I Flip-Flopped on the Death Penalty

I used to be a zealous advocate for the death penalty. An eye for an eye! Justice must be served! But in recent years I’ve teetered on the fence of unsurity. After covering some death penalty cases for various news sources, I hereby rescind my advocacy for said punishment.

My opposition doesn’t come from the idea that you can’t be ‘pro-life’ and ‘pro-death penalty.’ (You can do whatever you want and a lot of people are both.) Nor is it about the ‘humanity’ of it. And I certainly don’t care what ‘other countries’ or the UN have to say about it. It really isn’t even about the mental health component, because, while I find the idea of the State determining what mental capacity is acceptable for various punishments, fixing that wouldn’t really fix the overarching problem:cHOP

The fact that we cannot serve justice in a broken legal system and that the lies they tell you about saving money when someone is put to death are false.

It doesn’t take much more than a traffic ticket to reveal the real flaws of our legal system. Even for those crimes not on the list of ‘punishable by death’ show us often a sentence that has been overturned, or a case thrown out because of ‘new evidence,’ or an oversight during an investigation. Sure, it’s the big cases that hit the news circuits where a man is freed from prison after serving some 36 years…wrongfully. Is 29 years “better” than 36? We know it happens more than we would like to admit. We feel bad for the victim of a wrongful conviction but then carry on and go back to soccer practice and Facebook. It’s almost as if society is afraid to acknowledge its flaws. ::gasp::

Statistics show the following:

  • 144 people on death row have been exonerated since 1973 when the death penalty was reinstated. (Here is the list)
  • We know of at least 10 cases where someone was wrongfully executed.
  • It costs $90,000 more PER YEAR to house a death row prisoner, compared to ‘general confinement.’
  • Forbes points out that it can be 10x more expensive to kill an inmate than to keep them alive and attorneys on both sides spend roughly 44x more time on death penalty appeal cases than life sentence appeal cases.
  • Because of the lengthy appeals process that can take decades to settle, states can spend upward of $184 million PER YEAR in death penalty appeals cases.
  • The Idaho legislative Capital Punishment study committee put together a lovely report on the actual costs.

A Georgia man was recently executed because he shot a Laurens County Sheriff’s deputy 9 times and it was recorded on a dash cam. The defendant didn’t deny doing so either. This is certainly a ‘slam dunk,’ if you will, but at what cost? At the cost of potentially taking the life of a man or woman who was not guilty.  And a VERY high cost when we aren’t always ‘sure.’ 144 people on death row wrongfully in 42 years doesn’t seem like that high of a number. Unfortunately 1 is far too many.

So I suppose I am unsure if I am actually against the death penalty, but under our flawed legal system, I simply cannot support it.

An Open Letter to the GA GOP & “the Liberty People”

The convention cycle is upon us and the shenanigans are already brewing. It’s prompted me to reevaluate our relationship and figure out who I want to take to the prom.

And I’ve decided neither. You’re both awful and we need a little time apart.

Not because I’m not conservative enough, though you both certainly like to paint that image. It’s mostly because you should treat others how you would like to be treated, and I don’t care to reciprocate how I, like many others, have been treated.

To you, down in front, the GA GOP. Perhaps it was the constant shaming for opinions from your HQ office during the 2014 midterm elections or the requests by party officers to “not say something like that” on social media. Or perhaps it was an open allegiance to a particular infightingcandidate during the primary season that affected an entire race. Or maybe the issue that a paid contractor for the party leaked information to the press to tarnish a Republican primary candidate…and still managed to stay on payroll with the GOP. Or maybe the post-election “pat on the back” email circulated essentially trashing our Lieutenant Governor, who is by no means perfect, but undeserving of a public attack because of a personal vendetta. All without any recourse or even concern.

Perhaps it’s the convenient oversight of your Chairman at every event over the last year and a half. Though it’s probably more about your lack of tolerance and the harsh reality that no one in your camp looks like me – or people who behave like me. But have you asked anyone what people really think of you? You’re out of touch with the people.

And you. You Liberty People. Why are you SO angry?! Why are you slamming the door in the faces of people who believe in you? Elected officials who want to champion your causes but aren’t the same kind of purists? Why are you angry about GOP interest groups when here in Georgia, some of the aggressiveness of Liberty groups like Campaign for Liberty, Georgia Taxpayers United and Georgia Gun Owners has yanked away any opportunity for us to sit at the table? No one even listens because our messengers are equally as awful as Romney or Jeb or anything else you hate in the ‘establishment’ GOP. Why haven’t you learned from your mistakes? Why have you not tweaked a plan that appears to not be working? Also could you start showing up at things other than the convention. Perpetuating your own stereotype is only hurting the cause.
And if one more of you tells me I’m not confrontational enough…
But have you asked anyone what people really think of you? You’re out of touch with the process.

It’s amazing that y’all don’t get along because you’re just alike. So for now, I’ll take my shovel and bucket and dig my own holes with a few that feel the same way. We’re just not that into you anymore. I know plenty of people who are looking for a real movement. Something that is not only effective but also solution-based. Not hateful. Inclusive. Something that is sustainable. Something that will win in the next election cycle.

Sell out and merge together or never surrender and split apart, but stay well. 2015 and 2016 are sure to be a bumpy ride.

 

 

Local Police Departments Hosting Scanner Info Indefinitely?

License Plate Scanner

A point of contention for the law enforcement community for some time has been public dissent over the use of police license plate scanners. While the scanners are costly to departments, the real point of contention has surrounded when the data is collected, where it is stored, and for how long. This is a growing issue considering 71% of police agencies now use the scanners (increasing to 85% over the next 5 years) with success rates of ‘identifying’ crime as low as 0.005%- 0.0017%.

These cameras take upwards of 100 photos per minute without the use of human oversight. Local and county police departments as well as sheriff’s departments collect and store driver information anywhere from 30 days to a year, while some departments never purge the data. Essentially, individual police forces are establishing a database for millions of drivers, the majority of whom have never even committed a crime.

With the constant headlines around the issue, statistics have consistently shown that many law enforcement agencies have no policy for erasing the data and even overlapping departments have conflicting protocols. In Minnesota, the information collected is erased within 48 hours whereas California has no policy is in place to outline guidelines for purging information collected via license plate scanners.

Organizations such as the ACLU and national leaders like Rand Paul have long opposed the collection, and now storage, of this information without cause which helped halt a national database that was proposed by the Department of Homeland Security earlier this year and led the push for New Hampshire to ban the cameras all together.

Now, it looks like the initiative is coming to Georgia. Enter Representative John Pezold (R-Columbus). Representative Pezold is drafting legislation which will require that all departments -local, county and Sheriff – delete stored license plate numbers and information within 30 days of collection. The legislation would also prohibit any Georgia agency, other law enforcement agency, or federal agency from obtaining, viewing, or transferring the information without a warrant or cause, barring interstate or multi-agency issues.

Opponents of the legislation will likely offer a two-pronged argument:

  1. Setting a state standard circumvents local control. Perhaps, in a sense, but we are talking about privacy concerns of civilians that are currently protected at the varying discretion of elected and appointed officials.
  2. 30 days is too long.

If you support the use of license plate scanners, this will likely mean nothing to you. If you would like all license plate scanners in the state of Georgia banned, this legislation will not satiate your concerns, but it will impose restraints on the system under which we are currently operating.

Do More Than Exist

NY resolution

“You keep waiting for the moral of your life to become obvious, but it never does. Work, work, work: No moral. No plot. No eureka! Just production schedules and days. You might as well be living inside a photocopier.” That’s what Douglas Coupland said in Player One: What is to Become of Us.

And he’s right. 2015 is upon us and here we are again, looking for the best way to make ourselves and our lives better. The majority of our New Years “Resolutions”  cover the realm of weight loss and healthy eating, saving a little more money, calling home a little more often or maybe even a better balance of work and play -however those scales may be tipped. The little things we make big things that we are sure will ensure perfection. Shortly, our Facebook News Feed will be inundated with ‘Tips & Tricks for a Better You.” Sure, there is something great about starting with a fresh slate, a clean calendar that no one has written on, no mistakes yet engraved on the concrete tombstone for 2015. How refreshing! I would be lying if I said I hadn’t succumbed to the excitement as well.

I’ve had no qualms about sharing my own personal journey in discovering myself, particularly in the last year, which has been about as smooth as trying to chew rocks. Between the unknowns and the ‘oops, I shouldn’t have done that” moments, I’m well equipped to write a book on how NOT to do just about everything. (But we all are, and I like that.) Earlier this month, I left an excellent-paying job, with benefits! where I was making more than what’s adequate for someone my age. I left without a plan (seems to be a life trend lately) because I wasn’t fulfilled. I was just ‘there.’ And I knew that change wasn’t going to knock unless I brought change to the door. So, when the knock at the door came, I opened it and left. (I sort of left through a window, but that’s a different story for a different day.)

So, what does this have to do with the New Year? Nothing, really. I mentioned the story about quitting my job above because it made me realize I would rather ‘still be looking’ for my purpose than spend my days doing something I know isn’t my passion. Because I was sick of my own excuses as to why I couldn’t do what I really wanted to do. Because I could sit in a glass office all day watching the world go by knowing that other people are doing their own version of what is ‘good’ and I was just a factory of one liners about ‘not the right time’, ‘not the right finances’, ‘not the right people’.

But nothing ever comes at the right time. And if it did, would you know it?

When evaluating how you’re going to do better this year, the weight loss benchmarks and the healthy eating shenanigans are all impossible good goals, but that isn’t what life is about. Life isn’t all about your occupation and neither is this blog. You could say this about who you’re dating, or loving, or your hobbies, or lack thereof, or the example you’re showcasing for your children. Because every day is a clean slate and you can start over whenever you want. You can change directions when you don’t like the scenery. You can shift gears when rocks are jumbled in the engine. Or something. There are no excuses. So why wouldn’t you? Why wouldn’t you plan to change the world a little bit every day? Why wouldn’t your plan be utopian? Seems like anything short of that that you actually attain would be pretty satisfying.

Ask yourself what your purpose is for today. Why are you here? How are you going to make a difference? What have you been fearing, yet yearning to do? Will you do more than just exist this year? Will you do more than exist for the day? Or is it just another photocopy?

“The purpose of life is a life with a purpose, so I’d rather die for a cause than live a life that is worthless.” – Immortal Technique

Ballot Access Legislation Coming in 2015?

Over the course of the last election cycle, I spent a lot time complaining about the need for ballot access reform. Georgia is currently rated 50th (that’s worst, for those of you playing at home) in the nation for ballot access for third-party candidates, or “independents” since our state only “recognizes” two political parties under election law. “Rogue candidates.” The rebels without a cause. What it means to be recognized as a political party is also defined by state law.

Georgia currently requires these candidates to obtain signatures from 5% of prospective voters. If you’re running for Congress, that’s about 18,000 signatures – and no third-party has been on a general election Congressional ticket since 1943. Whether you’re running for county commission or Governor, you have 180 days to collect the signatures and then turn them in accordance with the qualifying period outlined specifically for independent candidates. This mess unfolded publicly for both Jeff Amason in House District 21(who obtained far more than 5%) and  candidates like Bill Bozarth in Atlanta during the last general election. There is no doubt the process is a bureaucratic, unequal mess.

And we’ve sort of tried. During the 2011-12 legislation session, Secretary of State Brian Kemp recommended by way of Rep. Mark Hamilton and HB 949, along with many other ballot access reform initiatives, a reduced number of signatures required for third-party candidates. Not perfect, but a step in the right direction. The legislature denied this and passed almost every other ballot reform measure in HB 899.

ballot access

Support for fewer barriers to entry goes back further than that, though. A similar bill was introduced by the late Rep. Bobby Franklin and, wait for it,…David Ralston, pre-speakership days. In fact, Ralston was the first signer on HB 927 in the 2005-2006 legislative session. The bill, which is worded in so many ways that I adore, states the following:

BA_section2

Consistent petition standards for all public offices. What a novel thought. The legislation reduced the number of signatures required to 2% of voters based on numbers from the last election. While this legislation is contradictory in and of itself, seeing as though ‘consistent’ would imply that everyone, even “Republicans” and “Democrats” are subjected to the same rules, the mere introduction of the legislation indicates that we have a problem. In September, 58% of Americans favored third parties. It’s time to stop ignoring this issue.

Whether legislation should eliminate signatures for an ‘unrecognized’ party, or we stop using parties on the ballot (Georgia Washington didn’t like them!), or we start messing around with the qualifying fees as a barrier to entry is still up for debate. One thing is for sure: no candidate should have to sue the state to be on the ballot. That’s not a government run by The People and Georgia needs to do better. Perhaps we can shoot for 49th. Regardless of whether you will ever vote for a third-party or not, the inequity based on political affiliation is resounding.

What legislation will actually look like if it comes about in the upcoming session -if it even does- is still to be determined. Rumor has it that legislation will indeed be introduced, perhaps by Rep. John Pezold (R-Columbus). But you know what they say about rumors: Only good ones are spiced with truth.

Gurley legislation is for whiners and tax collectors

As someone who doesn’t keep up with football, who doesn’t like grandstanding, and who believes in a very limited government, you can imagine my despair for the pre-filed HB 3 by Representative Barry Fleming (R-121), “Education; programs; person solicit transaction with student-athlete; provide sanctions”

Aside from the riveting title, the bill is just bad news. HB 3…

Todd Gurley

…and then the jersey number. It’s no coincidence.

The bill summary says: “To amend Part 14 of Article 6 of Chapter 2 of Title 20 of the Official Code of Georgia Annotated (which you can find here), relating to other educational programs, so as to provide sanctions for persons that enter into or solicit a transaction with a student-athlete that would result in sanctions to the student-athlete; to provide for related matters; to provide for an effective date; to repeal conflicting laws; and for other purposes.”

Though I went to UGA for graduate school, I don’t have a “team” or a vested interest in this argument. If you do, I hope you can set them aside in considering what this legislation is actually doing. Let’s consider the following:

  1. Whether you believe student athletes should be able to collect salaries, funds, fees or kickbacks is not relevant here. The legislation strictly pertains to would-be ‘offenders’ who solicit student athletes. The rest isn’t under consideration.
  2. The bill calls for sanctions on the person who attempts to or enters into a contract/transaction with a student athlete for a purpose that would likely (love the wording) suspend eligibility for performance, participation, or scholarships. Sure, the student athlete would still risk school and NCAA punishment, but we are talking about the legal system. Laws are supposed to be equitable and just. Essentially, the legislation would make one party of the contract more culpable than the other even though both parties are freely and voluntarily engaging in this behavior. We don’t need to enact legislation to tip the justice scales when we have consenting adults. Organizational sanctions are sufficient if this behavior is to be discouraged.
  3. The legislation effectively makes entering a contract punishable under the law (and with a $25,000 sanction and a felony on your record, no less). Something that is otherwise legal with any other human over the age of 18 in Georgia. I have looked for precedent and justification or even something remotely similar under Georgia law, but I haven’t been able to find anything. There is a lack of “legal need” for this bill. This won’t make us safer and it isn’t protecting anyone…if that’s your logic behind government as a whole.
  4. Government is reactive. Sometimes too reactive. It seems as though we try to win hearts and then influence people because the premise of a bill may not be good. If this wasn’t Georgia and our state wasn’t swarming with UGA fans, this probably wouldn’t have come about. If it weren’t for the outrage over the season’s ups and downs with Todd Gurley, we may not be having this conversation.

A lot of times we hear people telling us to take the person out of the politics and they’re referencing the sponsor of legislation, but I’m not exactly a fan of the heart strings bills that use poster children to disguise expanded government. Pre-filed bills are often shells, too, which will be amended later, but this one is bad in premise and I hope our legislators – and football fans -are able to see that.

Context.

I think one of the most enjoyable, and every now and again unsatisfying, things about writing is watching yourself evolve. The internet never goes away so every last thought is somewhere, floating. As a blogger, you grow and in politics you evolve, too. Or shrink, or die.

But evolution is slow and happens over time. If it isn’t slow, it’s just inconsistency. Sometimes inconsistency can be espoused by the carrier of legislation, by someone else supporting it, or a personal reason that’s changed your perspective. Sometimes things just bring about emotion in us. Context.

I offer an example.I saw this photo on the internet about a week ago.

politic

When I saw it, it was tied to an “opt-in truth-in-labeling” group about food product transparency. It had no words of commentary, just the photo. I thought to myself, “I like that! And heck yes I agree!!” ::air fist bump:: I took a screenshot and went about my merry way.

Last night, I was scrolling the ‘Ferguson’ hashtag and saw the same image. It irritated me. I took a screenshot again- not knowing it was the same thing- but I thought in my head “What IS this? We don’t know what exactly happened. People are acting ridiculous” and I actually said aloud, “We will never really know.” Again with no commentary, just the photo. Set my phone down and that was that.

Later last night, I noticed a double in photos on my phone. I remembered that the exact same photo, both without additional commentary other than a hashtag identifying the topic, brought about entirely different perspectives about the same words. ONE word of context.

In politics, context is everything. I don’t like grey area but it all falls in there. There is no black and white. In fact, without context, politics is nothing. Nonexistent. Just a bunch of angry, opinionated people having breakfast once a month.

Those of us who like to label ourselves as most consistent probably struggle with this the most but have to acknowledge that context is the basis of the process.

What is most terrifying: Our principles can be contextual, too. Consider some of the following:

  • Ethics legislation
    Principle: We MUST have ethics reform. At any cost.
    Context: The legislation was ineffective and messy. But who votes against ethics? Only a fool, right? Unless, of course, the legislation is poorly written and a baseless campaign stunt to say, “Look what I did!” But who votes against ethics?
  • The Marketplace Fairness Act (or E-Fairness)
    Principle: I’ll never vote for a tax increase.
    Context:  It’s a tax increase. And without said tax increase, you’re technically allowing some businesses to operate in a different tax bracket. Small , local businesses can suffer with the additional burden others don’t – especially in more rural counties. Sure, the movement should be to zero and not upward, but if we can’t have it our way, should it at least be just?
  • Or a bill that allows cross-county warrants for wiretapping. Said legislation is an expansion of the police state and hovers over that line of our 4th amendment rights.
    Principle: I’m against any/further infringements on the 4th Amendment.
    Context:  It’s actually a bill that returns the control to local departments. This allows local agencies to operate, not just the huge statewide organizations, over their jurisdiction which can double up (often in metro ATL). The wiretap warrants are already allowable under law, so if THAT won’t be repealed, what’s the next option? Local or large force?

**not advocating for or against any of the above, simply recognizing the different light that context sheds on various things. I repeat, no advocating.

  • Farm subsidies
    Principles: I am against subsidies in any capacity
    Context: Our agricultural system is so broken and the government has such a choke hold over the entire industry that farmers cannot survive without being submissive. Unless the system is completely overhauled, without subsidies, nothing will be locally grown.
    ^^Actually advocating there

These are just a few examples and the list goes on.  It’s also true that (more than likely) context is used to deceive us. Using the death of a child to expand the reach of government and regulate businesses or the use of fear of your church becoming a war zone with “guns everywhere” generalizations is wildly inappropriate, too. Context to tug on those heart-strings and make you feel like government will put a big ‘ol Band-Aid over the hearts of those grieving mothers or protect you from the dangerous drivers of Uber only exacerbates the distrust in government. Using the love of a certain football player to sanction, fine, and criminalize something that is legal in the real world reminds us that people often times can’t see past the end zone.

It’s not often that government has good intentions. They rush. They mess up. A lot. But I think it’s important to recognize not only the legislation and repercussions during analysis but also the intent. WHY is this proposed? WHO is it benefiting? From WHERE did it arise? WHY does this legislation need context at all?

We are just as ineffective as some of those who represent us if we don’t remember context. This is a reminder to myself as much as it is to everyone else. We shouldn’t consider anything at face value… regardless of the source. Because even sources have context.

Why Not Honesty?

As we head into another legislative session, everyone is getting their ‘game face’ on, and by ‘game face’ I mean ‘fake face.’ They’re stretching their arms for those ever-so-delicate handshakes, you know the ones I’m talking about…where you grasp one hand and embrace the elbow of the opposite person with the other hand. The phony smiles and the awkward photo ops. All of it is upon us.

But I can’t stand it. It’s something I struggle with significantly in politics. The schmoozing and the deceit. Part of it is my inability to filter thoughts before they exit my mouth and part of it stems from my idealistic nature, but I find the schmoozing to be dishonest and deceptive.  I recognize that you can’t just go barreling through every GOP meeting and Facebook argument letting every single person know how much you truly dislike them – or more likely, something they are doing, (and certainly not everyone needs to be Coomered,) but at what point is the cordiality detrimental to the process?

At political events, I like standing in the back of the room watching people interact. You’ll see someone hug it out, smile and exchange conversation about the wonderfulness of each other and both will walk away rolling their eyes only to do the same thing to the next person. Yet both think there is a mutual friendship. Based on what?

People in politics are mean and we know this. We often times treat each other terribly for no good reason. Pre-conceived notions, looks, newness, affiliations and friends, or sometimes ‘just because’ all determine how people are harshly judged in politics. We’re all guilty of it because it’s part of the game, right? But friendships have no foundation and everyone is shocked when both the relationships and the process crumble.

My problem is that The Game is exhausting. The Game has come to the point of stagnation and because of The Game, you can’t defeat that awful legislator with deep pockets because even his greatest enemies funnel money to the campaign war chest (mind blown – by the way) and The Game is why folks are blindsided on Election Day or at conventions because ‘everyone said they would vote for me.’

The game also dictated the point at which it became socially unacceptable to politely, to their face, tell an elected official that you don’t like their vote or their legislation. Most level-headed people understand that telling them so doesn’t mean they have to change how they think, but we don’t even talk about talking about it because this talking is not allowed. The Game is truly why we cannot have nice things.

Internet articles and blogs have certainly changed things and there are some elected officials- party and political- who welcome dissent because they believe it makes them better, but most in the process hate any dissent and consider it a grave threat. They’re forgetting every coin has two sides.

I admit every day that my idealism gets me in trouble more than some might think and I am mostly proud of that. I’ve always said it’s my starting point because when we start in the middle, we all lose. But I also expect better because I’ve seen it in action. I know it seems I sometimes harp on what seems to be ‘the obvious’ but when someone is not pointing out ‘the obvious’, everyone is just standing around pretending ‘the obvious’ isn’t there, twiddling their fingers, continually taking the long, twisted path to exit the maze when there is a direct route.

People in politics – and even those not in politics – understand that no politician or activist is the same. Voters are not the same. People think differently and it’s the compromising ‘middle ground’ part that’s hard. In a debate yesterday, someone told me, ‘Well, that’s the best we are going to get.’ I’m not stupid. I know that, but it doesn’t mean I have to like it. It doesn’t mean I have to enjoy lukewarm day-old oatmeal with no cinnamon. So I’m going to keep asking for better tasting oatmeal so people don’t get accustomed to serving the Wal-Mart brand. (The Wal-Mart brand being the dishonest “gaming” brand, if I lost you in that analogy.)

Tell me: What’s more respectable than honesty? What’s more valuable than knowing where you stand with someone?  What’s more freeing than clearing the air with someone with whom you have tension? What’s more honorable than having the guts to tell someone directly why AND how you think?

Perhaps if we offered a little more honesty, we would see a little more honesty out of the process.

Yay?

I wanted to send this blog out via e-mail five times over but all the e-mail boxes across America are still in recovery mode. I do think after all my banging and shouting this cycle that I should at least offer a closing argument and wrap up with some consistency of saying things the GOP doesn’t want to hear.

As a whole and across the nation, the night for the GOP was a Win. But of course, for me that isn’t enough. I want to know what that means. I always say that elections are like break-ups. They end abruptly without closure and without answers that aren’t numerical. What I do think we reinforced this cycle is that we have pushed our political system to the brink so much so that if you can’t make people salivate over you or beat you with a stick, you have no place in the political game.

Let’s start local: Love him or hate him, Governor Deal had a record, a friendly legislature with complimentary policies to boost him, and he won on his own merit. We will now move on from that point.

As for the Senate seat and our new (R) Congressional seat, I am still perplexed. We didn’t like our candidates and we weren’t quiet about it. We relentlessly said ‘He wasn’t the first pick, but he’ll do’. They are basically the same (and even look alike) but they are ‘what we ended up with’. I took a lot of grief for wondering why this was okay, but when the polls closed yesterday, my phone was a-ringin’ from Party members and ELECTED GOP members to tell me that they too didn’t cast a vote for Perdue (or Allen in GA-12). But it doesn’t matter. The candidates never really cared about the folks who didn’t support them and they sure as heck don’t care now. I think a lot of people are simply left wondering why we keep selling ourselves so short.

The GA GOP had an excellent ground game. No doubt Republicans outworked the Democrats with phone calls, grassroots and even social media. But after the parties died down last night, I questioned three gentleman on what the GOP message was. All I got were blank stares.

The contentious Senate seat and the new Congressional in GA-12 don’t explain much either. Rick Allen ran for 4 years and spent $1.1 million in personal monies while Perdue campaigned as an “Outsider” and funneled millions of his own money into a campaign that after 18 months, we still don’t know what it represents. What does it mean to be an Outsider politically? Ideologically? What does being an Outsider have to do with being a Republican? Did we really win or did our races just fall victim to the political climate and yet another Red wave instigated by an anti-incumbent pretty-much-fed-up electorate? What was our message?

Was it ‘Keep Georgia Red’? ‘Take Back the Senate?’ ‘Fire Harry Reid?’ ‘Nunn on the Run?’ Running against Obama and his lackluster administration, term and just about everything else he touches? This new representation doesn’t espouse Republicanism. I will give both credit for not focusing on social issues too much (because I do support that) but what made them Republican? Some made a joke that all you had to do was be a breathing Republican this year to win. I don’t think that’s too far off base. How did we decide that they are the champions for the conservative message? Is simply opposing Obama and Obamacare the end-all-be-all to being Republican in Georgia now?  We didn’t elect a bunch of new folks to lead on the National stage for our party brand. So what did we really do? What did this climate provide us?

I do believe that as a Party and a nation, we are so desperate for something different. Everyone in their right mind will acknowledge that we are so broken, but they are still unwilling to leave the warm seat at the table to stand in front of the crowd to demand a little change.

The problem is that we are already heading into a Presidential cycle and we won’t be running against Barack Obama and the Affordable Care Act in 2016. His policies won’t be on the ballot and we will likely face a woman candidate. So these things can’t be our message. We need to do better and we need to be more prepared. That needs to start today.

But for the love of God, in 2016, do not force a straight ticket. I can’t tell you how many volunteers (including myself) avoided ‘Victory Call Centers’ because you had to make calls for all candidates, not just one or a few. Stop it. Please….just stop it.

In the mean time, we should remember that right now, We The People aren’t governing. We’re tolerating and we get the government we deserve.

As for me, my personal purpose was successful. Running interference for Team Wasted Vote wasn’t easy but I never caved on what I believed and I voted true to principles. For me, it was never about winning. I just wanted to make people think and be a little more open-minded. Right, wrong or indifferent, I believe we were able to point out a lot of ‘wrongs’ in our GOP philosophy and practice.  Admitting you have a problem is the first step of recovery and that was my goal.

What Being Republican Means to Me

Since publishing my ballot and reasons, I’ve come under fire *once again* regarding my loyalty to the Republican party. From YR chairmen to GOP county chair leaders, my worthiness (and apparently right to continue to participate) is on the line. I was even chastised for spending ‘too much time’ in the ballot box. Informed and thoughtful voters be damned! Not only that, but my principles have been called into question for committing the ultimate sin and not casting a straight ballot, so… I figured if I characterized Republicanism in my own words, maybe people would have a better understanding.


Republica state in which the supreme power rests in the body of citizens entitled to vote and is exercised by representatives chosen directly or indirectly by them.
Republican(of a form of government, constitution, etc.) belonging to, or characteristic of a republic.
Republicanismthe ideology of governing a society or state as a republic (la. res publica), where the head of state is a representative of the people who hold popular sovereignty rather than the people being subjects of the head of state.


I think we all (would like to think we) have a firm understanding of the political and  policy definition of ‘Republican’, but as far as within the party and the membership card, where do we stand? What does that mean?

Something I noticed since voting is that Libertarians are happy if you vote for one or for all four of their candidates on the ballot. They are truly grateful for even one of your votes, even a consideration, and express a genuine concern for why you didn’t on the others. I have personally experienced this myself. Naturally, it made me wonder when Republicans stopped doing this? When did we garner our own sense of ‘GOP entitlement’ that we deserve votes and don’t have to thank people for them? (Side note, but try to keep this in mind for later.)

If you look to the GAGOP website, it’s cloaked individualism and freedom. In giant letters, the message is resounding. 2 of my 3 favorite words. Maybe 2 of my 5 or 7 favorite…I like words. I digress.

But most importantly, I agree. As a Republican, I do choose freedom. Freedom to expand the party outside of what it has been. Freedom to question, to think, to challenge. Freedom to change my mind, to call out a wrong, to expect better. The freedom to know that I can step away when it’s not fitting just right, but return when it is. The freedom to break the unwritten rules without facing a lifetime of exile. The freedom to select various individuals based on what suits me.

I’ve yet to have a conversation with a politically-unplugged friend of any age who fits into a perfect Republican box. But I tell them to come anyway. To vote where they can and try again next time. Republicanism, to me, means that as a voter, you come as you are and we will take what we can get. Being Republican means accepting those that don’t identify as a Republican voting on our tickets. (No more of that shaming nonsense like in CD-10 runoff.)

I believe the Party stands for limited government, not limited discourse. Limited government because individually, we each know what is best for us – not anyone else in regards to anything: healthcare, taxes, social issues, voting, party affiliation. All of it.

I don’t believe being a Republican means force-feeding a plate of food when I’m allergic to all the ingredients. I believe you can hold your nose under the right circumstances. I understand the concept. I held my nose for Romney and for McCain. The candidates were not my first pick but at the time, I was able to reconcile casting a vote for them. So I did. And I probably will again.

I believe the Republican party has deep roots in strong foundations like Washington, Jefferson,  Locke and Von Mises. I believe that if you value any of those, you have a purpose. (I’d really like to ditch Lincoln, but no one asked me.)

To me, Republicanism isn’t just about government and it doesn’t just ‘happen’ during election cycles. It isn’t about telling people “you’re either with us or against us”. Being a Republican means that my definition doesn’t have to match yours. It is exactly what they keep telling us it is: individual freedom. In every way possible.

Maybe I believe in something that is already gone or maybe something that is only getting started.