Today’s Courier Herald Column:
Sometimes, the news cycles converge in such a way that paradoxes are revealed in a manner that talking points on issues are reversed depending on which argument a person is trying to make. At such times, real agendas and allegiances are much more easily determined by searching for common denominators.
On Monday evening, with Republican grassroots leaders still smarting over the dressing down given by David Ralston over ethics reform at Friday’s state Convention in Columbus, a poll from the Republican affiliated Rosetta Stone polling group revealed that there is a major partisan split in the Atlanta region’s support for T-SPLOST.
The poll revealed that Democrats in the Atlanta region support the T-SPLOST overwhelmingly, while Republicans outside of Fulton and DeKalb Counties are vehemently opposed to the measure. 62.7% of Republicans polled are opposed to the measure, while only 27.8% support. The numbers for Democrats are almost the inverse.
A poll released by the group funding the advertising campaign to pass T-SPLOST countered on Tuesday showing slightly more support overall, but also demonstrated a similar split among the inner core of Atlanta and those in the surrounding region. These results are similar to internal polls conducted a year ago but not made public, demonstrating that elected officials should not be “shocked” to learn that if the amount of sales taxes Atlanta region residents pay increases by 16%, (based on current tax rates of 6% in most counties) it will be done so with Democrats doing the heavy lifting.
Contrast this major initiative for tax increases with the comments of Speaker Ralston regarding who was really behind the push for ethics reform. Ralston warned those at the Republican convention that those who were demanding $100 gift caps on lobbyist expenses were aligning themselves with “media elites and liberal special interest groups.”
The message was not too subtle. If you want to remain a Republican in good standing with those in positions of power, you don’t want to be pushing for ethics reform. Otherwise, you will be branded an undesirable subversive type. Good Republicans should know when to shut up.
On the matter of raising taxes, however, Republicans are clearly aligned with elite media and liberal groups. The Cox Communications juggernaut of Atlanta media has formed an “Atanta Forward” campaign to promote the initiative across their newspaper, TV, and radio properties. Various in-town traditionally Democratic groups and elected officials are pulling out the stops to get out the vote for a July vote that will otherwise have little incentive for Democrats to come to the ballot box.
Republicans who have signed pledges for no new taxes have found friends in traditional Democratic opponents who are more than willing to assist in closing the deal against the opinions of the Republican base that elected the current leadership. There is no admonition to avoid associating with elite media or liberal special interest groups with respect to T-SPLOST. These associations are, after all, the only way this tax increase will get done.
And so, with such a contrasting message of the demand that good Republicans distance themselves from elite media and Liberals on Saturday, but evidence that both groups are needed to pass Republican leadership’s agenda on Monday, a common denominator must be found. As usual, it is not hard. This is a Georgia Government that is now run by – and accountable to – well heeled and well connected insiders.
Gift caps cannot be instituted despite Georgia being only one of three states without them. It is quite literally the currency of Georgia government, reciprocated by legislation favoring the insiders.
The grassroots have been reduced to window dressing for the party. Leaders continue to do the bidding of those who have purchased influence to establish “relationships” in the vernacular of the Gold Dome. Party activists are told not to worry their pretty little heads about such things, as they’re in good hands.
When those who are connected want stadiums, road projects, or other gifts from the legislature, they are branded “good corporate citizens” and the justification for all gratuities given is “jobs!”. When an attempt to balance the power of the individual voter against the connected insiders is presented, the warning given is to avoid unseemly association with the opposition.
Some days elite media and liberals are needed, and other days they are to be avoided. If in doubt and unable to reach your elected officials for further instruction, there is but one sure fire method of deciding which day it is. Follow the money.