There have been numerous comparisons this week to the General Assembly this week to that of a frat house. One would have to wonder with so many running on a platform of “Christian Values” if they actually thought GOD was Gamma Omicron Delta. This environment was crystallized for me when I was talking to one legislator, when I asked him what we were missing in our reports at Peach Pundit.
He strongly suggested that I take a look at who is leaving the legislature. He said the Melvin Eversons, The Tom Graves, The Austin Scotts, and the Jeff Chapmans of the world aren’t the ones running around on their wives, and they’re not the ones selling out to lobbyists with the highest bundled contributions or wearing the shortest skirts. Frankly, he told me, they were just getting fed up with it.
He said there are many who are sick and tired of working on issues, fighting for the true conservative position, only to have the bill hijacked at the last moment by an attractive lobbyist or one who will bring a $25,000 contribution. It is this culture of institutional arrogance, corruption, and mocking of the values that brought this party to power that must end.
Matthew 16:26 asks us “What good will it be for a man if he gains the whole world, yet forfeits his soul?” I think we have found the answer by looking to our majority in the General Assembly. We have gained absolute power, but forgotten the rallying cry when we were the absolute minority. Absolute power does indeed corrupt absolutely. We can no longer pretend we are better than them. Our leaders are human, and subject to the same temptations that any mortal would be with unbridled and unchecked power. We have certainly lost our way as a party, and are dangerously close to losing our soul.
The glimmer of hope burns from the back benches, and seems to be illuminating among the middle ranks of the House Republican caucus. A backroom deal to quietly transfer powers among the current regime was rejected on its face. There have been two resignations, and there will be an openly contested election for Speaker, Speaker Pro Tem, and Majority Whip.
This is not enough to move us out of the frat house. I would suggest that the members who think they’re in the State’s most exclusive fraternity look across their campus to the nearest military facility for some direction.
West Point, The Air Force Academy, and many other schools have adopted “The Cadet Honor Code” as a requirement for enrollment. Members of Georgia’s General Assembly should do the same. It states:
I will not lie, cheat, or steal, or tolerate those who do.
I’ll re-emphasize the last part, because it is vitally necessary if there is to be a credible change, it can no longer be a fraternity of members who believe they are doing nothing wrong, but work hard at maintaining plausible deniability for the actions of their peers. Republican election officials must no longer tolerate those who do.
When announcing his assumption of power, Mark Burkhalter told the AJC that the Republicans have an image problem. I beg to differ. We have an actual problem, because we have tolerated those who do.
We have leaders who have both participated in scandal, and those who have stood by and tolerated those who do. In doing so, they now lack the moral authority to lead this caucus and this House.
Jerry Keen has not been implicated in either a personal or legislative scandal. But he has tolerated those who have been. As an active member of this leadership team, he must also bear the burden of responsibility for things getting this far out of control.
In order for the caucus to heal, in order for the caucus to lead during an upcoming legislative session, and in order for Republicans to regain a moral authority to govern according to principles they claim to represent, Jerry Keen must either step down, or be removed by his peers.