Tag Archives: #gapol

“I’m Sorry I Raised Your Taxes”

We’ve all heard about it by now. Georgia House Speaker David Ralston plans to introduce the “Pastor’s Protection Act” during the next legislative session.

Let’s call a spade a spade. This is actually the Legislator’s Protection Act. Don’t be fooled, people. This is an apology, an olive branch, a caucus career saver, the “I’m sorry I ran over your dog” bouquet of flowers. The ice pack the punk offers you after slugging you in the jaw.

The same man who spent two sessions making sure the religious liberty bills never hit the House floor for a vote now wants to swoop in Cavalia style with a unicorn horn to the tune of Flash! by Queen and introduce this bill to appease a very specific group of the Republican electorate. To save the souls of the Republicans who went out on a limb to appease him and the Governor this spring.

Forget about Representative Sam Teasley and Senator Josh McKoon. Forget about the Faith and Freedom Coalition, the various groups of united religious denominations, and any Georgian of faith

You can close your jaw. I’m telling the truth. I know I’m telling the truth because folks on both sides of the issue will admit this is the least necessary aspect of the religious liberty controversy. It would only apply to clergy. Not churches. Not businesses. It wouldn’t do much. This is an easy way out for a feel good bill.

While this certainly isn’t a religious liberty bill, the issues have the same roots. This initiative comes on the heels of the Supreme Court decision that has the far religious right up in arms. The same religious right that was mortified by the legislative priority list for the General Assembly last session, what with the taxes, the expanded government, the strippers. The same religious right that turns out election after election. Religious liberty is a hot button issue that will be at every candidate forum come spring 2016.

And the truth is that Republicans who voted in favor of the $900 million tax increase for transportation faced heat at home. (Unless they quit or took an appointment.) Constituents are angry, the grassroots and Tea Party folks are still nailing them to the wall and when polls came out illustrating that voters overwhelmingly didn’t care for the tax, it was clear that the Republican caucus needed a plan.

The truth is that there are plenty of people who would appear more qualified and genuine carrying a bill like this. But it isn’t about that. It’s about an agenda. An agenda that will protect a a particular group of the caucus.

It isn’t supposed to be about who gets the credit. It’s supposed to be about quality legislation and doing the right thing. And if that means Ralston carries this bill, so be it.

But this, this is why people hate politics. It’s manipulative, calculated, and disingenuous. It’s everything they say it is and more. And worse. And then the voters have to make a decision. What is our priority when we head to the ballot box? Civil liberties? Or lower taxes? Because only some Republican districts get representatives with both.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

Context.

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

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

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

politic

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Yay?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

So I Voted on Saturday…

LibertyVotingPants

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

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

So, with that…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

hudgens.elevator

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

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

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

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

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

Proposed Constitutional Amendments

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

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

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

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

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

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Why I Can’t Care About My Vote

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Worst Thing About People in Politics…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Why the Christian Right is Wrong on Religious Liberty

Religious Liberty

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

So to sum up:

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

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

Setting the Record Straight

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

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(Photo from AJC)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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(Photo WN.com)

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?