inexperienced fruitcakes

Eventually, if you elect enough kooks and weirdos to the General Assembly, don’t you figure by the time they find their way around the State Capitol, that they might, just might, introduce some crazy legislation?

It’s impossible to lay blame at any one door. However, these days in Georgia we have many more Republican legislators than Democrats in the 2016 session. (The GOP dominates the Senate 39-17; in the House, there are 118 Republicans; 60 Democrats; one independent; and one vacancy.) When we had Democrats in charge in Georgia, there were more oddball and woeful legislators in the Democratic Party. Today it is just reversed.

Few (if any) Georgia Republicans are liberal, and a good many may be moderate. Many of the GOP elected officials are conservatives, some in the far right wing, of their party. Some even cozy up to the Tea Party.

It’s from the far right wing that a politically opportunistic sideshow has emerged. Few who belong to this new element could be deemed “statesmen” in any day.

These elected officials aren’t very interested in tackling real major issues of the day. They are much more thinking of making a name for themselves. They do this by introducing legislative subjects that few people think are needed. And in doing so, Georgia gets a black eye for its far-right posturing.

Legislatures in several states have seen measures affecting the following topics introduced in the last few years. They include:

  • Voter suppression, such as cutting back on early voting, pushing for voter identification laws, roadblocking voter registration; and residency restrictions.
  • Reducing or eliminating state income taxes.
  • Blocking paid sick leave.
  • Attacking efforts to raise the minimum wage.
  • Reducing or taking down renewable energy standards.

These measures are too far sophisticated to come from these inexperienced, fruitcake legislators who are pushing for them. They are what the right-wing American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) is promoting.

As the nation’s statehouses have moved toward Republican majorities in recent years, ALEC has been behind much of this super-conservative legislation. To see such proposals introduced in state after state, you have to realize that there is a central, very conservative think-tank, giving these legislators the words to use, sometimes literally.

Perhaps this explains recent news. Did most Georgians really think that our state needs the law on religious liberty?  Have these people not read the 46 words of the First Amendment, which imposes no restriction on religion?  The prime person pushing this bit of tomfoolery is Sen. Josh McKoon (R-Columbus). We owe it to him that our state came under the spotlight after the Legislature passed the religious liberty bill. Happily, Gov. Nathan Deal vetoed it.

But watch out. These legislators are not going away easily. They’ll be seeking to embarrass Georgia again by introducing this un-needed, phony issue in the next session.

As one has said, “When bad leadership arrives, it stays and stays and stays.” (Does this speak to term limits?)

How sad! Georgia and the rest of the nation is under fire from the extreme right wing in controlling much of what our statehouses are considering these days.

It happens any time any one political party completely controls any government. What we need is to have two strong parties in a near-balance of power, both carefully watching the other. When that happens, government will find itself more reasonable, more efficient, and also probably more honest.

We look forward to that day, but don’t see it coming real soon. It may test our patience.

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Editor's Note: This story first posted at the Gwinnett Forum.
Elliott Brack

Elliott Brack

Elliott Brack is a native Georgian and veteran newspaperman. He published the weekly Wayne County Press for 12 years; was for 13 years the vice president and general manager of Gwinnett Daily News, and for 13 years was associate publisher of the Gwinnett section of The Atlanta Journal and Constitution. He now publishes, in retirement, Web sites on Gwinnett County, http://www.gwinnettforum.com, and Georgia news, http://www.georgiaclips.com.