Today’s Courier Herald Column:
There is something to be said for being a genuine original. Authentic. All natural.
Georgia’s identity as the Peach State underscores the beauty that is a fresh peach. Picked ripe and in season, there is no better delicacy. But created in a lab as a synthetic flavor to market an otherwise unrelated product, artificial peach products are a disgusting fraud upon the palate. Think about a peach Jolly Rancher candy if you’re having trouble with this point.
When I was in middle school I spent two weeks in bed with both strep throat and pneumonia. It was “unpleasant”. I went a few days without wanting any food (which is how my parents knew I was really sick) until one day I wanted only one thing: Breyers Peach Ice Cream.
I was not quite old enough to be a brand snob (and we were very much a “generic” family), so I was questioned on why I needed Breyers brand peach ice cream. It was simple. In the days before Haagen Dazs and Ben & Jerry’s, Breyers was the “all natural”, premium ice cream. I did not want the first thing I was able to eat to be some orange-ish dyed fake peach menace. Breyers would ensure the real thing.
Dad understood his mission and left. He was gone for a long time. Too long, actually. I just assumed he decided to run other errands, and even when he eventually returned it took forever before my ice cream appeared. But it was…different, somehow. I just assumed my taste buds were a bit off, but it was more than that. Mom told me weeks later what had happened.
Dad went to 5 grocery stores in three separate towns. He was that kind of guy. None of my ice cream was to be had. He finally decided he would buy Breyers vanilla, some peaches, and mixed them together upon returning home. He did his best. At least there was no orange food coloring involved.
Here in modern day Georgia, we have some coloring over underway in the political landscape. For decades in the Deep South, social conservatives ran the GOP. They were unquestioned and held a virtual veto over any major decision – campaign or legislative – that occurred under the Republican brand.
Over time, social conservative leaders couldn’t decide exactly how to stay on the same page. Too many substituted their own opinions for God’s will, and refused to tolerate dissent in their ranks. Once mighty organizations balkanized into many factions and splinter groups. Public scandals of leaders, members and politicians they had proudly pronounced “true Christians” damaged their brands. Others sold their influence to unsavory gambling and other interests. Fiscal conservatism was an afterthought, if thought of at all, while social conservatives rose to total power – and then many crashed mightily.
2010 brought the resurrection of the Republican party on the backs of the TEA Party. Taxed Enough Already, Republicans united around a simple slogan that represented one core value of limited Government. Some of the original TEA Parties remain true to the winning message. The Cherokee County TEA Party begins every meeting with a simple reminder: “We are about lower taxes and smaller government. Anyone else here supporting other issues are welcome, but this is the focus of this group.”
Such has not been the case with other groups who have been less successful attracting people to their cause. Several have resorted to appropriating the TEA party label for their own uses and agendas. The State of Georgia TEA Party was among the first to co-opt the name after the heavy lifting and electoral success was completed, and now many of the same folks who have destroyed the once proud brand represented by Georgia Right To Life have decided that they too must be a TEA Party in order to be taken seriously.
These people who are Proselytizing Evangelicals Advocating Conservative Hypocrisy have decided to co-opt the brand of those who are Taxed Enough Already to form the PEACH TEA Party. Tuesday, they decided to target 16 state Republicans as RINOs (Republicans In Name Only) and one independent for defeat as well. Savannah’s Ron Stephens was included on their list. The litmus test to determine opposition, however, seems to have nothing to do with taxes and everything to do with opposition to Doug McKillip’s fetal pain abortion restriction bill.
This is the same Doug McKillip, this TEA Party group’s new best friend, who during his 2010 election advocated for raising $1.5 Billion in new tax revenue by increasing income taxes on those making over $400,000 per year, adding the sales tax back to groceries, raising cigarette taxes $1 per pack, and closing all tax loopholes. Of course, that was when he was a Democrat. Not just in name, but in stated tax policy.
Today, those who stand with Doug “we can’t cut anymore, we must generate revenue” McKillip because of his bill restricting abortions are daring to call others RINOs because they disagree with them on social issues. Yet when they tried this under their old names against Representative Sharon Cooper of Cobb County during the last election, she won with 62% of the vote. Cooper actually “wrote the book” about TEA Party involvement titled Taxpayer’s Tea Party: How to Become Politically Active – And Why with a foreword written by fellow RINOs Newt Gingrich and Rush Limbaugh. Her longtime opponents will now attempt to don the mantle of the TEA Party and try again against this pro-life candidate that they refer to as a “pro-abort” on their website.
They are advocating keeping a “Republican” who during the 2010 TEA Party election advocated for raising taxes on Georgians by $1.5 Billion, but against longtime fiscal conservatives that have publicly stood up to the bullying by these modern day Pharisees.
There is a funny taste left in the mouth after reviewing the tactics of this “TEA” Party In Name Only. It’s much worse than any Peach Jolly Rancher I’ve ever eaten. And there’s nothing authentic, natural, or genuine about it. It’s fake to its core.