Monday, December 30, 2013

Don't Give Up On The "OTHER" Georgia!

If liberal Georgia Democrats are serious about rebuilding the State Party and the coalitions they enjoyed during their success, they will have to figure out a way to recapture rural affections of Rural Georgians. These have been fading for some time  starting in 2002 when powerful House Speaker Thomas Murphy and then gov. Roy Barnes lost re-election and that's when the Democratic Party began staking its life and its fortune on the urban vote.

There was a time, of course, when rural Georgia and the Democrats were virtually the same thing. But over time, Democrats became more urbanized and rural people became Republicanized, due to the lack of a field team or "bench" of candidate to run in districts that was once held by dems for 20,30 years and that was all right with the Democrats. So long as cities were thriving and their political machines were humming, it seem possible that Georgia Democrats could win statewide elections without benefit of rural support. But as it turned out, they are 0 for 3 (2002, 2006, 2010)

But a new dynamic is occuring...New demographic patterns have altered the math. With the large influx of Black, Hispanic and Young professionals moving into the state, and population shifting from Rural Ga to North G, the rural sectoe is shrinking and the Metro Area of Atlanta is growing...and growing....and growing.  But despite those trends, democrats here in Georgia from the Young Democrats to Rank and file democrats are making a grave mistake in complete seceding the Gnat Line voters to the GOP because they tend to lean conservative and independent who doesn't see eye to eye with National Democrats and its increasing left-wing philosophy.

Certainly liberals here in Georgia will have to show more sensitivity to rural needs than they have displayed. To begin with, they might re-examine the common assumption that rural Georgia exists solely for the convenience of city people and suburbanites, as a dispenser of rest and recreation

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Diagnosing Democrats Problems In Georgia And Why They Continue To Lose

I'm not what you call a die-in-the-wool liberal demorat, nor an "Obamacrat". I never served on any democratic committees. I once served as chairman of my local democratic party (Temporarily). I reside in Small Town, Rural Georgia, where most democrats are far different than those in the urban areas of the state, socially conservative, fiscally responsible, economically moderate. Having said that, I know (and I'm not being cocky here)......I know why democrats haven't been able to win in this state over the past decade, or why democrats in the legislature have a hard time recruiting canddiates. And I don't need graphs, a 20 page thesis or political scholars to tell me why democrats have such a hard time winning. 

For starters, let's start with candidate recruitment. Liberal, progressive, (whichever you wanna call it) candidates works in areas that are heavily diverse with voters who are center-left. But they will not work in areas that are not as diverse where voters are center-right/independent.  The quality of candidates democratic leaders have found and supported have been abysmal. Ideology is another factor. Black and White Bluedog Democrats are met with suspicion nowadays within the party mainly because of the recent party switchers the have endured over a 5-6 year period. But I'm here to tell you, without them, democrats will NEVER sniff the possibilty of being the majority least in my lifetime. 

In recruiting candidates, you must find that person who's background fits within that State Senatorial or House District. What's the median income of that district, the racial makeup, the voting tendencies, what issues resonate with the voters of that district because let's face it, all districts do not have the same problem. If a district have a high number of Social Conservatives, then you need a candidate who's not afraid to talk about his/her religion or if it's a area high in poverty and lack jobs, you need a person with a extensive background in business who can articulate the problems facing the area and then can come up with a solution to the district's problems.

Or if its a district that haven't elected a democrat in years (locally and legislatively) then you need to recruit someone who have a ability to appeal cross party lines and someone who's not afraid to disgree with the party on issues that maybe out of step with the voters of the district.

And the overly majority black districts, the reason these types of districts were created in the first place was to assure the election of black elected officials due to the VRA of 1965, but it came with a heavy price. It severely weakened the democratic party as a result...and I'm going to stop right there! If a candidate happens to be white and running in a majority black district (and I'm speaking from experience)......stop trying to influence a election out of fear of a majority minority district being represented by a white democrat! If the white candidate voted republican in the what? All that matters is who is the better candidate with the better message, who can appeal to the masses, regardless of skin color or gender. The Democratic Party is supposed to be the "BIG TENT PARTY" or so it claims to be. Instead of trying to cut the legs out from up under the white candidate out of fear the majority black district being represented by a non-minority, embrace him/her and let the chips fall where they may, but I know that's wishful thinking especially with the current leadership in the legislature

Now democrats troubles as far as winning can be attributed to a few things: (1) Culture (2) National Democrats (3) Values (4) Unwillingness to court white middle and lower class voters (5) Rural Black Voters

Culture & Values are issues have hounded democrats since the 1970s. Culture is the shared knowledge, behavioral norms, values and beliefs that help people to live in families, groups and communities. It can be defined by religion, work, region, or some other status. For decades National Democrats stances on cultural issues have been detrimental to local democratic candidates. From Gun Control to Gay Marriage, those issues have had a trickle down effect on democrats who don't hold those views and thus these moderate/conservative democrats have to continue to fight back charges of they support gun control or favor marriage between the same sexes.

National Democrats: Like I said, National Democrats are out of step with majority of Georgians and in areas that are not as diverse, less populated and are conservative on social and economic grounds. Now being the realist that I am, democrats cannot not going to win every rural county in Georgia. Some they can definitely win, but the trick is not to lose some of these rural counties so badly which contribute to republican margin of victories in the last few election cycles. The question is how to appeal to rural voters in an election year without the benefit of having a president on the ballot who would spur turnout among democratic base voters of young, minority, college educated suburbanites. But to be successful, democrats should not be so eager to embrace the National Democrats and its politics. Develop your own brand of politics (case in point John Barrow & Joe Manchin)

White Bluecollar Voters: Despite all the talk about demographic changes coming to Georgia, Democrats cannot forget about White Bluecollar Voters. You still need them! Democrats need to win the support of this significant group of voters who are now part of the Republican coalition.  A high number of white working class voters have historic ties with Georgia Democrats, even among those who currently vote Republican. Some have personal memories and others family traditions of past Democratic voting. No comparable connection or previous ideological affinity exists with today’s upper income or other Republican voters. While white workers are overwhelmingly cultural traditionalists they are not all conservatives. Despite the cliches of “conservative white workers” the group is actually divided, depending on the issues, with majorities being “populist” on some issues and conservative on others. So Dems cannot give up on this group and put all their eggs in the basket on minority voters who are not the most reliable bloc of voters out there.

Rural Black Voters are different that those from the Cities. They're no doubt the most socially conservative group of voters in Georgia, they're fiscally discipline, but economically liberal and some, not all, but some support school choice. In courting rural black voters, a candidate must run two campaigns. Word of Mouth (Barbershops, Churches) and the Airwaves. This approach is used everyone, but it is very important in small isolated communities in Rural Georgia

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Medicaid and Rural Georgia: A Political Issue in 2014? You Better Believe It!

It's a program geared toward Rural White, Black, Elderly, and Young Residents who are heavily dependent on the program

With the latest population trends, Medicaid is becoming increasingly important to rural areas, in Georgia. Medicaid is the program that pays for medical services for those too poor to afford their own coverage, and it's funded by a combination of federal and state dollars.

In rural communities, Medicaid has become the only insurer for many people, particularly children, whose parents work at low-wage jobs with no health care coverage. It provides health care services and access to health care for a large number of rural Georgians who probably wouldn't have access to those services otherwise, whose health would suffer because of that. So, from a human perspective, it provides necessary services and access that these populations need.

So my question is why is Governor Nathan Deal and State Insurance Commissioner Ralph Hudgens so opposed to expanding medicaid here in the Peach State.  Sadly these men rather put politics and their party ahead of Georgians those who desperately need some type of coverage.

Medicaid also is an economic engine in rural areas like Wheeler, Echols, Baker, Jenkins Counties, etc and literally keeping some hospitals and clinics open.

Those hospitals and clinics, the backbone of the rural healthcare infrastructure, who are depended so much on Medicaid and Medicare payments that they probably couldn't keep their doors open otherwise. We've already hospitals close in Charlton, Stewart, Habersham and Calhoun County.

Many look at Medicaid as the classic "welfare" program, which it is, but in my view, that isn't the case. It really does provide a necessary benefit and necessary services to working people, what we sometimes refer to as the working poor. 

Those who are dependent on medicaid are: Children, Low-income disabled, Low-income elderly, Low-Income families and Pregnant women.

Medicaid is a critical piece of the rural health care system and the refusal of the governor to expand medicaid and the Insurance Commissioner opposition to the expansion of medicaid will be a campaign issue come 2014.

With Deal facing two GOP challengers and if he's able to escape the primary will face State Senator Jason Carter, a centrist democrat and the grandson of former president Jimmy Carter. 

The one down ballot race that's sure to receive plenty of attention will be Insurance Commissioner Ralph Hudgens, but so far no democrat have announced nor shown any interest in taking on the anti-health incumbent. 

Georgia U.S. Senate Candidate Gerald Beckum (D-Oglethorpe)... A Common-Sense Candidate for Senate

Sunday, December 1, 2013

HD 127 Special Election Runoff is Dec. 3

A runoff election for HD 127 replace the late State Rep. Quincy Murphy will take place tuesday between Diane Evans of Jefferson County and Brian Prince of Augusta.  Prince won 44.61 percent of the votes and Evans 29.57 percent while the widow of Rep. Murphy finished in third place during the first round of voting

Evans, a progressive democrat is a longtime state Democratic party activist who serves as chair of the Jefferson County Democratic party, secretary of the Georgia Association of Democratic County Chairs and member of the state Democratic committee. Prince, a conservative democrat is a retired Lt. Colonel, graduated from Fort Valley State University and the Army Command and General Staff College and recently worked as a consultant for military contractor Booz Allen Hamilton.

Evans supports magnet schools, not charter schools, the ACA, b.k.a. Obamacare and economic development, while Prince wants to improve education, integrating military families in the district and the development of more small businesses

The election will be held on Tuesday Dec. 3

Republican Con Game On Rural Georgia

Why are Rural Areas So wiling to vote Republican when it has much more disadvantages than it's Urban and Suburban counterparts?

Well for starters, let's look at cultural issue. God and Guns are strong issues in rural areas. The Republicans wave these flags relentlessly every two, four years during election time and then put them away until the next election. Then you have to look at farming. Farming is more and more big business, with fewer small family farms. The Republican Party caters to big business, so we will be better off voting republican. Much of the reason for the democrats decline in low populated areas of Georgia can be attributed to the party's trouble of attracting white, working class voters, especially those without a college degree. The party has to realize that have got to include issues for non-college educated whites and blacks. Another reason is that there is more poverty in the larger cities like Albany, so they of course want more government programs and aid. They hear about getting tax cuts and of course they are drawn to that. 

While on the other hand folks like truck driver Marshall Johnson of Uvalda, Ga living in rural areas like Arlington, Nahunta, or Alma who make a decent living, have their money taken away to give to the poor. It's really upsetting if you work your whole life establishing a business and are overtaxed. They deal better with hard times because they are not as materialistic as people in larger urban/suburban cities. I do not think that its all about race in very city, contrary to some people's beliefs. In the rural areas, it's the opposite mentality. They prefer the government to stay away, except when necessary. They don't want the government to have to go to them, but rather they turn to the government only when a time of need.

Let's get one thing straight. both Democrats and Republicans want Big Government, it's just that they want "Big"  in different ways. Democrats....well "Some" Democrats want more social programs that largely serve the elderly, the poor, the unemployed, more money on education, more welfare. Republicans hate social programs, but they are willing to spend massive amounts of $$$ on corporate subsidies, wars, programs that are also biased toward full time. high waged workers and non-minorities. But republicans prefer to gut public education, public television, etc.

And let's not forget philosophical differences. Rural areas are more conservative and find a fit with the republican party over issues like abortion, guns, marriage. But that doesn't mean that they aren't open to voting democrat. Rural areas have reasons for voting republican. The idea that they want "Small Government" is wrong to begin with, they don't want small government, they just want less welfare. Surprisingly, they are big recipients of welfare and the redistribution of cash from urban to rural areas, but too hypocritical to see it/ Another reason why is that Republicans have been very successful at propagating words, like Government Programs are "Dependency", the wealthy are "Job Creators" for example. The Conservative media influences how folks think and to some the language is very compelling. And also those straightforward, gut response to issues like Protect the Unborn!! Eliminate the Income Tax!!! And as a result its hard to mount arguments to this kind of thinking. The ones who fall for this kind of language are poor and less educated who live in disadvantaged areas. It's sad to see so many of our citizens who are living paycheck to paycheck to vote for candidates who's plan only consist of trickle down economics and getting up off the couch.

That's why it is essential for democrats to get back into the rural areas of the state and compete for their votes becuase contrary to what these so called political experts, Rural Georgia is not lost for the democrats. It never was and never will be.

Democrats Caution: Gun Control is a Loser!!!

Michelle Nunn, Jason Carter & others..ARE YOU LISTENING???

When a lawmaker confronts a given issue, it's in their own interest and the interest of their constituency to do a cost-benefit analysis.  Is it worth the fight?  Will there be sufficient policy upside to spending political capital in pursuit of reform on a given issue.  Back in 2009, I didn't think cap and trade was worth the risk. Congressman Sanford Bishop (D-Albany) narrowly escaped with a victory over Mike Keown because of issues such as Cap and Trade.  The public only cares about climate change in the abstract, so if lawmakers were to ask for financial or lifestyle sacrifice from the masses in pursuit of keeping the planet livable for the human race a little longer, it would be far more sacrifice than the public was willing to endure.  And even for those who believe it's worth the political risk to save the planet, how much can be gained when the rest of the globe refuses to play along?

Being a pro-gun democrat, I'm torn on this issue as I believe law-abiding citizens should not be penalized for gun ownership.  On the other hand, the gun rights crowd presents such delusional and unpersuasive arguments on their own behalf, they make themselves impossible to defend.  No sane person's interpretation of the Second Amendment justifies limitless weaponization with no regulations whatsoever.  Still, the gun fetish has consumed the good sense of many millions of Americans, and there will undeniably be political retribution for crossing them.

Would it be worth it for the Democrats to throw away this constituency in which some base their vote entirely on one issue such as guns?  In my mind, it's an unequivocal no, even though I don't disagree with specific legislative goals of toughening background checks.

The majority that supports gun control is a mile wide and an inch deep, and the issue is extremely low intensity for just about everybody on the gun control side of the persuasion.  But when it comes to the gun rights crowd, there is no higher priority in life for them than firearms lawlessness.  And the lopsided intensity on the side of the gun rights crowd means huge financial contributions to gun-rights candidates and special interests, along with a full-throttle turnout at the polls in future election cycles by people convinced ATF agents will soon be going door to door to take away their hunting rifles. And like it or not, gun rights advocates do a terrific job at turning out at the polls during election time because they are passionate about the right to bear arms and so am I.

Millions of voters who would be receptive to the Democrats' message on saving Social Security and Medicare, or on pressuring the business community to reverse decades of wage and benefit declines amidst an increasingly stratified income disparity in this country, will tune all of that out and hitch their wagon to those shouting the loudest about guns and that is also another fact!
This is a Rural Blog that provides views & insights from a Conservative Georgia Democrat

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