve interacted with people in this capacity and on this level. In 2010, I was just a baby envelope-licking volunteer and in 2012, I was still a ‘Jessica What’s-her-last-name?” I certainly didn’t vocalize my opinions as I do now.

To say that it’s frustrating to hear 60%, 70% and 80% friends are sufficient to be accepted by fellow conservatives but then see it fail in practicality is an understatement. What’s interesting is that I’ve had SEVERAL people ask me privately who I’m voting for in specific races, but only one of them has asked me why. And that person is 21 years old. I think that speaks volumes about what’s going on in our political environment right now. The why stopped mattering months ago.  It’s war now and we’re out for blood.

Like I wrote in a previous article about the worst thing about people in politics, I can’t be angry with the people who don’t agree with me or the ones who feel I have abandoned the GOP in some races on the ballot. It’s not the first time for some other folks but it is for me, and politics certainly isn’t the end-all-be-all of life (amazing fact, isn’t it?!). But politics is personal – whether it be about candidates or issues, it’s painfully personal- and all about relationships. In the quiet, the shunned are sad about what this as all come to.

To be clear, this isn’t a ‘woe is me’ plea.  I’m just fine and I’ll continue to be just fine. I’ve yet to write something I don’t stand behind and I’m not too damaged by the political process to not admit when I’m wrong. There are plenty of people ‘protest voting’ out of anger but what about those of us who genuinely feel convicted to do something different?

I think a lot of people assumed I had ‘toned it down’ after the Delvis Dutton campaign, and in a lot of ways I have, but if I took anything away from that experience, it’s to stay true to my principles and convictions. If that means that folks within the GOP don’t ever let us seasonal and rogue Republicans back into their rodeo ring, so be it. Conscience and principle is a sword I’m willing to fall on. If that means losing friends and influence, I’m okay with that too.

The reality is that whether this election ends in November or January, it will end. Then what happens? Do we hug it out? Or is the nail in the coffin bludgeoned by a sledgehammer prepared for a shallow grave of GOP used-to-be’s who will taint the cause because of that one time we fled the compound?

The Value in Legislating a Life

A lot of folks have probably seen it by now…the articles detailing the tragic fate of a newlywed 29-year-old who’s currently battling stage 4 of an aggressive brain cancer and has limited time left to live. She posted a video explaining why, on November 1 of this year, she will end her own life using medicine prescribed by a doctor, effectively giving her a peaceful and painless exit of this life. Her other option is to endure what could be months of tragic pain and suffering  and in her words, ‘dignity is less terrifying’.

Who could blame her? Not a single soul will admit that they ever want to see a loved one suffer and end-of-life care is generally hardest on surrounding family members and caregivers. She and her family moved to Oregon at the beginning of the year because Oregon is the only state currently with a ‘Death with Dignity Act’, allowing assisted suicide.

I’m not sure if it’s the graceful photos of her on her wedding day in a beautiful dress with her new husband, the glimpses of what her happy life should look like, or if it’s the tone of her message but the story seems to be resonating with folks across political spectrums and into all walks of life.

Studies, polls, and conversation alike will show that many Americans are still wary of assisted suicide, but more willing than you would think. After all, it’s only legal in FOUR state in the United States and the circumstantial laws are so strict that in states like Oregon, only 750 people have ‘used’ the method (since 1997) as a means of ending their own life. As a society, we grieve for those who fall victim to suicide but we also condemn it. (By this, I mean we condemn the act to those before suffering. We are brought up to reach out to those in pain, but that is because it is viewed as wrong.) The taking of one’s own life in most faithful circles is sin, and we’ve seen a tremendous resistance to removing conventional, faith-based societal norms in exchange for more tolerance and acceptance in culture today.

So why are people not completely appalled by this idea this time around?  Some say it’s based on how it’s described. Are they so numb to the concept as a whole that they don’t see it for what it is? Are people accepting of it ‘just this once’? Or has the sensitivity, the pain in the tone of the story and the humanity of it all brought about a different perspective? And where does humanity take us in legislating morality, because this is a moral debate.

I think we already know…

The Worst Thing About People in Politics…

Yesterday was annoying. Mitt Romney came to town for a lunchtime fundraiser for Attorney General Sam Olens. My first thought: Who has a fundraiser at 1pm on a weekday? Second question: Why on earth would anyone attend?

Personally, I can’t stand Romney. I’m sure he is a wonderful husband and a doting father (not so good to the pups, but I digress) but he represents yet another failure of the Republican party. A complete and utter failure. Relax, we know he didn’t do it alone. He’s not all to blame, but that is what he represents. And then you add in the whole ‘Will he run again in 2016′ thing and we’re circling the drain of wasted time and painful memories yet again.

So back to yesterday. All the pictures were understandably irritating and I was once again reminded that the Republican Party is painfully and gut-wrenchingly diverse and there are still people who love him. People who idolize him. People who hang on his every moderately-purple word. And by him, I mean all the people like him because there are plenty of Romney-like figures floating around with (R).

The worst thing about people in politics that that you will never understand the real reason someone supports a candidate. Life experiences, financial obligations (or lack thereof), friendships, employment, childhood, family, physical (and mental, God love it) health status, they all play a role. And sometimes the reason is ‘just because’ and that’s hard for many of us to understand.

The worst thing about people in politics is that we don’t get any input on how others think. You can, at some point in the process, influence why they think something – and more often than not this is done by negative reinforcement (i.e. – angry Ron Paul supporting convention attendees) which I don’t recommend, but it is done that way. The positive stuff takes much more time. Generally, political people are set in their ways. It takes a system-rocking earthquake to chip away at the ole fundamental block. People in politics think the way they do because of every experience they’ve had to date. And lets not forget that the political game is unforgiving. People remember everything. If you ran that stop sign in that roundabout just that one time because you were sure you were right…it will never be forgotten.

The worst thing about people in politics is that we are always talking on different wavelengths. My way is more principled than your way. Your way is more effective than mine. You’ve been doing it this way for as long as you can remember and heck, look at all you’ve accomplished. We are so sure that we are right and we are so one-track-minded that we talk at each other and check our decorum at the door. Especially during election season – which is basically always.

The worst thing about people in politics is that we are playing the party game. But everyone has a role in the Republican party (even if it’s not in an ‘official capacity’) and those of us that don’t fit that perfect cookie cutter Republican mold are often angered by the actions of others. Us Liberty-minded folks get mad when these ‘Standard Republicans’…support Republicans? They say our candidates are too ‘Libertarian minded’ while we stomp around mad because they run a Romney or a Christie or a Perdue…someone we don’t see in our own vision of ‘conservatism’. But we can’t be mad that a party official tries to mobilize people for the nominee. We can’t be mad that an activist is spending their Saturday licking envelopes for someone who whooped your hiney in a primary. That’s their job. Just because it’s not your way doesn’t make it wrong.

The worst thing about people in politics is that we are all different and see the final destination as something unlike anyone else’s vision. The road map to get there recommends a different route, the means of which you transport yourself are different and the snacks you pack for the road probably taste like crap…in the eyes of someone else. The ones you have to worry about are the ones that don’t have goals, the ones that are just treading water and standing around waiting to put a nail in your tire.

But the worst thing about people in politics is that it’s also the best thing about people in politics.

Why the Christian Right is Wrong on Religious Liberty

Religious Liberty

Before anyone strokes out, let’s preface with this: While I struggle with how to classify religious liberty – Is it a social issue? Is it a fundamental issue? A Constitutional one? Simply something we will forever fight as the culture of society changes? – I do support religious liberty.

For the sake of ease of understanding and frame of reference, let’s consider a same-sex couple seeking to have a wedding/civil union/grand party – whatever the state allows – and they are seeking vendors for various services. They live in a moderately-sized city where there are multiple options for attire, cakes, DJ’s and venues.

We have to first consider a premise that most conservatives, but not all Republicans, would agree with: Under no circumstance should any business be forced to do anything. Whether the mandate be for hours of operation, location, employee diversity or minimum wage, the government has no place. Who you serve, how you serve, when you serve is a slippery slope.

But that slope slides both ways (pun not intended). Religious liberty is a teetering topic just perched upon the peak of the mountain waiting for anyone to slip on a banana peel forcing an avalanche down either side. When a business starts refusing business to a certain type of people, folks immediately and unfortunately jump back to the pre-Civil Rights Movement days where we saw hatred oozing from segregated areas. On the other side, we have folks operating under a system of government that neither respects private enterprise or religion. At that point, what good are we?

But it isn’t the same. While religious freedom is our first and fundamental God-given right so sacred that it is enumerated in the Constitution, religious liberty goes a tad further. Religious liberty expands to freedom of belief through practice, not just observance. It goes beyond Christianity, and much to the chagrin of the Left, it also protects the atheists and the agnostic.

So back to our same-sex couple looking for vendors. The argument that a person shouldn’t want someone who doesn’t support what they’re doing to perform a service for them’ is one of the lousier arguments out there for any political argument. Please stop using it. No, of course no one wants to consider sabotage or hap-hazard work because of, in their case, their sexual orientation and that’s likely not going to be the what happens with a business owner. I don’t see a service provider jeopardizing their reputation of quality. Perhaps principle, but not quality of a product. So what is the real protection for those who feel religious liberty protections would only spread hatred and discrimination?

The market. The free market generally cleanses communities of these businesses as citizens see fit. Consider Melissa Klein, the New York baker who refused to make a cake for a gay couple and was subsequently forced to shut down her business over the controversy. The correct way for a business to be put out of business is through reduced patronage, not because the government has regulated it into oblivion and the pending legal costs from a civil suit tank the entire operation. We should pause when the federal standard is more protective of limiting government than that of Georgia (or any state). In Georgia, you can sue someone for not performing a service for you.

And in fixing it, one size doesn’t fit all. Look at the demographics just in our state. In Atlanta, we tend to be a little more tolerant. A business unwilling to serve a gay couple, for instance, would likely face substantial blow-back versus that in rural Georgia where citizens would probably pay for a one-way ticket out-of-town for a couple to be patrons elsewhere. Each community is different and blanket laws won’t solve what some would consider ‘morality issues’. And let’s be realistic: cultures vary. We support that with our “Not in our town!” mentality about everything. Why is this any different? Trying to legislate humans into being what some folks consider ‘good people’ is a recipe for failure. If a business is turning away revenue – there must be a substantial cause for that and who are we to decide if that cause is worthy or not?

While the Hobby Lobby case seems to be dominating the news market, there are many more cases like this popping up all around our state and nation. Our classrooms, our small business owners – they’re all wading through this muddied mess of law versus morality and while we’ve tried to fix it, we’re only making it worse.

So far, here’s where I think we’ve messed up:
Going back to our double-sided ski slope, we have to recognize that this is yet another issue where we are on the chopping block in the media and we likely won’t win. Having said that, we should still be sensitive to the tone and wording. ‘Religious freedom’ means something different to a lot of folks as opposed to ‘religious liberty’. Many see ‘freedom’ as ‘ability’ and ‘liberty’ as ‘protection’. We should acknowledge the distinction.

The conversation may not have started the properly. So much of legislation is first about teaching and educating. When we teach and educate, the conversation travels both ways and we ended up with better legislation. We’ve charged an issue literally clinging to our guns and our religion and it has fogged the entire debate. Hobby Lobby brought out some zealots and the media clung to them. We have to distance ourselves from Hobby Lobby and those zealots. Our argument needs to be crafted two-fold: First, that this isn’t just about Christians, it’s about all religions. We are here to protect the religious liberty of all. And second, this is about the role of government.

We also handed the note to the wrong carrier pigeon. This is where the Christian Right comes into play and can make a difference. My long-time establishment friends will be proud to hear me say this, but it seems like a more moderate person has to carry a bill and be the talking head. I commend those across various states who have put themselves in the line of fire because others are unwilling. It’s noble, but it may not be effective. It’s why Congressman Broun can’t carry the torch. Because this is about religion, but not one specific religion.

So to sum up:

  • Religious liberty at its core is about limited government.
  • The current messengers for religious liberty may not be the right ones at this time.
  • The term ‘religious freedom’ could be damaging to the cause because again, people don’t understand.
  • We’re living in an era where the ‘general public’ might not understand what the end goal is so the first step is conversation, not legislation. You can’t drop a knowledge bomb on someone without first offering a firm definition of what is to be done.

As for the couple looking for vendors, if they want to limit the role of the state for issues like, oh say, marriage, they must understand that government should also be limited elsewhere.

Is GMO labeling too much government?

Label-It

It’s rare that I don’t have a concrete opinion on an issue but I recently had a conversation with someone over whether or not GMO labeling is something that should come to Georgia. Whether you believe in the dangers of Genetically Modified food, it matters not in this case. There is a growing movement for ‘truth in food’ and labeling in states around the country and it’s only a matter of time before the conversation comes to Georgia. We should be prepared because the point of contention is the role of government in consumer information.

In a quality conversation, we should consider all sides of the legislative sphere and not just what benefits us. So let’s begin.

Currently, only Vermont, Maine and Connecticut have passed legislation requiring labeling and Colorado and Oregon put it on the ballot where it previously failed. The Center for Food Safety has a comprehensive list of states with pending initiatives, including Georgia as soon-to-be-Former State Rep. Josh Clark introduced legislation during the 2014 session.

Keep in mind that similar legislation applies only  to food grown or manufactured in that state. In considering the role of government, many would agree that this should be done at the state level (unless you’re viewing this the same way many view cigarette labeling). When considering effectiveness, one at least has to acknowledge that random states passing legislation could be disjointed and choppy. The responsibility of raising awareness would still fall on grassroots organizations and on informed consumers. In today’s America, that is a lot to ask.

So, some questions I have:

  • Would it drive food manufacturers out of Georgia? This obviously wouldn’t be an option for agriculture as their land is here but food companies who process manufactured food (food that isn’t from the earth and is made solely from…’other stuff’), would they simply up and leave the state?
  • What undue burden would this place on our farmers? By far one of the most important ones. Does it apply to produce stands? Is there a revenue bench mark? And if so, that then draws into question whether the law is just and applicable across the board.
  • What is the cost on businesses? How much will it cost them?
  • What does labeling entail? Sometimes it’s ingredients and sometimes it’s the process. If it’s simply the ingredients, that’s useless because companies will just change their process to skirt around compliance. That’s what they did with MSG in the early 2000’s.

There is already a movement called the Non-GMO Project with a lot of steam and zazz behind it. Many would say that projects such as this will weed out the -via the free market- those companies that have no desire to be transparent.
To their credit, there are a large number of companies backing labeling – currently over 650. Some of the organizations in favor of food labeling include: Odwalla, Chipolte, Stonyfield Farm, Organic Valley, Eden Foods and Numi.
Some of the larger players against GMO food labeling include Coca-Cola, PepsiCo, General Mills, Nestle USA, Hormel, Kellogg, Land O Lakes, and Du Pont.
The counter to that argument is two-fold: First, only organizations that are NON-GMO are labeling. Those are using GMO products are not indicating so. Secondly, sometimes it is indeed the role of the government to inform the uninformed so long as we are operating under the current system with the FDA and State Agriculture Commissioners.

As you can see, the possible ramifications are quite complicated and the grey area seems to muddy the black and white. Georgia doesn’t exactly have a reputation for being Liberty-minded when it comes to agriculture or food rights (see Delbert Bland’s Vidalia Onions and previous raw milks legislation) but I hope they can at least start the conversation. It would be to our benefit that this process be slow as the quick things they do generally don’t help We, The People. And I would be lying if I said there wasn’t a little part of me that wanted to stick it to big companies that are doing shady things with a lack of transparency….but that doesn’t make good policy and it still doesn’t answer the question of whether or not that is the role of government when consumers have a choice.

 

 

City Life: Not the American Dream

Depending on when you started reading this blog, you may or may not have followed the Green Acres reenactment documented here. If you didn’t, it may help with perspective if you catch up. If you did, great…let’s pick up where we left off.

Before we go forward though, let’s acknowledge that to industry standard of blogging something on here will offend someone. That’s the point. Those are the things that make us think critically. And today we will think critically about concrete jungles.

City life is suffocating. City life is suffocating and we often don’t even know why. We attribute it to the stress of our jobs, bills, the traffic, the weather, and family-work life balance accompanied by a laundry list of other things. It lacks the freedom and peace of life outside the metro areas where you embrace those around you and not only see, but feel your surroundings. You see yourself in the mirror, not the clock in the background telling your you’re late yet again.

Here in the city, we wake up and do the same thing every day. Same time, same place. Every 5th house is the same- literally the exact same floor plan- just different colors on the walls. Builders scoot by because we want what our neighbors want (or at least we think we do) and of course, it’s the cheapest way to do it and how much of an investment are we really looking to have here? It’s not like it’s our forever home. We will have to move again in 5 years because this just isn’t the right fit. We have the same car, just a different color and of course, everything is a competition.

It’s a race to and from the city to work and back. Sometimes to and from the suburbs. It matters not, though, because it’s all just miles upon hours just roasting in a concrete vacuum that literally and figuratively sucks the life out of you while you grow to hate thy neighbor because they just cut you off on your morning commute and you both needed those two car lengths but you were distracted by the slew of emails and didn’t quite stay close enough to that bumper in front of you. They snuck in and now your mood is altered.

You work all day but you don’t remember much about it. At 5 pm, you hop in the car back to the concrete vacuum because one hour in the morning wasn’t enough.  You may take a moment to think about “what else is out there” but the honking and expletives quickly shake you from that.

You return home to reflect on what you did that day, searching for something, anything tangible, that you produced but there is nothing. You go to bed early because you have to do it all over again tomorrow. Lather, Rinse, Repeat.

What happened to small town America? What happened to the producers? The foundations of a quality life? I once heard that you don’t add value unless you mine it, manufacture it, or grow it. Sure, we do other things too, like provide services, but for what? What is our purpose? Some people love their job, but most either love their job or just love the fruits of their labors. I could make this immensely political, but I’ll refrain.

Mostly I want to know what happened to the longevity of a life? Establishing roots? Where is the love of community? How can we help our neighbor if we never meet them? We never meet them because we’re never home. We work hard to afford a home and things we never get to enjoy because we’re too busy earning. What are we teaching our children if we spend two hours with them before bed? How much of us is passed off to them if we’re not around? What IS our purpose? What do we want to leave behind?

If you love your city life, I suggest staying here. Don’t leave. Don’t go breathe. Don’t drive on a dirt road where the only thing that slows you down is your own fear. Because when you get back, you won’t know what to do and you’ll feel the choke hold of the rat race that is inescapable and leaves you wondering everyday, ‘What is different about today?’

These days, on the off-chance that I get to cruise on the expressway upwards of 80 mph, it’s freeing. It’s a brief escape and I can almost feel free if I close my eyes for just a couple of seconds…just before I hit the I-285 merge and it starts all over again. Lather, Rinse, Repeat.

 

Setting the Record Straight

Friday I wrote a blog on third-party voting which focused on poor messaging tactics and an inability to drive voters to the polls. Nowhere in the article was a specific candidate mentioned negatively by name. All of this sparked a colorful and lengthy dialogue in the comments section. In said comments section, Rep. Christian Coomer (R-Cartersville) took to a full-blown monologue for Governor Deal, essentially using my blog as a platform for the Governor, mostly because he is a Floor Leader. The retort below is a simple attempt to illustrate how people become symptoms, and then causes, of this vicious cyclical problem we call politics.

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(Photo from AJC)

In his diatribe, Rep. Coomer covered many things but what struck a nerve with me was his applause of Governor Deal’s signature on language in the comprehensive gun bill which essentially removed power from the Governor’s office during a declared state of emergency. Within the banter, he first said the media had nothing to do with this language passage and then later acknowledged that he and I discussed it in an [uncomfortable] face-to-face meeting before again saying the media pressure never happened. I know his claims to be false because I am the person who wrote the article on Peach Pundit which, within 18 minutes of publishing, prompted a text message from the Governor’s office to the sponsor of the bill to schedule a meeting about HB 100 (after years of ignoring the bill and the sponsor). I know all of these things to be true and so does Rep. Coomer – despite his attempt to tell me otherwise publicly. To be clear, this is not about me getting credit. It’s about being honest with The People, because the normal everyday people never know the inside baseball. It’s, again, about shaping a campaign message to be something that it is not. These types of things create a breakdown in trust between elected officials and citizens.

Additionally, Rep. Coomer indicated that I erred in implying that he and I differ philosophically because he and I have only had one in-person conversation. To that, I offer this: Legislators have voting records. I watch many, including his. Voting records, in turn, reflect one of two things: 1) That you’re principled and your ideology is consistent, or 2) That you’re not principled and your votes reflect yet another colorful amalgamation of who you’re accountable to. This leads me to my next point.

In my blog, I also made mention of plans to skip races on the ballot in November. Rep. Coomer took me to task saying,

“I really do believe that if any person, especially a conservative or libertarian, has a mature sense of responsibility to their state and community, has enough raw information…and has the mental capacity of critical thinking…then he or she will come to the conclusion that Nathan Deal should be reelected…”

Basically, if you don’t agree with Rep. Coomer, you’re a complete idiot that lacks the mental capacity for critical thinking. I propositioned him, asking why he had the right to sit on the House Floor and abstain from casting a vote but I was not granted that same privilege. He didn’t respond, but records show me that since being elected, Rep. Coomer has missed over 100 votes in 160 days of legislative service.

I’ve watched from the gallery as Rep. Coomer sat idly in his seat during votes, but this photo of Rep. Coomer sitting on the House Floor during the vote of Senate Bill 65 in 2014 - watching, waiting to see what everyone else is doing is quite compelling, mostly because this was controversial legislation that dealt directly with the freedoms and liberties of the mentally ill.

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In this photo, you can see that Rep. Coomer (indicated by the yellow arrow) is deeply intrigued by the vote of SB 65 (red arrow) and his name on the voting board (green arrow). When looking at the House Clerk website, you can see that he ultimately did not cast a vote, despite the fact that he was sitting in his seat. Now THAT’S intriguing.

Consider House Rule 133: “When the question is put, every member within the chamber shall vote unless the member is immediately and particularly interested therein or unless the member is excused by the House. A motion by a member to be excused from voting must be made before the House divides or before the call of the yeas and nays is commenced, and it shall be decided without debate. The member making the motion may briefly state the reason why it should prevail. In every case where the seat of a member is being contested, the sitting member and the contestant shall both retire from the House before the vote is taken.”

Coomer was also the sponsor of a bill (HB 516) during the 2014 session where the entire House Leadership got up and walked out during the vote so they wouldn’t have to be on record casting that vote. Did the gentleman from Cartersville speak up? And why not? What did he have to lose? Is this adequate representation for the people of his district?

It is a fact that in the monologue above, I made a complete example out of Christian Coomer. But that is a consequence of opening Pandora’s box. He engaged the conversation with me on my blog.  It’s not one-sided. And never did I say I wasn’t voting for his guy. I simply opened the conversation about voting tendencies this cycle. When elected, you have to be willing to answer the tough questions and I offered him every opportunity to do so while he made baseless implications against me and continued to blur the Deal campaign message into some irrelevant sloppy essay.

Elected officials are supposed to represent The People. More importantly, they are to be the example. This elected official, and a floor leader for the Governor no less, had no problem glossing over my factual points, shaming others, shifting blame and furthering the distrust and nasty image Georgia Republicans are battling right now. The image that we are out of touch, care only about ladder-climbing, and will try to squash any opposing opinion at any cost. People just want the truth and to know what to expect. Principles. If we can’t do things in a principled way, we shouldn’t do them and we don’t deserve the positive results.

When I worked on my first real campaign, I had to learn that my actions –good and bad- reflect upon my candidate. The same goes for those most closely aligned with leaders in the political realm. It’s why endorsements are tricky. But if your glass house is actually Saran Wrap, you shouldn’t throw stones. Because that’s even messier. And perhaps those stones illustrate that you aren’t the best messenger for this particular message. Perhaps some time needs to be spent evaluating the symptoms and causes of ‘the demise of the public servant’. Perhaps you should sit back quietly and graciously knowing that your constituents haven’t yet noticed that you are only carrying the torch of political expediency.

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(Photo WN.com)

Does Sexual Immorality and the Drain on the System Prompt Us to Intervene?

Trending in the news right now is a story of the once young-and-free Nick Olivas who claims that when he was 14, he had an inappropriate affair with a 20 year-old woman. Though the news headlines say, ‘Rape Victim Forced to Pay Child Support’, a real eye-catcher, the story is much more complex.

In 2012, a woman applied for public assistance and noted that Nick Olivas was the father of her 10 year-old daughter. This, of course, led to the State of Arizona ordering he pay child support – current and 10 years in delinquent payments – a total of $15,000, plus money for birth expense reimbursement and 10% interest.  That’s quite a judgment. Especially for a college grad working as a medical assistant.

Reports claim that Mr. Olivas is excited to be a part of his daughter’s life and has no problem paying current child support. His contention is with the back payments when he “didn’t know his daughter existed.”

No doubt that this is a messy, sticky case. While the tag line is great for sensationalizing, the sad reality is this: Each of these cases have their own set of circumstances that change what a reasonable outcome should be. We also can’t base decisions on possible crimes that may have happened. Certainly in this case, with a tangible child, a paternity test, and simple math, we can deduce that Mr. Olivas is, in fact, the father and was not of the age of consent (15, in Arizona) when these events occurred. But Mr. Olivas never pressed charges or even filed a report. So while it is evident that a crime was committed, there is no legal system track record to prove it. 

Every time a case cycles through the system, we set a precedent. In 1993, the Kansas Supreme Court ruled that a 13-year old boy who got his 17-year-old girlfriend pregnant was liable for child support payments even though he was not of the age of consent. In California, the same thing happened with a 15-year-old and a 34-year-old despite the fact that the woman was convicted of statutory rape.

In a changing culture of society – which is clearly having negative impacts on everyone involved- we are now dealing with men who go years completely unaware they have a child and the system eventually catches up with them. By unaware, I mean the mother admits she did not share the information with the father nor did she make a diligent effort to go through the court system to track him down and go through the proper channels.

Age issues aside, this also gets into the weeds of ‘responsible sexual activity’ and what is reasonable responsibility for both parties. Is it on the woman to inform the father immediately? Or just sometime before birth? Or within a year of birth? Should the man be held responsible for ‘not following up’ to see if he impregnated a woman from a one-night-stand? Or do we sit idly and wait for the system to catch up to everyone? Because it will. More often than not, a woman in this situation will be forced onto some type of public assistance and the number of people affected by situation will continue to grow – welfare benefits, the court system to ensure payment, and so on.

Unfortunately, no matter how hard we try, we cannot legislate morality but we our society is nurturing a culture that is sucking the life out of just about every government program we have in place.

Why I’m Not Voting Straight (R) in November

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Wednesday I received a call on behalf of a Republican campaign asking if I was supporting [X] candidate. When I said, no, it got a little …tense. I keep telling people my ballot will be a colorful amalgamation of decisions. Some Red, some 3rd party and a few skips, but never any Blue. Naturally this upset said representative who told me that I can’t always get what I want and taking my ball and going home is wrong. Oh, and, I’m wasting my vote. A wonderful example of voter outreach and engagement.

Let me tell you why this isn’t working, especially with millennials. You see, Democrats are out in the community telling people what they will do for the community, the state, the country, and we’re over here doing the ‘NO WAY Macarena ‘on the Highway to Hell. Our talking points are:

  • ‘Jason Carter is bad for Georgia’
  • ‘Michelle Nunn has ties to Obama’
  • And my personal favorite, ‘John Barrow used tax dollars to pay for his campaign Facebook page’.

No kidding. They’re liberals. OF COURSE these rhetoric lines are applicable. This shouldn’t be surprising information to anyone. But those aren’t convincing reasons to go vote. Those are just reasons to not do anything on Election Day because Republicans aren’t saying why their candidate is ‘the best’. It seems like all we’ve seen lately are hit pieces on consultants that aren’t on the payroll and a push for Senate Majority. We get it. Those are valid points but we need more substance.  We may not agree with the fact that Democrats are out talking about what voters will get out of voting (D) but at least they’re offering something tangible. We have things to offer too, like limited government, lower taxes and economic freedom.

Also, this “straight slate” thing isn’t working for a lot of people. No Republican can honestly tell me that Perdue and Deal (and everyone from CD-1 to Insurance Commissioner) is exactly the same ‘type’ of Republican and believes all of the same things and therefore, they all deserve the exact same support. Puh-leeze.
There’s a reason that every restaurant doesn’t have a price fix menu. People like choices. Choose an entrée and then the sides you like based on flavor and calories. Even Panera Bread gives you the option of chips, fruit, or bread.

Right now, it doesn’t matter who I’m not voting for in November. What matters is the ‘why’.  With 60 days to go, the GOP has got to offer some answers, some hardline reasons.  The reality is this: On a national level, Republicans have hurt many people too, especially in the eyes of the skeptical millennials and Independents – you know, those folks you’ll need should there be a runoff, and definitely by 2016. And the non-politico types don’t always separate federal and state-level folks (hence the reason we are, rightfully, hammering Obama/Pelosi/Reid ties). People have been burned. It’s no longer acceptable to say ‘If you’re not with us, you’re against us’. Tell me why. Show me why. Give me tangible evidence. Talk about policy. Stop using tag lines. Paint me a beautiful picture flowing with Liberty. Otherwise, I will have no choice but to paint my colorful amalgamation on my ballot on Election Day.

And if not accepting the one-size-fits-all slate makes me ‘not Republican enough’, then so be it. There’s a laundry list of people behind me thinking the exact same thing.  But that will directly contradict the GOP talking head slogan of ‘We have to side with the folks that agree with 70% of the time and not focus on the 30%’. Does my 70% have a seat at the table?

Stereotypes & Stigmas of Women in Politics: Religious Rants & Pro Life Marches

The media isn’t always wrong. Across the board, both parties are horrible at bringing out the women base, unless of course it’s through hot button issues like birth control and abortion. We often times use men to be the talking heads of these issues (when it should be women – both conservative and liberal) and then keep women in the back row on every other issue. Women bring more value to the conversation than just religious rants and pro-life marches.

It’s no secret: we are really bad at letting women play in the political arena. It’s not specific to the GOP, but we are definitely batting at the amateur level, mainly on an internal level.

So naturally, I’ve compiled a list of how we label our ladies who play ball for the GOP. I won’t name names, because that wouldn’t be appropriate, but I would imagine it won’t be difficult for anyone paying attention to politics on any level to pin point who’s who.

The Woman in the Boxy Jacket: This woman is, generally speaking, very smart, eloquent and well-versed on the issues but they’ve been forced into a boxy jacket because men are intimidated by them. The boxy jacket represents a strong personality that can match up against anyone without question, but we quickly label her
as ‘wicked’ and ‘ferocious’. This woman can’t be direct without being called ‘unstable’ and can’t call out a wrong without being ‘bitter’. We don’t support her publicly but then wonder why she can’t get elected.

The Attractive & Spunky Politico
This woman is usually vibrant and cheery both in personality and physical features, but her upward mobility is limited because men in politics have reservations about hiring her for fear of rumors of sexual impropriety. The majority of her accomplishments will likely also be tainted by the same stigma. If she would just pipe down and put on a boxy jacket, she could get somewhere. Or that’s what we tell her. We like her, but she’s dangerous.

The Quiet Frumpy Girl Who Doesn’t Have A Lot To Say
This girl will get offered all the jobs but she’ll lack the zeal because she’s too malleable. We can tell her who to support and what issues to champion, but it isn’t pure. She won’t be able to match up head to head with a liberal or recruit folks to the party because she doesn’t know why she’s doing it. For some reason, these are the people we put on our front lines.

The Judgmental Old Lady With 8 Pins on Her Tweed Jacket.
This lady knows everything. She’s been around long enough to watch the cycles of every election since FDR but that’s not enough. She knows what we had and what we need, but she’s just a little off her rocker. Bless her heart, she’s lost it a little in her old age. We still let her hang around, begrudgingly.

The Work Horse Soccer Mom. This woman is invaluable to any party in which she participates, and while that value will be acknowledged, it will stop there. There’s not much time for an opinion or feedback. Just stuff the envelopes and make those calls, please. We’ve got the rest handled.

You see, we’re hurting our own. This fight will never be about feminism, as the left would like to claim, so please don’t be mistaken. But we squash the ones that can be successful in helping our brand- and judging by the stereotype list- that’s A LOT of them. This is about the boxes we lock women into in the political realm. We’re all guilty of being judgmental, but the perpetuation of the rumors, stigmas and  stereotypes is breaking our brand.

I’ve always said, politics or not, women are the harshest critics of other women. But at some point, both men AND women have to draw the line in the sand for when we stop stereotyping and start recognizing the value of the individual. After all, that is what we stand for – the individual. This isn’t just affecting the ‘image’ of our party or causing tension among activists. It bleeds into elections and engagement and outreach. It stunts growth and it halts volunteers. It affects the involved and the un-involved. It brings our numbers to a screeching halt.