My initial reaction to Erick’s post yesterday was anger. Not the kind of anger after having had a bucket of cold water thrown in your face but anger that I think he’s wrong on one important point. It is most certainly true that many, perhaps even most of Georgia’s citizens do not trust their government. Erick is right when he says Governor Deal’s announcement he was ending the 400 tolls next December was met with skepticism and hurt rather than helped his efforts to pass TSPLOST. There was also a stronger than usual anti-incumbent mood Tuesday as evidenced by 14 State level incumbents being tossed out or forced into runoffs. It’s worth noting almost as many Democrats were defeated or forced into runoffs as Republicans. There were incumbents thrown out at the local level as well. Incumbents of all persuasions who fail to heed the message of Tuesday could find themselves in trouble in two years.
Where I disagree with Erick is his statement that “much of the political establishment in Georgia holds the citizens in contempt.” I know this comment wasn’t directed at me personally but it was directed at the political establishment of which I am a part. I don’t agree with that sentiment at all.
Almost everyone I’ve met who ran for office did so because they thought they could help their community. Some lose their way once elected but most don’t. To say most elected officials feel contempt for the very people who elect them just isn’t true.
The lack of trust voters have for us is a serious problem we must deal with immediately. Every proposal to address problems we face is met with skepticism. It’s growing increasingly more difficult to deal seriously with the issues. If we don’t make substantial strides in earning voters’ trust soon we’ll be in deep trouble as a State.
We didn’t get here overnight and I’m convinced some of this distrust has spilled over from what goes on in Washington. When people say “all you politicians are the same” they’re not just talking about Republicans and Democrats, they’re talking about politicians at every level of government. Enforcing our current ethics laws and strengthening them where they’re weak is a good place to start as is taking steps to increase transparency in the process of making laws. We must try to earn voters trust because the road we’re on takes us to a place we don’t want to go.
But we don’t hate you.