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.

So I Voted on Saturday…

LibertyVotingPants

Let’s first establish a few foundations before we get started:

  • I don’t take any of my voting responsibilities lightly. While my U.S. Senate vote was decided early this summer, I mulled over the Governor’s race for quite some time. So much so, that I stood in front of the ballot box for a solid 10 minutes before pressing the button. The decision did not come easily.
  • The fun and excitement over the chance to influence your government is nonexistent and exercising your vote is less than exhilarating. This election cycle has been atrocious. My hope for insiders is dwindling.
  • I don’t believe anyone deserves a vote. You either earn it or you don’t.
  • As a voter, I’m a hard sell. The ‘straight R thing‘, as we know, doesn’t butter my biscuit and neither does the rhetoric of ‘It’s the most important election of our lifetime’. The rhetoric just makes me dig my feet deeper in the mud to oppose what you’re saying. I’m still open-minded enough to be convinced, but I need solid reasons. Paint me something pretty.

So, with that…

U.S. Senate
I voted for Amanda Swafford. Let me offer a little ‘why’ context since this has easily been the bane of my existence in the GOP this cycle. I  couldn’t hold my nose to vote for Perdue because ‘we need control of the Senate’. Should he lose (though I don’t believe he will), feel free to blame me, shame me, or kick me out…but his complacency with Dodd-Frank and his belief that the Second Amendment has exceptions were both deterrents for me. (While I understand he will likely never address ‘campus carry’ in office, a principled conservative would never make such statements. And I fear for what is beyond that statement) I’ve also not seen him address what he believes the role of a U.S. Senator to be or the effect of the repeal of the 17th Amendment. Amanda Swafford proven to me that she has a better understanding of these things, and that is why she earned my vote. It was not a wasted vote.
(I tried really hard to not put Perdue down while lifting Swafford up, but it was difficult. His team and his supporters with their shaming people for thinking differently played a huge role in my abandonment of the ship. They never tried to win me over, only shut me up. And also “Because not Michelle Nunn, therefore Perdue” has never been an acceptable reason for me.)

Governor of Georgia
Nathan Deal
I know, you’re all shocked that I have the ‘mental capacity to think critically‘ about the role of this office and the repercussions of a Republican not holding it. (I would like to make it perfectly clear that my reason for voting for Deal has nothing to do with the reasons Rep. Coomer offered and if there was ever a deterrent to steer anyone from Deal, it was that dismal interaction.) I would also like to say that I still believe our legislature would be much more conservative if we had a democrat governor, despite the fact that I don’t want a democrat governor. I have, though, seen first-hand that the Governor can be open-minded with the right amount of pressure coming from the right places on legislation. I don’t buy into the attacks from the democrats simply because one man cannot fix everything – similar to Obama not being responsible for everything. I do believe – ethics aside- Georgia is a great place to build a business and raise a family. Deal can’t fix it all nor is he the cause of it all.
Additionally, the rest of our state isn’t solid enough to host a Dem Governor. I do want to see legislation signed into law, so Jason Carter was never an option for me. Recently, Andrew Hunt made a few teensy-bit-too-progressive statements for my small L leanings, however, I support his initiative as a 3rd party candidate and am thankful for his purpose this cycle. I also still hope a large percentage of people vote for him.

Lieutenant Governor
SKIP.
His relationship with the Board of Regents, among other things, makes it impossible to support Casey Cagle. And I won’t if he runs for Governor. Write that down.
(I actually wrote in Delvis Dutton. Something about LG office reform legislation.)

Secretary of State
I did cast a vote for Brian Kemp because I can’t imagine the atrocities of a liberal Secretary of State. I also don’t think he’s done a horrible job with his budget. I am hopeful for a working website and smaller photos in a second term.

Attorney General
While Sam Olens hasn’t exactly been kind to me, my friends in the political realm tell me he is incredibly responsive and I respect the battles he has chosen to fight on behalf of our state. I know he has a tough job considering synchronization between his office and the legislature is virtually non-existent. He has done a good job on the battlefield.

Commissioner of Agriculture
SKIP.
Between the battle against Glennville farmer Delbert Bland and his Liberty onion war and the whole bout bringing corporate farmers to the raw milk hearings during the 2014 session to squash conversation concerning freedom of choice, I found it was best to sit on my hand in this race. (If you would like me to elaborate on some of the food freedom problems, email me.)

Commissioner of Insurance
Ted Metz, a Libertarian. The incumbent, Ralph Hudgens, lost my vote several weeks ago and here’s why. The photo below is from an elevator in my office building taken 10/24/14. You can see that the permit is expired and by several months. I have phoned Mr. Hudgens’ office not once, but twice in the last month – both following the times I was trapped in said elevator. *Twice* I have not received a call back. (I recognize the responsibility on the property but clearly there is a disconnect) Responsiveness is key and it will cost you votes.

hudgens.elevator

State School Superintendent
Richard Woods because I am looking for a candidate who will oppose intervention of the federal government at all stages whether it be guidelines, standards, recommendations or mandates. I also met him in person during the primary and liked what he had to say.

Commissioner of Labor
Finally, a person for whom I was proud to cast a vote. Mark Butler has done nothing but make the Department of Labor more efficient… from labor costs within the office to streamlined electronic processes (which were lacking before)…he deserves a slow clap. He has earned my vote for another 4 years.

Public Service Commissioner 
Doug Everett (R)
Lauren “Bubba” McDonald (R) 
Because, meh.

State Senate District 6
Hunter Hill. He’s doing just fine.

State Representative District 52
Joe Wilkinson, bless his heart, was one of a handful of Republicans who voted against the comprehensive gun bill during the last session, and while I respect his ability to represent the great city of Sandy Springs all the way from his satellite constituent services office in St. Simons, I just couldn’t vote for him. I left that baby blank.

Proposed Constitutional Amendments

A-  To prohibit an increase in the state income tax in effect January 1, 2015 (Senate Resolution 415)
Yes. Obviously.

B- Adding reckless driving penalties or fees to the brain and spinal injury trust fund (House Resolution 1183)
No. I don’t support imposing more fees so they may be added to another fund. If you read the resolution, you’ll see that this language is a tad, and by a ‘tad’ I mean ‘wildly’, misleading.

C- Allows property owned by the University System of Georgia and operated by providers of student housing and other facilities to remain exempt from taxation.
No.  — I don’t like “other facilities” because it is not specific enough and equally, I am rather tired of the USG and their special privileges while everyone else is taxed into oblivion. It may impact tuition, but enough is enough.

I want this cycle to be over so bad I can’t stand it. I’m tired of everyone arguing over candidates and I’m ready to go back to just disliking people for who they are, not their politics.

It would be accurate to say that I probably lost a little bit of my soul on Saturday. But not showing up to the polls is not protest, it is surrender. And I will never do that.

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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.