Author Archives: Jessica Szilagyi

My Take on the GOP Gubernatorial Race.

With seven choices, five of whom are garnering the majority of the media and polling attention, a good number of people are still deciding between one, two, or even three candidates.

So, I figured I would offer my perspective on the candidates based on what I’ve seen in the race since October.

I had the opportunity to sit as a panelist in the first gubernatorial debate last fall and in my capacity with AllOnGeorgia, I have been able to interview each of the top 5 contenders, with the exception of Casey Cagle (though he’s been in government long enough and appeared on enough earned media spots that it’s easy to gather where he stands on certain issues).

The Republican Primary alone has drawn more than $17 million in donations to Cagle, Hill, Kemp, Tippins, and Williams and a little over three weeks remain. Even with the large amounts of money flowing to each campaign, the issues remain on the backburner of most of the media coverage.


Casey Cagle – Current Lieutenant Governor, Former State Senator (website)

Cagle is a charismatic politician who is comfortable catering his message to his crowds. He has a 26 year career under his belt, meaning his laundry list of policy-based talking points runs deep and voters tend to believe what he is saying because of his high name recognition. He also has the money to push any message to any location.

  • Cagle has promised to create 500,000 new jobs in Georgia in his first term.
  • He has promised more reversible lanes on highways and to continuing pushing for rural broadband.
  • He has promised to maintain a balanced budget without raising taxes.
  • Cagle pledged, on his website, to ‘protect hunting heritage’ and law-abiding citizens have the right to protect themselves.

He’s raised about $7 million in this campaign.

PROS: You know what you’ll get with Casey Cagle. He’s presided over the Georgia Senate for the last decade so his learning curve won’t be steep. He already knows how to make sausage. He’s a moderate in every sense of the word, which would make him appealing to Democrats in a General Election as well.

CONS: His track record on the Second Amendment is abysmal. He helped block CBD oil legislation. As lieutenant governor, Cagle has not had to cast a vote (or as some might see it – take a stand) on an issue in 12 years. He’s chalked up Senate failures to ‘lacking time’ despite his own efforts to block initiatives. And if you don’t like someone who keeps score and holds grudges, a Cagle governorship would be a nightmare for you.

Hunter Hill – Former State Senator (Website)

Hunter Hill is a former State Senator who was elected in 2012, so while he is experienced in the political arena, his tenure wasn’t long enough to destroy his idealism or his conservative leanings. He’s also a combat veteran which brings about different leadership skills from someone who has never served in –understated — ‘high-stress’ situations. His slogan of being tired of politicians that ‘campaign like Ronald Reagan and govern like Barack Obama’ has brought him considerable support.

  • He supports eliminating the state income tax.
  • He favors religious freedom legislation.
  • He opposes sanctuary cities and has vowed to block state funding to cities that shelter illegal immigrants.
  • Hill has prioritized veterans in his campaign platform, something he also did while serving in the legislature.

He’s raised $2.7 million to date.

PROS: He has a legislative record we can look to for an understanding of his values. As a state senator, Hill stood against the state’s tax increases -HB 170- but still has solutions to what he opposes. He  has a strong plan for where money for things that fall into the ‘proper role of government’ should originate, like infrastructure and education. He knows how the system works, but he was never part of a ‘clique’ under the Gold Dome.

CONS: Hill resigned from his State Senate seat to run for Governor, saddling taxpayers with the cost of a special election. The press around his position on the Second Amendment position and the criticism of a vocal minority focused on the intricacies of whether or not he was an Army Ranger or Ranger-qualified have kept skeptics from jumping on his campaign bandwagon. My biggest concern all along has been his metro roots and learning curve for ‘the two Georgias’ would mean rural Georgia would be left behind.

Brian Kemp – Current Secretary of State, Former State Senator (Website)

Brian Kemp was the first candidate to sit down with AllOnGeorgia after he released his plan for rural Georgia. He answered every question I asked during our interview, without skirting the issue pressed, even when he seemed to know I may not like the answer.  His message has been consistent for the duration of his campaign, regardless of where he’s campaigning.

He’s raised $2.9 million to date.

PROS: Kemp has served in an executive position before, so his experience is not limited to the legislative branch. He’s also worked in an office that saw budget cuts and worked within those means. He’s traveled to all 159 counties and understands the difference between metro and rural Georgia. His campaign has been rooted heavily in itemized, well-thought out plans, not promises.

CONS: His time as SOS has been the source of considerable bad press and even some snafus. He’s been in politics for a while, so with that, comes relationships, donor histories, and favors.  Also, if you’re a libertarian voting in the Republican Primary, you’re probably still really ticked about the Kemp ballot access stuff.

Clay Tippins – Businessman (Website)

Tippins is a newcomer to the political arena, but he’s taken the time to research and to meet with high-ranking Georgia officials to discuss the budget and state operations practices. His lengthy business tenure puts him in a position to see Georgia like a business that should run like a well-oiled machine.

  • He opposes religious freedom legislation.
  • He is a no-exceptions supporter of the Second Amendment.
  • His initiatives call for reducing the state income tax, but not eliminating.
  • He favors transparency and accountability in government.
  • Open to the idea of in-state cultivation of marijuana for CBD oil access.

He’s raised $2.5 million to date.

PROS: He’s never held political office, so he’s not a career politician. He’s a numbers guy, so efficiency is cut and dry for him. His lacking political career would make it simpler for him to objectively weigh the value of a government service or action, as opposed to someone who has spent years in the political arena.

CONS: He’s never held political office before, so we have no record to look to, no understanding of who he is under pressure, or with the crown. We only have his word to take and have to trust his sincerity.

Michael Williams – State Senator (Website)

Michael Williams is a double-edged sword. By that, I mean, most of what many of his opponents (or those not supporting him) consider his negatives are also positives. Williams considers himself an ‘outsider,’ but says it is more of a mentality than an actual position.

  • He favors a state solution for law enforcement pay problems.
  • Supports the Fair Tax and the elimination of the state income tax.
  • Williams wants term limits for statewide elected office holders.
  • He is against casinos and supports freezing college tuition rates.
  • He supports Constitutional Carry.
  • Williams has vowed to support a “heartbeat bill” in Georgia and to improve homeschooling laws.
  • Favors in-state cultivation for marijuana for the purpose of access to CBD oil.

He’s raised about 1.78 million to date.

PROS: Williams has donated a substantial amount of money to both his Senate run in 2014 and his gubernatorial campaign, which likely means he hasn’t made extensive promises to large organizations or lobbyists. When interviewed, he was direct in his answers and unapologetic about his responses. He went on the record to say the executive branch is too powerful and that some agencies in place need to be eliminated. His CPA background puts him in a position to analyze everything.

CONS: His pro-Trump platform has silenced some of his message tailored to Georgia. He also spends a lot of time talking about his opponents when his message is one that would resonate if he focused on it. His legislative record in 2015 and 2016 indicated a different Michael Williams than the one in 2017 and 2018.He did voted for HB 170, the largest tax increase in recent state history.


Experts tell those in the business world that selling something requires an emotional connection, not just an end result of customer satisfaction and politics is no difference. I recognize that not all voters operate on the black and white scale of issues, and some need feelings. So let’s talk about feelings.

Cagle leaves you feeling like everything Georgia has done is exactly right and very little change is needed. If you’ve supported the last eight years of governance, Cagle reminds you why. If you haven’t supported the last eight years, well, then, you probably don’t feel energized (or anything else) by Cagle.

Hill instills the vision that every task is a mission that needs to be (and can be) accomplished. To some, it may seem robotic, but if you listen carefully, you’re more likely to hear someone who just has a list of overhauls and policy initiatives that he’s already prioritized. He offsets any type of ‘inside baseball’ with his use of personal stories, so those not entrenched with the political process can relate.

Kemp, before embarking down the road of politics, makes you feel good, even proud, about being a Georgian. His genuine demeanor is the kind most of us wish all of our politicians embodied – one that exudes honesty. His ability to build trust amongst those he’s talking to makes it easy to unite around the rest of his platform.

Tippins espouses an aura of unadulterated hard work. He gives the feeling that he’s ready to be in control and he will be the one driving the proverbial bus. He can easily embolden someone to becomes just as knowledgeable on the budgeting process and state operations as he did in his short time since announcing for Governor.

Williams’ understanding of the proper role of government and his message to shrink the power of the executive branch leaves you thinking that is actually possible to change how things are done in the State of Georgia. His message isn’t rehearsed. I remarked after the October 2017 debate that you can feel he honestly believes what he is saying. That still rings true.

I now know who I’m supporting in the Governor’s race, but I won’t be using this platform to try to sway your opinion. This is about who you want as your next leader of the state. I urge you to look at the candidates as a whole. Don’t focus on who has the most money (or the least) and try not to focus on a single issue. There are good and bad qualities about each of them, so consider them from the perspective of character and consistency.


The Art of Negative Campaigning

Negative campaigning. It’s an art – one we all hate, love to hate, but probably most importantly – hate to love.

Every time campaign season comes around, regardless of which level of government, we all cringe and say “it’s never been this bad,” but a few candidates and/or elected officials get smeared, the rest of us survive, and we go back to our lives until the next time around.

The art of negative campaigning is a pillar of the political game.

So what is negative campaigning?

These days, negative campaigning seems to fall into the category of any tactic or approach to campaigning that involves the person(s) another is running against and offends any person, anywhere on any issue, regardless of whether it affects them or if they are registered to vote.

No, but seriously.

In reality, the most concise way to tell you what it is is to actually show you what it isn’t.

It isn’t voting records, campaign donations, publicly posted policy positions, references to social media account activity, a list of endorsements, or use of previously recorded statements. Also not included in the list is polling results.

These are all things that actually happened. They are verifiable facts that actually took place in the world we live in and someone was present to document or record it as a moment in history. That may sound like an extreme definition, but it’s true. And it always irks me when voting records are considered negative campaigning. If someone feels that it’s negative campaigning for another to bring up a vote they cast, perhaps the vote just had a negative impact and the candidate doesn’t want to talk about it. A vote, in and of itself, cannot be negative. Neither can a donor list. A choice was made to cast a vote and to accept a donation or endorsement. There is room in politics to challenge choices.

In fact, if you’re challenging an incumbent, a voting record should be the base camp and everything should flow from there. If you’re trying to make the case that someone should be sent home from their position – whether it be city council member or Congressman – your reasoning should be rooted in concrete information that actually took place, not because you want power or you dislike the person who holds the seat. That concept is not negative.

What is negative is distorted lies, half-truths, attacks on family, involvement of children, sexual preference, whisper campaigns, integrating fake organizations, faceless anonymous social media accounts, hit piece websites with no disclaimer about who is paying for them, news stories that resemble a campaign message more than an unbiased report, clipped robocalls with a scary voice from anonymous people, or things that aren’t relevant to actually serving in office.

Every election season, we see unaffected third-parties infiltrate local communities, whether it be a corporation or powerful lobbying organization flooding a county over an airport issue, an independent political action committee trying to sway the outcome of a House or Senate seat, or anonymous mailers making harsh accusations in the Governor’s race. We can’t always put it right into a box, but claim we know negative campaigning when we see it. We recognize it when that certain feeling comes over us at the mailbox or in the news feed.

But what really matters is whether or not it works.

Campaign staffers and consultants – those earning money off of tarnishing the images of others – say it does. The notion is that, voters don’t like the negative ads but perceptions are still changed after they are exposed to the information. Perhaps it’s even more beneficial for those who take credit for the negative attack ads because their name ID is boosted, too. And of course, political pundits like it because it offers content for discussion.

But I’m not convinced it always works.

Of course, each time it happens, there are claims of the exhaustion from “politics as usual,” but I’m not sure that’s the reason people resist negative campaigning. Sometimes it may be because it’s too late in the game and supporters are solidified, other times because the negativity hits on all the wrong issues. But when it fails, the idealist in me has to believe it fails because the attacker made a victim out of the person on the receiving end. Plus, we all wonder how it doesn’t hurt the person leveraging the attacks and if they’re so empty and unprincipled inside that they can’t discuss the positives of themselves.

Okay, maybe that’s a bit harsh.

Negative campaigning works best on those who already weren’t supporting the person being attacked. That’s who carries the message, shares it on social media, tells a friend at church….”Did you hear…??”

Yes, Susan. We all received the mailer.

But everyone else, all the undecided voters, they’re drowning in a sea of information that is presented beautifully well – often over and over – from people they don’t know. More than likely, if they’re still undecided, it’s because they aren’t an ‘insider’ and they don’t live and breathe the political game every day like some of us. It doesn’t make them wrong, it just puts them in a different position to digest negative campaigning. And we all know far too well that the undecided voter is beyond unpredictable.

So the ‘Art of Negative Campaigning,’ I suppose, is that there really isn’t any ‘Art’ about it all and, depending on the demographics, the issues, the person running, the person leveraging the attacks, the people sharing the attacks after the attacks have been made, when the negative campaigning begins, whether or not it’s believable, whether or not it’s verifiable, and the overall outlook on life the voter has, it’s possible that it might work. The only guarantee is that voters – and non-voters – collectively unite to pray that Election Day…or a giant meteor…would just hurry up and get here.

Analysis: GOP Gubernatorial Candidates Meet on Stage for the First Time

In true political nerd fashion, I spent my Saturday morning in Milledgeville attending the first Republican gubernatorial debate. I also had the pleasure of sitting front and center on the panel to ask questions of candidates. In all my cynicism, I can still say the forum was informative and a mechanism for distinguishing candidates.

In a surprise to even myself, I found that I agree with each candidate on at least one issue, though the disagreements were plentiful, too. But below I’m going to offer a preliminary analysis of debate #1, highlighting their strong points and offering points for reflection for improvement.

Listening to one minute responses on issues that are sure to affect us all is not ideal, and if I had it my way, I would interview each one on camera for an hour for a comprehensive and well-rounded picture, but I’m neither the boss nor the scheduler, so my compilation of thoughts is based on what I saw Saturday and not what I know of the candidates prior to October 7.

Phil Kent and I each had the opportunity to ask 3 questions. Phil went with illegal immigration, casinos, and transportation while I tackled tax exemptions, cannabis oil, and rural health care. They also answered two audience questions on education and religious liberty. The entire forum is available for viewing on AllOnGeorgia here.

Lt. Governor Casey Cagle, Senator Hunter Hill, Secretary of State Brian Kemp, Marc Alan Urbach, and Senator Michael Williams were all present. Clay Tippins was not in attendance.

In terms of staying on topic, we didn’t get off to too great of a start. Michael Williams was the only candidate to answer my question about whether or not Georgia has too many tax breaks for large corporations. The others diverted to income tax discussions and tax reform generally, despite my question’s specificity.

All of the candidates seemed to agree on illegal immigration enforcement and the blocking of in-state tuition for undocumented students. While I do not doubt the difficulty in discussing immigration without including the federal government, they all muddied the waters on what “should be done” versus “what can actually be done” here in Georgia.

I was disappointed across the board with their positions on cannabis oil and in-state cultivation. Only Williams and Urbach said they were in favor of expanding the list of conditions for cannabis oil use, while Kemp said he was open to listening. None support in-state cultivation for any reason, citing a pathway to recreational marijuana. A recurring justification was federal law and consistency: if we are going to enforce federal immigration laws, we should also enforce federal drug laws. Similarly, they were all firm NOs on casino gambling in Georgia.

Each candidate seemed to excel on the question about the rural healthcare crisis – though only one actually addressed the rural health care crisis. Each offered valuable points on health care overall, but my takeaway was that Kemp has the greatest sense of clarity on rural healthcare – and rural issues overall. He was able to offer solutions that have a chance to be implemented, and in the short term. His proposal of telemedicine by way of broadband Internet and recognizing medical infrastructure as the lifeline for young people to return back to their communities after getting an education demonstrated that Kemp won’t have to wait for local government leaders to explain problems. My hope is that as we get closer to election time, they’ll all focus less on the Affordable Care Act and more on what work can be done in the state legislature without federal involvement.


Cagle is comfortable in front of an audience and he’s no stranger to the political arena. It Image result for casey cagleworks in his favor as long winded answers seem to roll off his tongue as if he’d rehearsed for hours. His ability to cite relevant statistics – and even cater them to the crowd he’s addressing…in this case, Baldwin County – surpasses that of anyone else on stage.

Hill is direct. He is honest about tough issues like transportation and education as well as Image result for hunter hillfrom where he thinks the money should originate. When he speaks, you can’t help but feel he is telling you the truth. He offers personal stories in his answers to illustrate that he actually does understand the issues being discussed.

Kemp is seasoned, sincere, and delivers his message in a very relaxed manner. He is goodImage result for brian kemp at making voters feel like they’ll be a part of the process and that he is ready to listen. It is clear he is already familiar with the difficulties different counties across the state experience, so he is past the learning curve.

Urbach, whether you agree with him or not, is memorable because he’s Image result for marc alan urbachentertaining to watch. While awkward for most of us, his praise for Senator Hill was heartwarming. Urbach acknowledged agreement with other candidates far more than any of the others, which, in my opinion, shows he does not compare himself to them. He is comfortable in acknowledging similarities, which I’m sure is due, in part, to political naivite – not a bad thing.

Williams is consistent in his responses. He has a campaign message of an ‘conservative outsider Image result for michael williams georgia‘ that he manages to insert into every answer without being blunt and that isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Whether you agree with what he is saying or not, it is clear he honestly believes in his message and his platform. He is not simply trying to mirror the campaign or the success of our President.


Cagle struggled to outline his focus on rural healthcare and instead defaulted to metro healthcare and problems in insurance. Cagle’s focal point in the rural v. metro discussion was one sided and seemingly unconcerned with the far reaching corners of the state. He also struggled to identify specific issues he championed as a legislator or as Lieutenant Governor and focused more on what “Republicans” have done.

Hill, even in his directness, wasn’t assertive. He had a few opportunities to say more by using fewer words, but left the opportunity on the table. Hill has a lot of great ideas based on very conservative values, but did not offer a way to implement them. Given the short amount of time, I wouldn’t expect that on every question, but of the 8 questions ask, no answer focused on ways he already has accomplished something or ways he plans to in the future.

Kemp needs to show more passion while sharing his views. While I haven’t always agreed with his positions over the years, I’ve never questioned his character – and that is something many others will say, too – and I don’t believe we saw his true character reflected in his responses on Saturday.

Urbach needs to watch out for the double edged sword of being memorable. He cracked a lot of jokes and spent a substantial amount of time talking about things not brought up as part of the question posed. He is right on issues and needs to laser in on seriousness so people actually listen to what he is saying.

Williams spent a lot of time attacking Casey Cagle. At one point, Williams mentioned that the establishment and the media have been after him and I believe that if he is battling to set a narrative about himself, he should spend more time articulating who he is, step away from the shadows of Trump, and focus less on the problems stemming from inside baseball with Cagle.

I am still an undecided voter, but I know exactly what I’m looking for in a candidate. No one deserves my vote or your vote – all of them must earn it, so over the next seven months, I encourage you to decide what your core issues are and keep a close eye on each of these candidates.

If video does not appear, click ‘watch on Facebook’ and you will be redirected.

Georgia legislators channel inner Joel Osteen

In 2015, I said I would never forgive the Georgia legislature for putting forth a bill that put me in a position to defend strippers, but the government overreach and unnecessary taxation was just too much to keep quiet. It was a trying time and even still, if you google my name, you’ll be blessed to see information about strippers – all in the name of liberty.

And here we are, two years later, facing another overreach and another tax. The victim this time? Porn.

State representative Paulette Rakestraw has filed House Bill 509 which would require pauletteretailers to put a “digital blocking capability” on some devices to make “obscene material” inaccessible. Retailers, in this code section, would mean anyone who SELLS or LEASES a device that allows content to be accessed on the Internet. The “blocking capability” is required to make porn, child porn, revenge porn, websites about prostitution, and websites about sex trafficking all inaccessible.

Retailers would be required to have a telephone line where consumers could call to report complaints and it prohibits retailers from giving consumers intel on how to deactivate the blocking program themselves.

Here is the real humdinger: If you are 18 years of age or older, request in writing that you would like to deactivate the program, acknowledge in writing that you understand the dangers (yes, that is really the word they use) of deactivating the program, and pay a $20 fee, you can have the program removed from your device.

You read that correctly. If, as a reasonable, responsible, American adult, you wish to look at obscene material in the privacy of your own home, you have to tell the grandmother at the Wal-Mart check out line that you would like her to delete the program so you can enjoy the device to the fullest extent.

First things first: how does a computer program identify whether or not porn is regular porn or revenge porn? Where does the list of people who consented in writing go? Is the state going to maintain a database of who may one day look at obscene content?

Second, phones, tablets, computers, Smart TVs, AppleWatch, Fitbits – anything that connects to the Internet would be subjected to this $20 fee if you, as an adult, wish to enjoy the luxury of obscenities and adult entertainment. The language is so broad and does not specify what type of content has to be accessible for a device to qualify.

The cover is in the name of the bill. “Human Trafficking Prevention Act.” Your legislators believe that taxing people who watch porn will prevent human trafficking. Say that aloud so you can hear how ridiculous the idea is.

The money will be directed, by way of a Constitutional Amendment, to the “Georgia Mental Health and Addiction Treatment Trust Fund” and then directed to programs for nonpermanent long-term residential mental health and addiction treatment.

Would someone like to explain to me how funding addiction treatment programs is going to help prevent human trafficking?

People who become victims as a result of any violation of the legislation can apply for restitution from the fund for an amount not to exceed three times the amount the original consumer paid the retailer for the device.

At first glance of the bill, I thought the legislation was sponsored by Kim Jong Un, but no, it is our beloved Republicans. Republicans that should obviously hand over their Party cards and get in line for the Communist Express train that is on its way. This is not limited government. This is not low taxation. This is not pro-Constitution.

Let’s once again, run through the reasons why something like this is not only inappropriate, but unconstitutional.

Porn is free speech. This is a tax on free speech. A tax on people who wish to exercise and enjoy free speech.

Here’s another thing: By taxing porn, the government is condoning the industry, “allowing” it to exist, if you will. If the risks are SO high for sex trafficking and child pornography, then all porn should be illegal.

The fact that there is no advocacy for eradication of porn just reiterates the point: This isn’t about protecting anyone or helping anyone. It’s about taxing a vulnerable industry that is considered immoral. There is less resistance. After all, who is going to speak out in favor of porn?

Why does a woman like myself, who sees no value in porn – for education or entertainment – have to take on a cause and try to explain to our legislators why free speech protects obscenities?

Now, Crossover Day has come and gone, which means House Bill 509 cannot pass “as-is,” but the legislature has already passed multiple sex trafficking and sex crime bills in both chambers to which this language could be attached. And then, of course, there is next year due to the fact that a bill can be revived in a two-year period.

I told you this would happen. Anyone who opposed the garbage that was Senate Bill 8 knew this would happen. When you give government the authority to tax a business because of preference, not purpose, you set a precedent. A $5,000 annual fee just to run an adult entertainment establishment leads to a $20 fee if you want the privilege to view the dark parts of the Internet while at home…what is next?

Forests, strippers, fireworks and porn. That would be the Georgia Constitution, y’all.

If passed by the legislature, the Constitutional Amendment to make this permanent would be on the November 2018 ballot. The worst part of all is that they will probably get away with it.

We aren’t winning.

There are two things I hate: when someone takes advantage of their position in government and when The People are silenced. Unfortunately, my job highlights both of those things almost daily.

I remember when I first moved to South Georgia and started working on a corruption case. Someone said to me, “You know they’re not all going to be like this. Not all towns are like this.” Of course I didn’t believe him because I’m no political rookie and it took me all of one month on the council/commission meeting circuit to learn that simply is not true.

Whether people are buying elections, making promises to businesses, circumventing the system checks and balances, discussing votes off the record ahead of time, quietly receiving money, publicly receiving money, ignoring the rule of law, or having prisoners mow their own yard, nearly everywhere you look you will see people losing the battles against their governments.

Sure, there are little victories and things to cheer about, but by and large, problems exist in all corners of government operations. Throw in the courts and the public universities for good measure.

If I had a dollar for every time an interested, informed citizen was made a mockery of or told that a council meeting was not a time for them to address their council members I could build my own town, which I would, of course, name Sunshine USA.

But this is the reality. The reality is that your elected officials hope you aren’t paying attention and they hope you’ll excuse any bad behavior because of a long running friendship or because they sit with you at church.

I am sick and tired of people saying, “He is such a good dad” or “She has given so much to the community.” What’s even worse is when someone says, “Well, they are really trying to do what is best.”

First of all, that is fantastic, but they were not elected because they coach soccer. Second, no, they are not doing what is best for the community at the local, state or federal level. These people who rise to power via election or appointment know exactly what they’re doing. They help facilitate a system that keeps them in control. They lie to you, they twist words, they leave information out because power feels good.

“It’s not a tax increase, it’s a revenue increase,” one Georgia legislator said.
What does that even mean?

I am not saying there are not any good people in politics – I know many of them. But like us, they are losing.

Look at the state legislature. Last Wednesday and Friday the House chamber shoved nearly 100 bills to the floor for a vote. Three of them died, two of which were brought back to pass after strong arming folks to flip their votes, which they did. So out of all of those bills, all those topics, all those industries, and all those groups of people that will be affected, just one time did the people you trust to serve you collaboratively think an initiative was not in your best interest.

I could dedicate an entire blog series to terrible things the legislature does and how ours operates so backwardly, I need the state government to mandate Frontier upgrade my rural broadband before I am able to take on an endeavor like a blog series.

In all seriousness, the Georgia legislature is quietly morphing into a photocopy of the federal level – minus the Democrats who vote NO. There once was a group of legislators who would vote NO, work to reform bad bills, and influence their fellow lawmakers, but between political pressure and a damaged professional life, that movement has dissolved. Few remain, but clearly not enough. Just like one or two commissioners is not enough for change, neither is a handful of legislators when the population of the chamber is 180.

And what is this nonsense about people who vote NO being villains? I can think of more times than not when it is appropriate to vote nay: Perhaps when you did not read the bill, when you do not understand the bill, when an overwhelming number of your constituents request that you do, when you know the bill will do something negative – even to only one person, when you do not know what the bill will do, when the bill benefits a specific group of people.

Besides, if the issue is that important, it will come back soon. I assure you that no one will die while waiting for musicians who produce in Georgia to have a tax credit crafted for their industry. If you wait to approve the legislation adding “llama” to the livestock code section, I promise the world will keep turning.

Voting NO has become taboo. Look at Senators Rand Paul and Ted Cruz or Congressman Justin Amash. They have earned a level of respect, but they are still outcasts. They vote NO too much, they are idealists, they are unreasonable, and worst of all – they’re just doing it for publicity. That’s right – you’re the media whore if you dare commit the illicit action of voting against something. You’re dangerous and the powers that be will try to damage you to the people who helped elect you. “How dare you vote against my idea” is used more frequently than “Maybe we’ll agree on the next one” or “Explain to me why you voted NO.”

As for whether or not The People help decide whether or not something is going to become law, it’s time to let the air out of the balloon. It just isn’t happening. Haleigh’s HOPE Act for medical cannabis is one of the few initiatives where there was statewide pressure to pass legislation, so they did. But when the people oppose something, you may as well be speaking Yiddish in China.

To our elected officials, it’s about a tangible legacy and what can be left behind. It’s about what can be said about their tenure.

Unfortunately, the local governments are just a microcosm of all of the above. The Commissioner who questions something in a meeting is suddenly a pain in the rear. The city councilwoman who asks to table a tax increase because she thinks it’s too much is “radical.” We praise the bumps on a long who only repeat “YEA” over and over and over because they pick up the phone when we call and they send a card at Christmas.

And what are you doing while all of this is unfolding? You are in the gallery while the surgeons mutilate your organs and swipe the extra cash in your wallet while you’re under anesthesia. We watch from above but we feel every cut, snip, and tuck.

Things are not changing and as it stands, the path forward is paved with disappointment. After a while, you learn that a “win” for The People is often accompanied by the humiliation of someone else and it is likely that the very best you can do is ruin a legacy.

You attend council meetings only to be asked to refrain from commenting. You watch your Commissioners spend your money against the will of the community. You campaign for your state official only to learn that the dollar of a lobbyist is worth more than yours. You call your Congressman to be told “I’ll make note of it.” You see good people sour and succumb to the system. You become the cynic that everyone loves to hate.

But you won’t quit and neither will I. We’ll just complain about it, go to bed, and wake up for another round tomorrow. Because if we don’t, who will?

Ladies, you didn’t march for me.

Many women marched Saturday, but many weren’t marching for me.

I’m always amazed when people can gather in such large numbers. It’s a very powerful

Photo: The Globe and Mail

Photo: The Globe and Mail

thing and shows a considerable effort and movement. Between news headlines and Facebook friends, we were all able to get a real-time view of many of these marches around the country. I watched all day and saw a grave disconnect between purposes.

First, it is very difficult to believe the march wasn’t an “anti-Trump” gathering when it happened the day after the inauguration. This is coming from someone who many most would label “anti-Trump.” None of us believe you. The narratives were blurred as some women said it was only about equal rights while others said they marched because Friday they were suddenly with fewer rights than on Thursday. Some activists said the march was in no way a partisan thing, however, several high profile speeches, i.e.Madonna and Ashley Judd, make it evident that that simply isn’t true. And don’t even get me started on some of the financial sponsors of the march. It was partisan. Full stop.

By the way, how are rights partisan? If this is about a Republican president, then why, after eight years of a Democrat president, are women not in the perfectly equal position that feminists believe we should be?

So, we’ve acknowledged that for many (not all) the march was a political resistance, can we discuss how the marches came to organize?

I will never deny that President Trump has made some distasteful, downright inappropriate comments about women, but I struggle to distinguish how some of these signs, statements, and slogans aren’t any less degrading to women. How does a sign that reads, “Eat ***** not grab it” promote equality?

I’ve spent the last 18 months blasting Trump on every word and he’s made no mention of restricting the rights of women. We will still vote, we will still own property, drive vehicles, dress as we please, work, and even protest. His daughter, Ivanka, is a successful, powerhouse entrepreneur who doesn’t seem to back down. While you may not agree with their ideologies, Trump’s cabinet and administration is plush with women in high ranking positions. I don’t think they are there to pour coffee and straighten ties.

The media is at a greater risk of losing access and rights than women are.

While I don’t necessarily consider myself a traditional “feminist” in any sense of the word, it’s not even the issues or battles they’re fighting, but how they’re battling those fights. I love my freedoms and will stand to protect them any day of the week. I’ll stand beside others to fight for their freedoms, but I will never understand what is gained from this type of “resistance.” What exactly are they resisting?

The vulgar, non-policy driven rhetoric has got to stop. The disservice you are doing to

Photo: CNN

Photo: CNN

women who have actual concerns grows by the day. The women marching for equal pay, the glass ceiling, or paid maternity leave should be ashamed of these other women. I am. We can all agree there are chauvinist men. I live in rural Georgia where some men are still behind the times. I promise you I’ve seen it. I still see it. “Be seen, not heard,” they say. But I’ve also seen women force those walls to crumble because of their hard work, their integrity, and their brilliance.

Some of that hard work, integrity, and brilliance is demonstrated here:

But if you believe you are, in fact, equal, stop isolating yourself in an activist group by gender.

There’s a gross misunderstanding between “different” and “equal.” Women are, and always will be, different from men. Whether you believe in a God who created us in His vision or a spontaneous creation followed by years of evolution, we. are. different.

How does getting free birth control paid for by someone else demonstrate that you are a strong, independent woman? How does personifying your genitals legitimize your cause? How does a generation of young girls benefit when you teach them that their bodies make more statements than their brilliant, untarnished minds?

All of the rights that are afforded to ‘man’ are applicable to women without clarification. Free speech, the Second Amendment, due process, speedy trials, voting, property rights – these rights apply to us. We are equal under our the reign of our government.

I don’t know what was accomplished yesterday. I don’t even know what they wanted to be accomplished yesterday. My hope is that many female activists gathered and connected for future work, for efforts, for organizations…not for headlines. My hope is that these women made themselves known so they can become, or stay, engaged in the political process.

But I’m engaged and I didn’t march yesterday. I don’t need a pink hat to demonstrate that I am equal. The only thing under my clothing that empowers me is my heart. My brain and my dignity do the rest. I am equal because I believe I am equal. The very fact that millions gathered around the nation, and world, Saturday without any kind of barrier is evidence of just that.

Many of you marched Saturday, but many of you didn’t march for me.

We’ve already ruined any real chance of eradicating “fake news”

It was at the top of the list for 2016 election rhetoric and whether you ended up on the winning side or the losing side, you’re probably still talking about it: fake news.

Fake news, by definition, is something that is not real – hence the term “fake.” The actual definition reads:

“News satire, also called fake news, is a type of parody presented in a format typical of mainstream journalism, and called a satire because of its content. News satire has been around almost as long as journalism itself, but it is particularly popular on the web, for example on websites like The Onion or Faking News, where it is relatively easy to mimic a credible news source and stories may achieve wide distribution from nearly any site. News satire relies heavily on irony and deadpan humor.”

But no one is slamming The Onion or Faking News or El Mundo Today. Most are slamming CNN, MSNBC, Fox News, CBS, ABC, The New York Times, the Associated Press, the Washington Post, or any other source that isn’t CSPAN or a personal blog where someone reaffirms the reader’s exact beliefs. This is happening because people are angry and, more often than not, their anger is justified. The mainstream media on both sides, in print and in television has a slant. These outlets race to be first instead of accurate. During crises, we get wrong information. The key word is “wrong,” not “fake.”

But slants and mistatements of facts do not mean something is “fake.” It isn’t fake news to say that 20 students on a school bus died when only 6 did. It’s wrong. Because of this misunderstanding, we’ve completely obliterated any opportunity to teach people who may not understand the difference or even how to assess media sources.  In a matter of months, people have overused the term so much that the majority of people believe everything they see from a news outlet is fake.

Let’s take a look at an example that can be broken down without including partisan politics:

This past Wednesday it was announced that JonBenet Ramsey’s older brother is suing CBS News (and others) for $750 million after a series aired and insinuated that Burke may have had something to do with JonBenet’s death. Friday, his lawyer came out slamming CBS as “fake news” because of the series. Sound the buzzer because that. is. wrong. (For now, we’ll set aside the irony of perpetuating a story that is supposedly so defamatory, it’s worth $750 million)

FACTS: 1. JonBenet was killed. 2. Police have considered Burke a person of interest at some time or another. 3. 20 years later, law enforcement officials have no real leads on who actually committed the crime.
ASSUMPTIONS: The mother and father were ruled out, the ransom note is believed to be forged, and the brother was the only person left in the house “so it had to be Burke.” (Don’t lie, you know this thought has gone through your mind on at least one occasion.)

The assumption is a statement that may or may not be untrue. It isn’t fake, it just might be wrong and at this time, it isn’t something that can be substantiated. CBS has a duty to distinguish the facts they were able to prove and then present alternative possibilities that may or not be true.  Burke very well may have a case for defamation, but his lawyer is making a mockery of the real issue and instead trying to garner attention by equating the case to the rhetoric currently on the national stage.

“Fake new” in this instance would be a headline that reads, “Burke Ramsey picked up by aliens who say they were witness to him murdering his sister.”

“Fake is defined as not genuine or something that is counterfeit. “Wrong” is defined as something that is not correct. There is a very big difference. YUGE. Bigly.

Reporting that Brad Pitt was shot in the streets of L.A. by Russian insurgents when he is actually sitting at a local coffee shop reading to elementary school children is fake news. Certainly not all instances are as extreme as this, but fake news is something that can otherwise be verified by a reader or viewer…if they wanted to make the effort.

It is truly terrifying to me that individuals want someone to censor the Internet for them and impose some sort of regulation and restriction on entities so “someone” can make sure they’re seeing the news a company thinks they should see. That doesn’t sound like the United States at all. Why would someone who doesn’t trust MSNBC or CBS or ABC trust Google or Facebook or Twitter to take on the task of sorting through what is and is not “accurate” news? Better yet, why is any individual incapable of determining for themselves whether or not information is fake.

If individuals would look at what is wrong and where it can be proven wrong, a change may actually be made in how we absorb and share information.

That starts with a change the tone of the conversation. Instead of calling everything we don’t like “fake news,” tell your friends and followers why and keep it specific. “This article from [X] is not correct. I read the official report myself and this is actually what happened…” or perhaps, “I’ve seem {blank tv station} repeatedly get the facts wrong in {x types of situations} so I’ve just decided that they aren’t a reliable source of information during [x].”

One of the very best things about America is the free flow of information – good or bad, politically correct or not, genuine or fake. Besides, the most dangerous fake news headline is the one that perpetuates the idea that just because we don’t like or agree with something, there is no possibility it could be true.


The End of the Sanctity of Libraries.

As you read the following blog entry, please play the Jaws music in your head.

I recently moved out of my rental house and am “in transition” as a finalize my next residence. Because I work from home, the chaos has doubled as I’ve struggled to find a place to work during the day that’s quiet enough to think. I started at McDonald’s because the wifi is free, but despite the hatred of their food, the constant smell of french fries was just not conducive to my dietary needs and the fact that there’s only one electric outlet available in the place – and it’s usually in use by an employee – I went to the library.

What a mistake that was.

On the blazing hot Tuesday morning, I traveled to the library for the first time in many years. After arguing with the desk clerk about whether or not I was qualified to have a library card or not, I ventured to an open table in the atrium. The tables each had signs on them that read, “QUIET ZONE. NO TALKING.” Understandably, since the atrium had high windowed ceilings that would carry the noise of a nickel dropping as if it were a church bell. I set my computer up, got out my notes, and began to work.

It wasn’t fifteen minutes before someone came into the atrium from the book section of the library to use their cell phone. As the woman carried on her conversation about what she wanted her friend to bring her for lunch, another call beeped in. I just tried to breathe deeply, and the woman, of course, took the call and shared her evening plans, giggling and laughing it up.

I tried to be patient and remember that I’m not the only person who uses a library – this is everyone’s library, I told myself. That lasted about 30 seconds because the gentleman at the table next to me whipped out his ramen noodles and started crunching them on the table. He pulled out a bowl, used water from a water bottle and proceeded to make the noodles right there on the table. When water isn’t warm, noodles don’t soften. It was a loud next few minutes. (And I have that disorder that makes you want to commit violent crimes when you hear other people chewing.)

Once lunch time was over, I managed to get in a solid hour of work done without anyone atriumusing the phone booth atrium. I was feeling good about my production when a woman wearing a name badge came into the atrium with two other people. She proceeded to pick up the “QUIET PLEASE. NO TALKING.” sign and move it to the window sill. She encouraged the people to sit down as she explained what is necessary to host an event at the library. I spent the next 10 minutes listening to where you can set up tables, what kinds of beverages are permitted on library premises, and what areas will be roped off for the organizations events. That’s right – a woman who works at the library moved the “QUIET PLEASE. NO TALKING.” sign so she could carry on a seminar, talk employment history, and chat about the storms coming through. Now I know why they have metal detectors at the front door.

Around 4:00 p.m., a man started circling the tables in the phone booth atrium. “Hey girl. What’s your name? Where you from? You got a boyfriend?”

“I’m working.”

“What’s your name? Your boyfriend here?”

It would have been easier to hear what he was saying under his breath if children weren’t racing up and down the stairs, screaming, while their parents sat on Facebook at the computers. I was literally sweating…and wondering if they were just short staffed that day. I packed up my stuff and left. Luckily I had somewhere to be.

The sun set and rose again as Wednesday was upon me. I was optimistic that Tuesday’s library ordeal was simply a fluke and today would be better. Wrong.

When I arrived, the parking lot was full and all the tables were taken. What? It’s 11:00 A.M. on a Wednesday in the summer. One table was full of people playing Monopoly. There were children eating McDonald’s at another, toying with their Happy Meal toys as a mom said, “Okay, I’ll be back in about an hour.” Apparently the county library doubles as an unsupervised daycare.

Over the course of the next few hours, I listened to cell phones ring rap songs, videos on social media, complaints about the Monopoly game, employees arguing over who would answer the phone, and even a girl play a new song on her phone for her boyfriend. I could have powered a windmill with the amount of effort I put into saying, “SHHH!!!” Someone came by to vacuum and that was the quietest part of the day.

It was complete anarchy. It was what you would see if you combined DisneyLand with a FEMA camp fire drill. And the employees never batted an eye. They pushed the book carts around, stepped over children rolling around on the floor, and smiled at patrons across the room as they talked on their phones.

I left to go get a late lunch and enjoy the peace and quiet of my own vehicle. I contemplated going to WalMart to buy a whistle and a vest so I could direct things myself, but I was already developing an eye twitch from the stress of it all. Oh, how I’d love to issue some sort of citation inside the walls of the bibliotheque. When I returned from lunch, I was bumped from the atrium to the genealogy section because people were napping at the “QUIET PLEASE. NO TALKING.” tables. I don’t think it means what they think it means.

I cranked out a little more work before heading to dinner with a friend. What a sigh of relief to know my 2 of 3 of my days at the library were done.

I’m not going to get into today’s debacles here at the book box. It started and ended with the a line for the ladies restroom because some woman was on the phone in the stall. The ONLY stall. We all waited, and waited, and waited – just like they do on Orange is the New Black. When she exited, she acted as if we were disturbing her. I don’t know why all the safe spaces in the library are also phone booths, but it’s transitioned from ‘weird’ to ‘scary.’

genealogyI’ve written this vent piece from the genealogy section where the sign reads, ‘No food or drink allowed in Genealogy.’ As I’ve typed, I listened to two children eat sunflower seeds and spit them into a solo cup. Signs mean nothing around here, but when they told me their mom had to the run errands, I wasn’t about to get onto them. And remember the whistle I wanted to buy? No need. During editing, a child was actually blowing a train whistle upstairs. May God bless all the little children. Jesus loves them, but right now, I don’t.

Growing up, I loved the library. In college, it was the quiet place where I actually got things done. The only sounds you ever heard were squeaking shoes and laptop battery warning alerts. That’s not the case anymore and I can’t wait until I never have to come back here again. Over the course of 72 hours, I’ve developed an eye twitch, spent a decent portion of those hours swearing and sweating, and I’m pretty sure the blemish on my neck is actually a hive.

The sanctity of our libraries are dead. It’s quieter at McDonald’s.

Partisanship is failing taxpayers on justice reform

They say if you’re not a liberal at 25, you have no heart and if you’re not a conservative at 35, you have no brain. I think I’ve actually mixed those two up, judging by how ‘soft’ I’ve become with regard to the corrections system in America. When it comes to justice reform, I’m a hard moderate who can find flaws in almost everything we have in practice. But I haven’t always been this way. I used to be a lock-em-up, throw away the key, anti-drug, pro-death penalty Republican. I just had no reasonable explanation for that ideology.

Over the few past years, I’ve worked for a, a bankruptcy lawyer in San Diego, a criminal defense attorney, run a district attorney’s race, and had a friend who was wrongfully convicted of heinous crimes. I’ve seen judicial discretion usurped by higher-ups while prosecutors and police sometimes work too closely. I’ve seen the system fail from many different viewpoints.

More recently, the failures and my political ideologies have piqued my interest in the Georgia Department of Corrections, legislation passed by the Georgia General Assembly, and the advocacy of organizations on the national level. I wish there was more to see out of Congress, but many of the justice reform bills are at a constant stalemate.

Why, though? Why is there little to no movement? It’s because Republicans are unwilling to move and scared to lose their “tough on crime” reputation. The biggest misconception still today is that those who believe in criminal justice reform are just liberal hacks or pro-drug hippies. That’s simply not the case. Incarcerating hundreds of thousands of people on the state and federal level who have not committed a crime against a person is not conservative. Spending 25% percent of the Department of Justice annual budget on prisons is not conservative. Having 1 in 31 Americans behind bars, on probation, or on parole is not conservative. Saying you’re “pro-family” but allowing 1 in 28 children to have a parent who is incarcerated is not conservative. Allowing legislatures to set standards for justice and sentencing instead of elected and appointed judges is not conservative.

In 2012, as taxpayers we spent $60 billion on prisoners, with federal prisoners costing Americans nearly $30,000 each every year – if they aren’t on death row. Interestingly, it costs $80.25 per day for a federal inmate, while Georgia inmates are said to cost about $46 per day. It may seem small until you consider there are 218,000 federal inmates and far too many are nonviolent drug offenders. Regardless, mass incarceration is costing a fortune, especially when you consider hidden costs not originally appropriated in budgets.

Since 1980, our federal prison population has increased by 800%, but the biggest problem of all is that “tough on crime” doesn’t actually make communities safer. It’s a false sense of security that we’ve fallen for in an effort to feel like we are holding society to a moral standard even though we aren’t actually getting hardened criminals off the street. After all, there are more than 400,000 acts that carry a criminal penalty in the United States.

According to Families Against Mandatory Minimums, an advocacy group seeking to eliminate mandatory minimum sentences, 92% of drug offenders in federal prisons didn’t play a leadership role in the crime they committed, meaning they aren’t the kingpin. Without the kingpin, it’s unlikely the drug operation ceased after arrest. Further, 83% of those had no weapon involved in their crime. Those numbers are based on the 20,600 federal drug offenders sentenced in 2015 alone and only 4% of those 20,000+ sentenced received a sentence of probation. Worse, incarceration is said to cost 8X as much as probationary supervision.

Even so, we’ve come a long way from where we were.

In Georgia, we’ve made decent strides as Governor Deal pushed to “ban the box” for state agencies and licensing boards who used to require criminal history to be disclosed on applications, we’ve reduced the availability of criminal records for some low-level first-time offenders, added education programs in prisons to reduce recidivism, and allowed some convicted persons to maintain their drivers licenses – all of this with the vision in mind that those who are willing and able to obtain and maintain a job after serving time are more likely to succeed and less likely to return to prison. Considerable foresight and an open mind has saved the state hundreds of thousands of dollars.

But here, we face a massive culture stigma that is hindering progress more than anything.

Unfortunately, the Georgia General Assembly passes legislation with mandatory minimum sentences nearly every year. Our elected officials lack the understanding that not all crimes are created equal and that those chosen to serve The People may not be the best decision makers when it comes to the legal system. The legislature continues to expand the supervisory authority of the state with agencies like the Georgia Department of Community Supervision and the extension of private probation companies around the state. Georgia is also home to 5 private prisons – another issue for another day – but a problem nevertheless. It seems, above all, our elected officials are unwilling to step up to the plate and explain to voters why less prison is more efficient.

On the federal level, there is no parole – something that went into effect in 1987. Prison terms are served until completion because there is no supervisory agency. While “good behavior” can take time off the back end, it doesn’t do much for inmates once they’re released. There’s also a shortage of violent criminals in federal prisons. Most murderers, rapists, child molesters, and the like are in state prisons. Mandatory minimum sentences are still a major hindrance to justice on the federal level as well. Drugs are measured by the amount of plants or in grams with strict definitions set in black and white, essentially eradicating all judicial discretion. Without even utilizing or brandishing a firearm during the commission of a federal drug offense, mere possession of a weapon with a silencer can put someone away for a mandatory 30 years for the first offense and for life on a second offense. Those sentences don’t include the punishment for the actual drug offenses. Do you want someone serving life in prison on your dime for growing weed in their backyard?

The conservative, limited government answer is NO.

I supported Rand Paul both in his presidential run and his Senate re-election because I believe he is right on crime. He has a massive platform to articulate how fiscally responsible it is to reevaluate how we’re running the criminal justice system. He joins Senator Mike Lee and Congressmen Justin Amash and Thomas Massie in a quest to change the mentality surrounding the correctional system in America. Surprisingly, I stood with President Obama as he reduced the sentences of nonviolent drug offenders who had already served out the minimum sentences, something that’s far too often considered taboo for conservatives…for no good reason.

The justice system doesn’t have to just be about punishment, and it can include reform and rehabilitation. It should never be about politics, partisanship, or profit.

Organizations like FreedomWorks, Families Against Mandatory Minimums, Americans for Tax Reform, the Center for American Progress, Right on Crime, and the Faith & Freedom Coalition, are illustrating that political ideologies across the political spectrum can see rewards in justice reform and benefits to our communities. We, The People, just have to open our minds to it and allow our elected officials to cross party lines to work together.

The Angry Mob.

I’ve lived in Georgia since I was old enough to have an opinion. That means just about every opinion I’ve ever had has been formulated based on circumstances and influences of my peachy roots. Just recently, I was pressed with the question of whether I was part of the angry mob that’s tanking everything good in politics or just a subject of their shenanigans. I realized that at one point I was, but I have long grown out of that.

I’ve made a career out of saying and doing things that are unpopular. Speaking truths FullSizeRender (22)when they didn’t want to be heard or even when they were deemed inappropriate. It’s been a journey that has gone over mostly well across the state as I’ve worked in politics and established a writing portfolio. I’ve watched as the general public becomes more angry and disenfranchised with the government and the political system as a whole. My career of off-the-cuff thoughts and tidbits usually places me in the category of “unpopular” thinking, and I’ve come to terms with that.

But just because something is unpopular, doesn’t make it any less true and that’s why an angry mob is dangerous.

I’ve been faced with the challenge that every time I write an article or a column, I’m starting from scratch. I must assume that no one knows who I am, where my heart is, or the consistency I have demonstrated over the last 5 years in my writing. I can’t fault people for their lack of knowledge in that territory -it is my responsibility to articulate my thoughts and beliefs on paper without invoking too much emotion or heart. But the lack of emotion ticks off the angry mob and invokes a new emotion-based campaign that is a complete and utter derailment…and it happens nearly every single time.

If you think I’m talking about Donald Trump supporters, you’re sort of right. I am. But it goes so much deeper than that. This trickles down to our state and local governments, too. It has penetrated every aspect of discussion of politics and religion, or the lack thereof.  This is personal because I’m seeing what it’s harming.

The emotional campaigns spread like wildfire because humans have hearts and humans thrive off of drama, not fact. The emotion and the drama culminate into a volcano of rage, grudges, and vendettas and begins formulating in pockets and factions in communities across the country. Soon enough, the angry mob forms.

The angry mob can be two people, two hundred people, or two million people. The angry mob can, and has, included elected officials. The number or profession of people in the mob isn’t as important as the M.O. of the mob.

You see, the angry mob doesn’t listen. They won’t hear reason and they won’t allow justification. The angry mob is incapable of understanding that a “different” opinion doesn’t mean a “wrong” opinion. The angry mob has emotion cycling through the rudder so fast that everything else is just noise.  

The angry mob chastises those who are offended by everything from Indian rituals to confederate memorials and atheist thoughts, but is the first to say the opinion of someone else is offensive to them. The angry mob shouts at the TV because the mainstream media  is feeding them lies. This same angry mob praises social media and alternative media outlets for offering a different perspective – when they share that perspective.

The angry mob is selective in their battles in the sense that they do what is politically or professionally expedient. They may stand for transparency in one instance, but back down when the controversy turns a corner or spreads because they may know someone, they may have a vested interest or one of dozens of other reasons, but the angry mob is not consistent. The angry mob wants the lights shone on their neighbors so long as that light doesn’t cross the property line. The angry mob, mistakenly, protects their own and nearly always finds someone else to lynch.

The angry mob sends “anonymous” emails late at night, harasses people they don’t know on social media, has to apologize for the nasty things they said behind a computer screen when the time comes to meet in person, and uses the Internet as a crutch to say they’re doing something and affecting change. But they are not.

The angry mob says they want transparency, change, hope, freedom, consistency, openness, accountability, and every other buzz word. They do…until it’s their town, their issue, their industry, or their guy. They do until the tables are turned and the mirror reflects the reality that, just like everyone else, they are imperfect.

In reality, the angry mob want clouds and baby photos. They want Instagram shots of champagne, fancy shoes and delicious dinners. The angry mob isn’t ready for anything better because better requires discomfort before pleasure.

The angry mob doesn’t show up when it counts or when it hurts. The angry mob is a group of hypocritical Monday morning quarterbacks who won’t fill the stands in the rain. The angry mob runs off of emotion alone and never offers a solution. The angry mob establishes a villain in every story. The angry mob lobs bombs because it’s the only way to retaliate for hurt feelings.

The angry mob is destroying us because they’re silencing the very truth they’re demanding.