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.

Why I Chase Unicorns & Leprechauns

Compromise is a funny thing. In politics, you’re asked to compromise on everything: on candidates, on talking points, and most often, on policy. Everything is a negotiation and everything is a chess move. There’s a method to all of this madness.

We’re forced to compromise because of the apathy and the money it takes to win an election. A government no longer run by the people has left us grasping for anything similar to what we used to know and accepting the bits and pieces of something that is ‘good’. When we consider the welfare state, social programs, the lack of enforcement of immigration laws, the overreach, and the student loan bubble, it leaves us wondering ‘What is left to compromise?

I take a lot of heat for my idealism. A lot. Probably daily someone shames me for it. If someone dislikes me, it is mostly likely due to the fact that they see me as unwilling to move and my willingness to fight you until we’re both blue in the face. (That, or I previously wrote a blog about them. #sorrynotsorry) I had a discussion with someone yesterday about principles and ‘appealing to the masses’. It’s difficult to appeal to everyone when you’re principled. People who are liked by everyone are probably selling out somewhere along the line. It just isn’t possible in life, but especially in politics. But what about appealing to everyone, having principles and somehow implementing it?
I present to you this beautiful chart I crafted on a paper towel:

“Jessica’s Scale of Feasibility”

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I fully recognize that I’m out there dangling on my own (or with a small minority) on A LOT of issues, but utopia and perfection start the conversation on a less complicated platform. Imagine if we began every policy conversation, partisan or not, right in the middle. There’s a reason lawyers aim high in settlement negotiations. There’s a reason Haliegh’s Hope Act (HB 885) should have covered more ground in the initial draft. There’s a reason a comprehensive gun law has all kinds of bells and whistles in it before it gets to a vote. There’s a reason candidates ask for more money than they believe they will obtain. You ask for that $1,000 donation in hopes of getting $500. You don’t ask for $500 because you need $500. You’ll end up with $250 almost every time.

Idealism presents wiggle room for improvement. We should all strive to be idealistic on at least one issue. It keeps the purity. And we have to acknowledge that on one issue –just one- we expect nothing less than perfection from start to finish. We acknowledge that progress isn’t sufficient. The quick-to-bloom rose may smell better but cabbage makes better soup.

In a day when our policy is lacking principle, it’s even more important that we look to people to represent those principles whether in elected office or just in those pesky activists.  That’s where the principle will be restored. So whether you’re consistently principled, or consistently inconsistent, be principled.  Idealistic in principle and practical in application.

“Scratch any cynic and you will find a disappointed idealist.” – George Carlin

13 Things I Learned at 25

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Last year, I didn’t want to be 25. 24 had been so great to me and full of so much wonderfulness, I didn’t want it to end. I am blessed enough to say that this journey we call life has once again been good to me as the clock ticks on to 26.

With the exception of my highlight tint though, life doesn’t look much like it did at 25. We don’t take much time to reflect on changes on a daily basis, but I try to make a point of it at least on a birthday. Each year we grow, we pick up new traits and let others fizzle off…so here are a few of my takeaways from the last year of ‘development’.

13. If you can’t tone it, tan it.
12. You can evade law enforcement with jelly beans. And jokes. Additionally, begging.
11. People aren’t walking around this earth judging each other as much as we think they are. Except babies. They judge everything.
10. South Georgia is undeniably where you will find your Grace.
9. We are torn down by hardships to a rawness so that we can rebuild differently because we are on the wrong path.
8. People can’t read your mind. If you want something, you have to tell them so. If you need help, you have to tell them that too.
7. People will tolerate your hard-headed stubbornness if you’re consistent and principled. They just want to know what to expect.
6. The more you try to mold your life, the more fluid it will become.
5. We are almost never sure about what we do want, but always sure about what we don’t want.
4. Indecision is the worst decision.
3. We continue to grow when we allow ourselves to do so. We can’t resist everything…new opportunities, different kinds of people, different ways of thinking…we will never be right about everything – at least not all at the same time.
2. You can’t let fear control you. You have to leave your comfort zone and go into the unknown with a firm reliance on faith. Often. If it’s both terrifying and wonderful, you should absolutely do it.
1. When you take a leap of faith, you’re forced to trust more in The Lord, in others, and surprisingly, yourself. That’s growth.

“To live is the rarest thing in the world. Most people exist, that is all.” –Oscar Wilde

25

A Case for Food Stamps…

I sometimes read the Huffington Post. Sometimes because I’m bored, sometimes because I love torturing myself with extreme opposition, and sometimes because I’m feeling super open-minded. Today was the latter of the three.

I came across the article ‘This is What It’s Like To Be A Single Mom on Food Stamps‘. If you have a few minutes, I recommend reading it in its entirety. The mother is from a suburb outside of Atlanta and she makes a compelling case for needing help.

I’ll preface noting that my biggest problem with the article, especially with it being featured on Huffington Post, is how it somehow manages to make it seem like this is the norm. Unfortunately, it is not. Putting that aside, I think there is some real value in what the article highlights: that this was the only option at the end of the rope.

This single mother of two details her struggle of a divorce with a financially uninvolved father, medical issues and trying to get a job after being a stay-at-home mom for 13 years in a suffering economy while chronicling the shame and heartbreak over accepting (and then using) state benefits.

I am not an advocate of the food stamp or the WIC programs and I cannot imagine that I ever will be. I would go as far as to say I believe it to be an illegal practice on behalf of the state. But I am an advocate for compassion and solutions. As conservatives, we are consistently framed as wanting to remove social programs (and we do!) but are willing to leave families and children without another option. It makes us look bad and it’s one of the reasons we lose elections. I’m kind of over it.

The non-profit sector was intended to be a third branch, a bridge if you will, between the private sector and the public sector. Nonprofit organizations were originally created to fill the gap where the government could not -or was not legally supposed to- fill in. We have far overstepped that boundary and are looking at years of reform, but why aren’t conservatives looking at specific organizations to which we can direct needy families?

Faith aside, there are lists a mile long of organizations ready, willing and able to offer short and long-term assistance to varying groups of people: young, old, male, female, veterans, those addicted to various substances, those in recovery, those unwilling to work, those unable to work. The list goes on. A quick Google search provides a list of over 37,000 nonprofits JUST IN GEORGIA with over $96,598,629,441.00 in assets. Now, we know that all of those aren’t need-based organizations, but there certainly is no shortage on available ‘help’. What’s more is that again, faith aside, more often than not, these organizations project ideologies of conservatism, individualism and ultimate personal responsibility without being overtly ‘in your face’.

So what gives? Why are we not placing a wedge between the state social programs and the people? I will say that legislating specific organizations into ‘helping’ isn’t the solution. Take MADD for example: The Georgia legislature created a monster out of that organization by mandating their services through the state sentencing programs. But we have to change the direction we are sending these people. We don’t make information readily available and then we wonder why they default to the state. Why aren’t these organizations Step 1 on the HHS websites? Why doesn’t the state first suggest what is now considered the alternative?We, as a state and a people, can connect the needy with the willing organizations. We need to make the alternative the norm. We just need a pathway and discussion to do it.

Change doesn’t happen without conversation. It’s time to tweak the conversation and shift our focus to the real solutions. Otherwise, we are only contributing to the problem and I see our fight as no more than a tug-o-war with the liberals of ‘keep a program v. kill a program’.

This Is Stupid

Today I am mad as hell. Yesterday afternoon I found out that a candidate I voted for accepted money – A LOT OF MONEY- from one of my least favorite organizations. Like, THE WORST. The one that I dislike the most. The Anti-Liberty.

I’m a passionate person invested in politics so naturally my anger came seething from me in the form of clenched fists and brisk walks around the park. I wanted to yell, to stomp my feet and to quit. ‘This is so stupid!’, I thought to myself. ‘Why bother? Just stop paying attention, stop caring! Someone like me can never beat the game of money.’ And it happens all the time.

But I cant do that. Because the political world doesn’t stop- or even slow down- because I don’t like it. It doesn’t pause when I hiccup, or make the wrong choice. It doesn’t ease up when it seems like everyone around me is ‘selling out’ or when I feel like I’m riding a bike through two feet of peanut butter.

Charlie Harper once told me “This is an industry that is thankless, shallow, and soul crushing. It is designed to abuse the idealistic for the benefit of the soulless.” It’s probably the most honest statement anyone in politics has ever told me.

Politics is dirty. It’s filthy. It’s disheartening. People are mean. They lie. They stab you in the back. They say what they have to say and do what they have to do to get elected. They lose sight of why they were ‘doing it’ in the first place. They will be wrong. (You will be wrong!) They will let you down. (I can only think of two elected officials I know with certainty have never disappointed me. 2. Two. Dos.) That’s because everyone has their eye on the prize and rarely do those prizes look identical. And that’s okay.

So the days you want to give up, you absolutely should. You should go home to your family, or friends, or dogs, or a glass bottle of wine. Then, you should remind yourself why you’re doing it because at one point, there was a purity and a focus in you. You should take breaks and recharge, but never feel defeated. The system is the system. It will be broken whether you step up to the plate or not. You can either work within it (and it will run you over sometimes) or quit, but we all suffer every time one person drops out and stops articulating an opinion or fighting their own fight.

It doesn’t matter if you’re so Red, you’re already working on your “Draft Mitt Romney” Facebook page for 2016, or the Libertarian skipping every race on the ballot, or the Blue Dog donating to HillaryPac every day (just kidding- those folks don’t make money!).
The reality is that by playing the game in your own little way, somewhere along the line, while beating The Drum, you’ll change a heart and mind. You’ll lose some and you’ll win some, but you can’t say the same if you quit for good. So do quit. But just for the night.

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Everything You Think About Conservative Millennials Is Wrong

 

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Millennial:
noun

  1. a person reaching young adulthood around the year 2000; a Generation Yer.
    “the industry brims with theories on what makes millennials tick”
Unless you live in the stone age, you probably hear this term daily, but the majority of people associate it with the lazy working class of twenty-somethings who likely have no direction in life and whom also lack respect for anyone who would identify as a baby boomer. Don’t lie. You know that’s how you think of them us. Those kids you don’t want on your lawn.
But they we are an integral part of the political game. As cliché as it sounds, they we are the future and at some point, the baby boomers will have to stop shunning them us. We see the world differently, but somewhere in the mix of labeling and the desire to be right because you’re older, you stopped listening and wrote us off as “not conservative enough”.

Allow me to offer a few examples.

Immigration
Last week, I attended a Peach Pundit Immigration forum where the diverse panel actually included ‘one of us’. Chairman of the Georgia College Republicans, Will Kremer, made a point that resonated with me immensely. “When you talk about immigration reform, and you refer to these people as ‘invaders’, it turns us off. We grew up with these people, we went to school with them.”
It’s true. Right, wrong or indifferent, current protocol puts these children, sometimes anchor babies, in school with us millennials and so we don’t see them or their families as the delinquents society is painting them to be. We see them as humans first. It doesn’t mean we don’t want tighter immigration policy, that we don’t want to secure the border or enforce the laws on the books. Maybe our view could open your mind a little bit when it comes to discussion because we see it differently.

Next, consider gay marriage. I challenge you to find one millennial -liberal, conservative, libertarian or independent who lists gay marriage as their number one issue. I would put money on the fact that it isn’t even in the top 5. You think it’s the demise of our country, we care about our national debt, the student loan crisis and whether or not we will have a job post-college/grad school. We may have our personal views on it, but it’s not what’s driving us to the polls.millennials_and_cause_infographic
Also, we don’t see the over-criminalization of drugs as an abuse of power because we are all a bunch of pot heads. We see it for what it is: a pathway of destroying lives of youthful and first time offenders who will likely never “re-offend.” This has become a taboo talking point. Stop shutting us down as druggie good-for-nothings because we don’t think a marijuana offense should ruin a career path. We just see it differently.
Finally, we don’t really like war. Not because we don’t want the strongest military in the world or we’re any less patriotic, but because as a nation, we choose poorly and you’re going to die and we will have to pay for it. And much to your denial, we are pro-life.

I’m not saying that millennials are right about everything. Most of us know we still have a lot to learn. But our hearts and minds are still open so we see things differently. We grew up differently. We have a different level of compassion and we have different reasons for supporting candidates. We tend to pick issues over party affiliation, but only because you’re alienating us. We aren’t going anywhere, I promise, so we at least deserve a seat at the table.

3 Deaf Mice: Obama, the Court of Appeals & Local Law Enforcement

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In the wake of the Court of Appeals decision which ruled that surveillance on wireless service such as a cell phones and other mobile devices required a warrant, specifically in cases where law enforcement agencies were tracking cell tower pings, there now seems to be even more to the story.

The Obama administration is advising local law enforcement agencies to keep everything on the hush hush regarding their surveillance equipment. Specifically, the administration has asked that details surrounding the functionality of the equipment remain “unknown” to the public. The problem is exacerbated by the fact that the new technology is fairly unknown and with that unknown comes the uncertainty of whether or not it violates some Constitutional rights. (You know, that pesky 4th amendment.)

“These extreme secrecy efforts are in relation to very controversial, local government surveillance practices using highly invasive technology,” said Nathan Freed Wessler, a staff attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union, in a statement to the Associated Press. “If public participation means anything, people should have the facts about what the government is doing to them.” The ACLU is currently fighting for the release of such documents and has spearheaded efforts to put pressure on Congress to rein in unconstitutional surveillance practices.

What many may find even more disturbing is the idea that the producers of such surveillance equipment designed this technology with secrecy clauses in regards to the FEC and have required local agencies to operate the equipment in cooperation with the FBI.

Is your tin foil hat buzzing just a little at this point?!

The FBI states that information cannot be shared because if it were, ‘they’ would no longer be able to “protect” us from terrorism. Yes. They really said that. Some states, such as Florida, have tried to trump the federal silencing through loose open-records laws, however, the U.S. Marshal’s Service confiscated the obtained documents.

So, to sum up…not only do we not know why or where such devices are being used, we don’t even know how the equipment that has been designed secretly and specifically to infringe upon our rights operates. We don’t know how much this equipment costs, we don’t know who all has them nor do we know with whom they are sharing information. And now we have an administration instructing local law enforcement agencies to “keep it that way”.

Are you worried yet?

Grace.

You wouldn’t have to read many articles on this blog or spend much time with me in person to learn I’ve got a feisty, snarky stubbornness in the way I communicate politically. I have my own way of doing things, to say the least. You probably think you know what to expect on this blog a day after an election…but I may surprise you.

The majority of news outlets today will say that it “didn’t go our way”, but I just can’t see it that way. Since the inception of this campaign, it was never leaning “our way”. It was always “not enough time”, “too big of a district”, “too small a staff” (thanks, y’all) and “not enough money”. Too tall a hill, if you will. But the fight was never about that. The fight was about the unique non-political message of our candidate and the ever-turning wheels of the vehicle in which this grand movement is traveling. The messenger of this movement will say otherwise but there is no better example, no better mentor, no better delivery than what we’ve seen through this culture shift. If you followed the campaign even a little, or the legislature for the last 4 years, you know exactly what I’m talking about. A lot of you don’t have a clue what I’m talking about, though, because it’s a quiet, yet effective push to make a difference and do what is right. It’s grace.

I moved to South Georgia on a whim and a prayer just 77 days ago to work in a capacity I didn’t understand, in a town I didn’t know for a cause that is still much larger than myself or anything I will ever be. I put fear, doubt, and everything known to me aside and trusted in the Lord’s plan for my life. It’s the most freeing feeling I’ve ever felt.

I woke up this post-election morning and panicked because it was 7:28am and I feared I would miss my morning 7:30a.m conference call with our team or still have my “morning voice” when I called in. But like the morning after a break-up, it was empty. When it’s abrupt and there’s no closure, we often want to place blame or find a “well, we should have…”,. I can’t find that in my heart. Only Grace.

I still rushed to get to the office because I wanted to be there–Our tiny nook just off what South Georgia calls a “highway”. Even in breaking down the office, I want it to reflect the same heart as the entire campaign. Only Grace.

I’ve never been prouder of a campaign, of a candidate or my own work.
I have nothing negative to say about the entire process, or “The Other Guys”, and I know that that isn’t always a gift we are granted the morning after an election. Only Grace.

The majority of the people in my life will never know the true impact that last 11 weeks have had on my life. I found a quiet confidence in myself, a renewed faith in my neighbors and an appreciation for the simple things. I see everything and everyone differently. My communication skills have been refined and my political ideology, though still unwavering, is more principled. I’ve built relationships with people who have turned my world right-side-up. Only Grace.

The majority of news outlets today will say that it “didn’t go our way”. I cant find one filter to look through that presents the situation in that light. Only Grace.

I can put my campaign shirt back on WITH A SMILE to go pick up 2,250 yard signs across 19 counties.

Only Grace.

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Loitering on Punk’d

Am I on an episode of punk’d? No, seriously. Am I?
Newly elected State Rep. Sam Moore has introduced legislation that would eliminate the crime of loitering in the State of Georgia, remove circumstances in which citizens would need to identify themselves to law enforcement officers, (as it stands now, you must provide identifying information, even if it is only a first-tier encounter) and also amend circumstances for convicted sex offenders.

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The problem, which has just about everyone up in arms, is here:
1033Because loitering would no longer be enforceable, law enforcement would be unable to prohibit convicted sex offenders from “hanging” where minors congregate.

This is because the proper time and care of educating and informing the public on WHY the issue is important to Rep. Moore and his cause, and also what the potential ramifications are, were not given. Instead, this bill drops, Moore comes out swinging in defense of his bill and everyone is screaming he hates children.

As a staunch advocate of Liberty and a person who understands the true brokenness of the criminal justice system, this is a terrible, awful, up-to-no good bill– not necessarily because of the intent, but because of the ramifications and because we have now prohibited civil discourse.

Loitering – if not on private property- probably shouldn’t be a crime. It’s harmless for most and generally applies to bored teens in bagging jeans. But how do you handle the sexual registry aspect that pertains to loitering? We argue that parents have a reasonable expectation that their children will be safe when they send them to school. It’s why we hate gun-free zones. It’s why we support armed teachers in schools. If this is an attack on Republicans and conservatives who don’t necessarily support criminal justice system reforms, this is wrong.  If this is an attempt to make Republican colleagues look less conservative, this is wrong. If our goal is to protect life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness for all, how do you circumvent the issue of protecting those who cannot protect themselves? I don’t say this often, but I do find this to be one of those special times where perhaps an alternative measure should be implemented, but at a minimum, prepared.

Let’s also talk about the national stage. What happens when someone not familiar with the Georgia Liberty movement, like oh say CNN, picks this and blasts headlines about Republicans in Georgia who want to allow convicted sex  offenders to be around children?  Take a look at the headline from the Cherokee Tribune. Unfortunately, now the environment is too volatile and hostile for the community, and fellow legislators, to have the conversation about this legislation.