Georgia Republicans Wilderness Bound? – Commentary by Steve Scroggins
A column published in Friday’s Macon Telegraph by Macon City Councilman Erick
Erickson expressed the opinion that Georgia’s Republican “leadership” is forging its way into another extended
camping trip in the minority wilderness perhaps never to return to the Promised Land for decades. History
suggests that Mr. Erickson is right.
Prior to 2003, Georgia had no Republican governor since the 1870s and prior to
2005, the Georgia General Assembly was dominated by Democrats for the same period. In the U.S. Congress,
Democrats held a majority in the House for 40 years before 1994. Republican party elites have a habit of squandering
their opportunities to show leadership and to demonstrate conservative principles. As Davis and others have
written, there are and have been
between “Republicans” and “conservatives.”
We and others have been writing for some time on the theme of
systemic leadership failure
from both major parties. Both major parties have failed the American citizenry at the state and national levels.
Sheldon Richman, in his commentary entitled
Blame the Republicans for Big Government,
writes “The Republicans’ cynicism and lack of principle are as responsible for what’s going on as any Democrat’s —
even more, because they have undermined sound economic reasoning by their hypocrisy.” Michael Tennant, in his
Socialism, Republican Style,
writes, “One could probably make a list ten times as long of all the socialist institutions supported by the very
same Republicans who now pose as defenders of capitalism. They are correct that Obama’s plans are socialist in
nature, but they fail to see – or conveniently forget – that they, too, are guilty of giving America a huge push
down the slope of socialism.”
What happened to the “Contract With America?” Remember that from 1994? The Republicans
could have done better with the "Contract" but they effectively checked Clinton in the late 1990s. They quickly
squandered their opportunities to implement conservative ideas during the Bush years. The GOP Congress with Bush
brought us “Compassionate Conservatism”
which we now understand means to spend money like drunken sailors (with apologies to sailors since they spend
THEIR OWN money rather than taxpayer’s) and to expand Big Government programs.
On the state level, which is where the majority of the domestic governing should
happen (per the disregarded Constitution), we have a similar pattern of hypocrisy and leadership failure.
Gov. Sonny Perdue campaigned in 2002 promising to address Georgia’s education
problems, to give Georgia citizens a fair vote on their state flag and to pass meaningful ethics reform. He promised
to be more of a consensus peacemaker than King Rat Roy Barnes. The result?
still ranks in the cellar on education despite the best manipulation of the test numbers and the test participants.
Perdue has managed to alienate teachers as badly as Barnes whether the state
had a budget surplus or was tightening with budget cuts.
Before the election, there were only two state flags known to voters: The
Barnes flag (2001), also known as “the ugliest flag in North America,” and the 1956 flag. After the election,
Perdue sold out and withheld a vote for the popular 1956 flag, offering instead a previously unknown backroom deal
flag. That bait and switch led to the widespread presence of
SONNY LIED signs and bumper stickers. He betrayed the voters who put him over the top in 2002. Though denied by Perdue
and his parrot posse, the widely held belief was that the flag issue defeated Barnes. The Kennedy "Profiles in
Courage" award Roy Barnes accepted stands as testimony to his agreement with that widely held belief. Perdue's
betrayal of those voters bore the fingerprints of Republican elite strategists like Karl Rove, Ralph Reed and a few
just putting those two words in the same sentence evokes giggles and belly-laughs. So much for
We have been pointing out since 2005 that the Georgia Republicans wasted no time
entrenching themselves in the seat of power with an aim to maintaining their power and the status quo. The
people wanted was ignored while Georgia Republicans concerned themselves with posturing and fundraising for
re-election and enriching themselves.
“Honest Glenn” Richardson
immediately changed House rules
to enable him to dominate the legislative Committee process. For our parodies of Honest Glenn, we chose as his
theme music the Rolling Stones' “Under My Thumb.” Richardson became known as the
“New Sheriff In Town”
and if you wanted anything done, you had to pony up to Honest Glenn’s favorite PAC (political action committee)
first. The Panhandlers of Atlanta
descended on the Capitol to wrestle their way to the taxpayer treasure trough. After a year of the GOP General Assembly,
we pointed out in 2006 that
was basically the same whether Donkeys or Elephants were in change. Either
way, the taxpayers and voters ended up holding the bag.
As we noted in a
the business climate in 2005 for real estate
developers and other favored special interests changed significantly. Suddenly Georgia citizens were alarmed to
learn that the General Assembly was favorably considering various Land Grab bills (eminent domain) and
to circumvent Sunshine Laws. Shady Sonny’s
called for no sunshine.
Notorious hypocrite conman and lobbyist influence peddler
was at first a
leading Republican contender for Lt. Governor in 2006. His campaign crashed and burned as his sleazy associations
remained highly visible in the national news. Eventually, avoiding “Ruthless” Ralph Reed became the
serious ethics reform
at the Georgia capitol. Give Republican primary voters credit for rejecting this obvious crook.
We know that Gov. Sonny Perdue was really busy during his first term putting together
land deals, engineering special
tax cuts for himself and operating his personal businesses which he refused to turn over to a blind trust while
he sat as governor ---as his predecessors did to avoid the appearance of conflicts. Perdue’s net worth almost
doubled in the first three years he was in office.
During his re-election campaign, Perdue advertised the farce of his “SONNY DO”
list. We suspect that arranging
huge undersecured loans
from local banks, punishing legislative opponents and haggling over budget cuts have kept him so busy that he’ll
leave office with much of the SONNY DO list incomplete. I don't think anyone took it seriously anyway.
In the 2009 session, Senate Resolution 452 was proposed to have the Georgia Revenue
commissioner report to the Georgia Senate any Senator who has tax delinquencies (fails to file or pay taxes).
Here was a Republican opportunity to lead on ethics concerns. Obviously, you already know or can guess what
they did. The Resolution was defeated. I recently wrote a commentary entitled
Gold Dome Deadbeats & S.R. 452
with all the gory details. Corruption has become routine. At least 22 unnamed members of the Georgia General
Assembly are delinquent in their tax filing or paying...yet the Republican powers that be won’t let the public
know who they are. The Macon Telegraph reported that two of them are Sen. Robert Brown (D, Macon) and Rep. Willie
Talton (R, Warner Robins).
Special interests continue to rule in 2009. The
Ratepayer Ripoff bill, also known as Senate Bill 31, passed the General Assembly and awaits the Governor’s
signature. If it becomes law, this
will pay big for Southern Company stockholders, out of state electric
customers and non-residential ratepayers.
The Big Losers are Georgia residential ratepayers. Obama’s proposed Cap & Trade
bills and other energy proposals are likely to drive up electric bills significantly, as much as 40% or more.
Economic hard times are upon us and Georgia’s General Assembly, controlled by Republicans, thinks that now is
a good time to let Georgia Power grab more money from the people to fund future electric capacity, much of which
will be sold out of state. The saddle feels rather tight to me...and I'm really dreading the quirt and the spurs.
The sad, pathetic truth is that we, the people, have been betrayed. Neither major
party represents the people first; both have their preferred special interest constituencies they work to please
first. The major difference is that with Democrats, a large part of their base believes in class warfare and
wants the government to steal on their behalf. They believe in Government as Robinhood whose job it is
to rob from "the rich" and give to the poor. Democrat elites just want to keep dependents down on the plantation where
their votes can be harvested.
Democrat politicians are relatively honest lying thieves who hide their theft plans in
euphemisms, tortured logic and emotional populism. Republican politicians, on the other hand, are lying hypocrite
thieves who pretend opposition to theft, but
who dive in and steal with best of their Democrat colleagues. Republicans politicians have to be better liars.
"Party knows no impulse but spirit, no prize but victory. It is blind to truth, and hardened against conviction.
It seeks to justify error by perserverance, and denies to its own mind the operation of its own judgment. A man
under the tyranny of party spirit is the greatest slave upon earth, for none but himself can deprive him of the
freedom of thought." ---THOMAS PAINE, "To the Opposers of the Bank", 1787
With Republicans, their voter base is people who want less government, less taxes and
less intrusion of government in our daily lives. Those people won’t stand for lies and hypocrisy for very
long. Nationally, they stayed
home or voted Democrat in disgust in 2006 and in 2008 to allow the Democrat majority to seize the reigns of
power in the U.S. Congress. Given the betrayal, lies and hypocrisy here in Georgia, given the total sellout
of conservative principles, it’s very likely that Georgia Republican politicians will be banished to the
minority wilderness once again.
The only thing that might save them is total disgust with Obama and his merry band
of incompetents and looters in D.C. Fear of Obama’s socialist surge just might, maybe, enable the Republicans to hold power
here in Georgia. All conservatives recoil at plundering Democrats, but are there enough conservative voters left
who can stomach Republican lies and hypocrisy?
Another factor is ballot access. As long as the Democrats and Republicans maintain their monopoly
stranglehold on the ballot process in Georgia and third parties are effectively shut out, Republicrat chameleons can
choose their label according to whichever party is ascendant. The results will be the same either way.
Former Governor and U.S. Senator Zell Miller wrote a book entitled A National Party No
More - Conscience of a Conservative Democrat. Former U.S. Senator Barry Goldwater authored several books including
With No Apologies and The Conscience of a Conservative. Rep. Ron Paul represents the last true
constitutionalist and conservative in Congress, and he's clearly not "at home" in the Republican Party. His book,
The Revolution: A Manifesto reflects the ideas of Goldwater and Reagan and no longer fits in with Republican
style policy and certainly not "Compassionate Conservatism" as the last decade has demonstrated its meaning.
Perhaps it's time for a Republican to pen the final epitaph for a party that had melded
with the Big Government Democrats. What should the book be titled? Republican Without a Conscience: Free at Last ?
How about Republican Without a Principle - Notes from the Abyss ? Or perhaps Republican, Democrat, What's
the Difference ?
Author Frank Conner writes that there are no longer two parties, they are more accurately
described as two wings of the same Big Government party, both owned and operated by multi-national corporations and
special interests. It's time for some new parties faithful to their principles to emerge. The Republicans and Democrats will
go the way of the Whigs, the Federalists and the Communist Parties and be absorbed into those new parties.
As George Wallace once said of the two major parties, "There's not a dimes worth of
difference." In terms of end results and allowing for inflation, a penny's worth would be an overstatement.
"Under democracy one party always devotes its chief energies
to trying to prove that the other party is unfit to rule --
and both commonly succeed, and are right." --H.L. Mencken
"I have no problem with free elections for candidates which the party has selected."
"All tyranny needs to gain a foothold is for people of good conscience to remain silent." --Thomas Jefferson
"I am not a Federalist, because I never submitted the whole system of my opinions to the creed of any party of
men whatever in religion, in philosophy, in politics, or in any thing else where I was capable of thinking for
myself. Such as addiction is the last degradation of a free and moral agent. If I could not go to heaven but
with a party, I would not go there at all." ---THOMAS JEFFERSON, to Francis Hopkinson, March 13, 1789
Macon.com - The Macon Telegraph
You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to see the dynamics in play
throughout Georgia. The Republican Party, having only fully taken over the state four years ago, is already
in a rut. Having failed to keep innovating and advancing a conservative agenda, they have become establishmentarians
determined to hold on to the status quo, much as Georgia Democrats did before losing power.
Substantive reforms have been pushed aside in favor of rewarding preferred
groups and pushing individual legislators’ pet projects. There is no compelling narrative to justify a hold on
power. There are, however, awkward deals on budgets, fly by night tax proposals, and a failure to take tough
stands on tough issues lest voters get upset. Likewise, there is an appreciation that the GOP will not actually
lose control of the legislature due to redistricting, so the Republicans see no need for boldness or risk.
In short, there is no leadership. Surprisingly for those of us who follow
the goings on in Atlanta, the best leader this year has been Glenn Richardson, a man I have been a frequent critic
of. Casey Cagle, the lieutenant governor, is angling to be governor, which requires he make no new enemies. Gov.
Perdue is absent from leadership, as is his habit when the legislature meets. The result is chaos without message
and terrible PR.
More troubling is what’s on the horizon. While absent leadership now,
in 2010, unless something changes, the Republicans will be without a leader. Former Gov. Roy Barnes is running.
He says he is not. Believe you me, he is. Too many of his fundraisers tell me of too many meetings, plans and
preparations to think otherwise. Here is what he sees.
The Republicans will have a crowded field. Austin Somebody from South
Georgia will run. John Oxendine will until he does not. Cagle will run. My preferred candidate, Karen Handel,
will run. Congressman Jack Kingston is flirting with running. Surely a Cobb County Commissioner of something
will run. They will bloody each other up badly, spending millions of dollars for the Republican nomination.
Of the three who could get the nomination, Handel, Cagle and Kingston,
both Handel and Cagle lack college degrees. That is all well and good for their present positions, but something
in voters’ minds registers that a college education is, to quote Rod Blagojevich, “a . . . valuable thing.”
Being the 69th most influential conservative in America, I have a rolodex
full of friends who are pollsters — good ones, not college kids with phone banks. They, both Democrat and
Republican, tell me that all things being equal, not having a college degree will most likely cost a gubernatorial
candidate the white, upper income voters in metro Atlanta and suburban areas around the state.
It is precisely those votes a gubernatorial candidate needs to win. Those
votes will go with the Democrat in 2010. Roy Barnes knows this.
Allegedly, the Democrats will have a contested gubernatorial primary. I
think that is unlikely by the time qualifying gets here. Not only is it not likely, it is probable the Democrats
will have a unified slate of state-wide office holders. They cannot find anyone to run against Johnny Isakson, but
they will find someone to run for every other statewide office.
Beyond the bloody primary and the college degree issues, there is another
troubling problem the Republicans will have to face — a lack of bold ideas.
Sonny Perdue has had few in his eight years that remain at the forefront
of people’s minds. Meanwhile, we all know about Zell Miller’s accomplishments and even some of Roy Barnes’
initiatives. The Republican candidate will not just be running on his or her own resume, but on what the
present Republicans have done. And lately, they haven’t done much worth bragging about.
Erick Erickson is a Macon city councilman.
Senator Jackson is Wrong -- Savannah Now
Senate Resolution 452
Tax evasion is now commonplace corruption -- Bill Shipp 3/10/09
Cagle tells Senate Republicans that tax ethics bill was a mistake -- AJC 3/6/09
A volatile debate over taxes in the Senate -- AJC 3/5/09
Legislators want peers to pay up -- AJC 3/4/09
Connecting dots on Sonny’s Land Deals & Tax Breaks -- Steve Scroggins
Georgia Challenges Louisiana As Corruption Leader -- J.A. Davis & Steve Scroggins
Eric Johnson, architech of heritage destruction -- Randy Phillips
Eric Johnson: Brazen Hypocrite and Political Opportunist -- Steve Scroggins
Slavery Apologies, an absurd guilt-trip gesture -- Steve Scroggins
Apology & Reparations Express -- X-Files
'Perdue Ethics' a big joke in Georgia -- X-Files
Gon'Need Taxbreaks, Friend -- X-Files
Steve Scroggins lives in Macon and contributes most of GHC's parody
and political cartoons and graphics.