About Those “Social Radicals”

This morning’s AJC Jolt has the following entry:

The Government Affairs Council of the Georgia Chamber of Commerce – the political arm of the largest business group in the state — gathers on St. Simons Island later this week.

A topic on the Wednesday agenda: “Social Radicals & Their Influence on Georgia’s Political Landscape,” an address by Charlie Harper, a PeachPundit contributor who is now executive director of PolicyBEST, a middle-of-the-road advocacy group.

On Thursday’s line-up: An assessment of the Georgia Coalition for Job Creation, the chamber’s effort to impact state legislative races. The speakers are a Marietta triangle of political strategists: Chip Lake, Chris Carpenter and Mitch Hunter.

While I will be speaking to the group tomorrow morning, the working title from this agenda is neither mine nor reflects the topics I intend to address.   At PolicyBEST we have focused on building coalitions, and that means speaking to people with diverse interests, backgrounds, and goals to find common ground.  Since forming the group, I’ve addressed a Tea Party Leaders Summit, a meeting of the Conference for a New Urbanism, and various other civic and community groups.   I find many of these groups tend to look at their opposition with skepticism and sometimes members use names for their opponents that appear/are pejorative.

There is a lot of name calling in today’s politics that comes from all sides. All. Sides.

Labeling and name calling of the opposition isn’t helpful to finding common ground.  Whether demonizing grassroots activists or the business community, liberals or conservatives, projecting titles with negative connotations don’t move the process forward.

To be clear, “Social Radicals” will not be used in either the title or as the basis of my presentation.  Frankly, I don’t even know what that term is supposed to mean or who it would represent.  We’ll instead focus on how to build consensus around major topics and reaching across ideological lines.  That’s the kind of radicalism that is sorely needed right now.


  1. Mrs. Adam Kornstein says:

    I always find it helpful to go directly to a words definition. Sometimes things are exactly as described and sometimes not.

    While we might not like to think of people or groups in this way, I think it’s the right word for this.

    Sorry most of us will miss it, sounds like a terrific discussion.

    radical [rad-i-kuhl] adjective
    1.of or going to the root or origin; fundamental: a radical difference.
    2.thoroughgoing or extreme, especially as regards change from accepted or traditional forms: a radical change in the policy of a company.
    3favoring drastic political, economic, or social reforms: radical ideas; radical and anarchistic ideologues.
    4.forming a basis or foundation.
    5.existing inherently in a thing or person: radical defects of character.

    9.a person who holds or follows strong convictions or extreme principles; extremist.
    10.a person who advocates fundamental political, economic, and social reforms by direct and often uncompromising methods.

    • saltycracker says:

      “I always find it helpful to go directly to a words definition. Sometimes things are exactly as described and sometimes not.”

      Perfect score for step one, move directly to GO !

    • Scott65 says:

      So…what about free radicals…the ones all those anti-oxidants are supposed to eliminate. Maybe the Chamber is promoting better nutrition…(not likely but I thought it was funny)

  2. Al Gray says:

    “Thou shalt not steal.”

    Yep, that is an extreme position over here in Chamber and GOP-controlled TSPLOSTistan.

  3. Raleigh says:

    Those Rascally Radicals…..

    Well whatever you call it post a link of you presentation here if you can. I’d like to read/see it.

    • Lawton Sack says:

      No. Socialism is defined as:

      A political and economic theory of social organization that advocates that the means of production, distribution, and exchange should be owned or regulated by the community as a whole.

      That is totally different than compromise.

      • objective says:

        i wouldn’t say so totally different– how to regulate the “community as a whole” without compromise? ultimately, the point of the question was to bring attention to the use of language, that using “social radicals” is but an attempt to delegitimize the positions of those with whom compromise is not sought. it is a relativistic term used to push an agenda. no doubts you’ll set em straight, charlie.

        • Lawton Sack says:

          I understand where you going with it, but compromise is a tool, while socialism is a philosophy. In other words, you can have compromise in capitalism, as it happens every day.

  4. Mr. Jenkins comments have been deleted for violating the terms of use of the site. If your first comment here is call names and accuse people of being “unethical,” and your second is to accuse the editor of censorship for not making sure you get immediate approval of the first, and neither one of them had anything to do with the subject of the post you’re commenting on, you’re only going to have an unpleasant experience with this community. On the other hand, it will probably at least be short.

  5. Thanks for this post Charlie. I wish I could be there to hear it because I share Charlie’s goal of reaching consensus around major issues. That’s an important topic.

    I must say I’m a little troubled by the Chamber’s use of the term “social radicals.” I won’t try to read their mind but I do have a couple of observations.

    Some would use phrase “social radical” to describe people like me who go to Church and allow their faith to inform their politics. BTW, it’s not just people on the “right” who do that, plenty of people on the “left” allow the Bible (for example) to inform their political positions on poverty and other social justice issues. I would imagine plenty of members of the Chamber of Commerce allow their faith to inform how they conduct their business as well. Sometimes that gets you labeled a “social radical.”

    I’ll also point out that Rep. Jason Spencer received an A+ from the Chamber this year and a B+ last year yet had several attack pieces from the Georgia Coalition for Job Creation sent to his constituents. Clearly an A+ on the Chamber scorecard is no longer good enough.

    I’d like to hear the Chamber say who these “social radicals” are and what that phrase means to them. Now that they have this political action committee ready to purify the political landscape, understanding what makes a person a target is of particular interest to me. Not that it will change how I vote, I just find it helpful to know where I stand with folks.

    • saltycracker says:

      Excellent – agree before jumping to our personal response we’d better understand exactly how the chamber defines social radical. They might need a lot of compromising amongst themselves to answer.

      • The Last Democrat in Georgia says:

        With the Chamber of Commerce being focused on helping big and bigger business make lots of money, the definition of who they consider to be a “social radical” is pretty simple….It’s whomever they consider to be getting directly in the way of their money-making ability.

        If you as a politician do something that they consider to be directly negatively affecting their bottom line, then they consider you to be a “social radical”.

        The marriage between business and politics is and has always been and will always be all about money and power. From the chamber’s standpoint either a politician is in it to help business win the money game or a politician is in the way of the chamber winning the money game. It’s pretty $imple.

        • Harry says:

          Yes, it’s not complicated. If tea party types were supportive of the CofC’s agenda then there would be no references to “social radicals”. Of course, the tea party is about fiscal restraint and not supporting their agenda. As with other supporters of the government class, the CofC is about robbing Peter to pay Paul.

        • saltycracker says:

          You mean a “social radical” is that unemployed dude in the Roswell, Ga’ s economic opportunity zone yelling st Sen. Beach for giving GM $3,000,000 a year for their high tech jobs?

          Well at least it is chump change/less destructive compared to the mismanagement and fraud in the social programs. Quid pro quo politics is good for the poor and connected.

          • The Last Democrat in Georgia says:

            Technically, I guess that the unemployed guy that you describe could be a “social radical”, but the chamber and business types aren’t in any way concerned about that type of guy if he has no political power to block their money-making agenda.

            The chamber and business types are much more concerned about the right-leaning Tea Party, Libertarian and even left-leaning environmentalist and social justice types who may possess just enough political power to block or harm their large-scale money-making agenda. Though, right now the chamber is much more concerned the right-leaning Tea Party and Libertarian types because they are the ones who are currently the closest to the halls of political power in this state.

            (…Like how the Tea Party led the way in helping to take down the T-SPLOST that the chamber and business types so heavily-pushed back in 2012….Or like how the Tea Party types backed the religious liberty bills that the business community so abhorred during this past legislative session….Those are the people that the chamber has directly in mind when they talk about “social radicals”.)

  6. ConservativeCaucus says:

    Charlie, I am confused by this a little bit. Usually, when one is asked to speak, the group gives an idea what subject matter they are wanting the speaker to touch on. So how did they approach you and did they give you any suggested topics? If not, can you speculate how they arrived at that title?

  7. Scott65 says:

    I’d say they are thinking radicals just to the right of Attila the Hun. The Chamber wants their candidates to win, and as long as you are not talking about far right social agendas, they can pretend they are not there, and voters wont have them front and center in their minds eye when they vote…

  8. Al Gray says:

    Based upon the last 3 years of FISCAL activism over here in east central Georgia some of our colleagues get very upset at any hint of compromise, yet some of the things we have pulled off with compromise have been stunning in a place that stonewalled dissent for a century. Yes, some ‘officials’ completely lose their cool but they are finding that costly. We defeated a SPLOST in Augusta and that is almost unheard of. Of course, that didn’t make the Chamber very happy.

    If you don’t cheer-lead absurdly rotten deals, unlimited public financing of private ventures, more Enron accounting at DOT, and connected contractors running for Congress, one supposes those things makes one a “social radical.” Go ahead, I have been called every name in the book already.

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