A New Progressive Voice at Peach Pundit

By every objective measure, I should have been a conservative.

Both my parents were Republicans, and I grew up in ruby red Dade County in the far northwest corner of Georgia. I even spent my formative years amongst the cows on a farm in a town with only a few thousand people.

And for a while, I wore the conservative label as a badge of honor. I helped campaign for John McCain in 2008 and even Nathan Deal (who had been my Congressman) in 2010.

But in high school, I (along with so many of my classmates) grew increasingly disaffected with the Republican Party’s rigid conservatism on social issues, which prompted an identity crisis that eventually led to a fundamental overhaul in the way I thought about political issues.

Today, my brand of politics is one of pragmatic progressivism—meaning I’m far more interested in concrete policies than abstract ideas, and I have a low tolerance for showboating on both sides of the aisle.

Though my heart is always in Georgia, I’m currently studying in Connecticut at Yale University, where I am a junior double majoring in Economics and Political Science. I’ll graduate in May 2016, at which point I’ll probably need a real job. So if you’re hiring, I wouldn’t ignore an email with an offer.

In the past, I’ve had short stints doing communications work at both Georgia Equality and Better Georgia, and I spent six weeks this past summer studying environmental and public economics at the London School of Economics.

Outside of Peach Pundit, I also exercise my First Amendment rights by writing a biweekly column for the Yale Daily News, in which I aim to be a regular thorn in the side of a university slow to change.

A Southern boy at heart, I’ll soon be back to Georgia full-time when I get this degree, if only to return to my grandmother’s fried chicken and sweet tea.

71 comments

  1. Harry says:

    This country and Peach Pundit doesn’t need more false “progressives”. True progressive thinking is something other than what you folks promote. Also, Yale is one of the overrated centers of mis-allocated pseudoacademia in Acela-land.

      • Will Durant says:

        Well Bridget, most of the new guys are young bucks and forgive Harry if he still sees this as the electronic version of the old small town dead peter bench.

        Welcome Tyler, from a geezer who once was a Young Republican, though looking back now at the time it likely had more to do with a Young Debutante than ideology.

        • Harry says:

          My wife is 24 years younger than I, she’s not complaining. I recommend vitamin supplements and daily exercise in the fresh air.

          • Will Durant says:

            I don’t see those benches in the small towns anymore either. Not sure if Walmart or Viagra is to blame.

              • Will Durant says:

                Sorry Ellynn, as a kid I heard all of the world’s problems resolved by a group of pensioners in front of a general store. Many of Harry’s statements remind me of one of the curmudgeons in particular. Mention FDR and he would throw a chaw swallowing fit. I wanted to clue Tyler into what he was dealing with here. The name was commonly used by the locals and I’ve even heard it repeated by author Ferrol Sams. No offense was intended, even to Harry 🙂

    • WeymanCWannamakerJr says:

      Yeah, that overrated school that turned out progressives like George Bush I, Dick Cheney, & Clarence Thomas.

      • Ellynn says:

        and George W Bush, Samuel Alito, John Ashcroft , George Pataki , Edwin Meese…

        and of course, that ultra progressive muck raker William F. Buckley.

  2. bsjy says:

    Tyler is the Southern analogue to the cultural Jew or cultural Catholic. He likes the folks but cannot be bothered by the faith.

    Chik-Fil-A has sweet tea and chicken biscuits in New Haven and New York, Tyler, so there is no need to come home if that is all you value from Georgia. New York is full of Southerners who cannot kick the clay off their boots fast enough, and that is fine.

    The problem with leftists (whether they call themselves liberals or progressives) is they not only want to make their own choices, they want to make your choices, too. Very few conservatives want to check what’s going on in your bedroom, Mr. Pragmatic Progressive. They just don’t want the homosexual activists to insist on social approval of what goes on in their bedrooms. But the left won’t live and let live. It lives and forces us to look on with affirmation.

    If Progressives were really Pragmatic, they would take an issue like Marriage and conclude that society’s views are simultaneously doctrinaire and divergent. This should lead to a policy that the government no longer has a view on marriage and withdraws from the arena. Let the churches, synagogues, and wiccans define it as they understand it; in our pluralistic culture, that is the best we can pragmatically do. But the Left is dogmatic rather than pragmatic by nature. When 30 activists want something, they claim it is the will of the people and insist it is the consensus. And they browbeat, shame, threaten, castigate and mock anyone who stands in opposition.

    So young man, understand that your position is untenable. If you grow in wisdom, you will abandon it. If you grow in leftism, you will become frozen in it.

    • benevolus says:

      Marriage stopped becoming the exclusive realm of churches the day it got written into a law. At that point, governments MUST take a view on marriage.

      If you want to make an effort to change every law everywhere that uses the word “marriage” to “civil union” so that marriage can be reserved for religions, you probably wouldn’t get much resistance, as long as “marriages” don’t impart more rights than civil unions. But at this point it’s probably easier for churches just to pick a new word for whatever it is they want to distinguish by doing so.

      • Harry says:

        As saltycracker says, the issue is that government should not be involved in marriage other than recognizing the contract in court. Maybe government codifying marriage was possible when this was a more homogenous society, but not any more.

        • benevolus says:

          If I am understanding you correctly, that is exactly what gay folks are asking for- their marriage contract to be recognized legally.

          • Harry says:

            A contract is a contract, no matter what parties make it. What we social conservatives object to is the legal codification of all sorts of government benefits that appertain to such a contract: tax benefits, mandated employee marital benefits, adoption of children, and others. I believe marriage is a sacrament between God and a man and a woman, sanctified in church. Government should have never been involved in the definition of marriage. Government benefits directed to children should follow the child, not the parents.

            On the subject of adoption, look at how the Romans and other historical entities handled it.

              • saltycracker says:

                You still don’t get it ? “Marriage” is none of your business, call your church. Individual agreements, file the contract or use the states standard form (tbd).

                • SavannahLobber says:

                  I’m confused by what you want. You don’t want the government (state or federal) to be in the “defining marriage game”. But you do want the government to enforce “marriage contracts”, which any consenting adult should be able to enter into? But then you don’t want the government (state or federal) to provides benefits/create obligations related to these marriage contracts? I’m with you on tax benefits (income and estate), but what about evidentiary immunities, spousal rights and rights arising under the Probate/Guardian & Ward statutes? I haven’t heard anyone argue against those. So if those are going to exist, the government necessarily has to enforce or recognize “marriage contracts”, “civil unions” or whatever name will be used.

                  Is this entire fight just over the word “marriage”. if we substitute the word “civil union” for “marriage” everywhere, does that make everyone happy? The government isn’t going into churches and telling them who they can and can’t marry.

                  • FranInAtlanta says:

                    Don’t kid yourself about the government going into churches and saying who they can and can’t marry. The first Vermont law for same sex marriage had a clause in it that removed the right of an officiant join any two anyone if s/he didn’t agree to join all comers – sort of like the wedding cake, photography, and location (farm that does weddings) things where people have already paid fines or lost licenses. The governor of Vermont found the clause and refused to sign the bill until it was removed.
                    Don’t think it will not be inserted everywhere it can be slipped in.

                  • Harry says:

                    The courts should enforce contracts between two parties, nothing more or less. If two children are produced between two parties and they subsequently seek divorce, then the courts come in the picture. One can call a government document a marriage license or civil union, but marriage is only as real as the relationship. When the government gets in the act of mandating benefits and obligations relating to a so-called marriage, beyond what is in the contract itself, then it is moving into the position of being something it should not be. If government would stay out of mandating “spousal” benefits and obligations then there would be no conflict. What we traditionalists find objectionable is that anyone can be on the receiving end of what turns out to be a short-term basically meaningless relationship and yet receive all sorts of mandated government and employer benefits at the expense of the rest of us. I have the same problem with baby mamas who have babies just in order to receive AFDC benefits, food stamps, and medicaid.

                    • SavannahLobber says:

                      From the best I can tell, you don’t want the government to issue marriage licenses although you want the courts to enforce contracts to marry, prenuptial agreements, wills, etc. You also don’t want there to be any tax benefits, evidentiary immunities, spousal tort law, etc. or spousal rights (eg: year’s support, intestacy rights, alimony, etc) for married people. Basically, you want being married in a church (of any religion) to have no legal effect.

                      A lot of the above are legal principles that have been around since common law. Basically, society made determinations about what the legal effect of becoming married to someone should be. You’re in a very small minority if you’re arguing these rights should not exist for those getting married. The problem is, if you stop giving out marriage licenses, how do we then determine who gets these rights? Only by contract? Not everyone can afford prenups, powers of attorney, wills, etc. Our legal system has developed to offer certain rights outside of those written in a contract, because it’s the only workable method.

                      If the government is going to issue marriage licenses as a way of legally establishing those who have entered into relationships in which they want to create legal obligations, how can it make value judgments about who to grant them to? How would such a judgment be anything other than picking winners and losers based on the arbitrary? It wouldn’t.

                      “What we traditionalists find objectionable is that anyone can be on the receiving end of what turns out to be a short-term basically meaningless relationship and yet receive all sorts of mandated government and employer benefits at the expense of the rest of us.”

                      I really don’t get this statement. Are you saying that if same sex couples are permitted marriage licenses, they’ll do so only to receive “all sorts of mandated government and employer benefits “? Which are??? And why in the world would this be type of behavior be limited to same sex couples? Additionally, you do realize there are also legal OBLIGATIONS that arise from marriage right? But it’s only same sex couples that have not thought about these obligations beforehand and are going to be running into fake marriage for the “benefits”? Please clarify.

                    • Harry says:

                      You’re making this too complex. What we call a marriage licence is a specialized, recorded contract. It can be enforced, no problem. Comes from common law no doubt. The problem is that government in the last 100 years has attached (mandated) a slew of privileges and benefits. These are unnecessary and now interfere with the morality and convictions of many. Homosexuals felt left out when they were excluded; now that they are included we socons believe our moral sense is violated and perhaps also we are being asked to pay indirectly for bad lifestyle choices. The only solution that will eliminate this social stress is to remove all government-granted privileges and benefits, which should have never gotten their nose under the tent to begin with. Of course, Democrats accuse the GOP of using this as a wedge issue but the truth is it is they who are using it.

                  • saltycracker says:

                    The idea is to abate a very divisive mess in our rapidly changing culture. Grandfathering and moving 21st century. You make some good points our legislators should consider in a basic contract for legalforms.net.

                    Or is it all about inclusion in public monies or maybe trashing a bunch of Christian traditionalists (not fundamentalists) that otherwise are pretty good citizens ? This approach allows all orientations to walk as individuals. Even my neighbor wanting 5 Russian brides.

      • The creepy comment was directed toward BSJY btw. He doesn’t interest me enough to research yet, but he’s on my intuition radar because … something ain’t right.

        I wish Tyler the best. I admire people who get up & out to see the world and then come back home to settle down.

        • Harry says:

          More than likely his freshman/sophmore world view will have him eventually join the living dead in NY, Boston, or SF.

    • Gray says:

      Gay folks don’t want or need your “social approval of what goes on in their bedrooms”. They’re seeking to marry someone that the government has said is illegal. They don’t “want to make your choices, too” …they want to make their own choice without government interference.

      Project much?

  3. A Hinson says:

    Why do Southern White men that are progressive feel the need to defend their Southern credentials? It reinforces the stereotype that a Southern white man has to be a bigot and a conservative to be a legitimate Southerner.

    • greencracker says:

      You know, that is a good point. And sometimes people say the south is completely red, conservative, etc. I dunno, I saw John Lewis yesterday and it seems to me the most successful progressive thinkers in the U.S. of A for the last 70 years have been Southerners. We have a huge tradition of progressivism … it just sometimes is segregated in peoples’ minds. Which is a shame.

      I would also cheekily point out that Tyler did not state the color of his skin. If we are assuming offhand he is white, that is our own bias.

      • saltycracker says:

        See his link caricature , looks like a southern guy from NW Ga that drinks sweet tea and refuses to comb his hair because he is studying instead of helping his parents on the farm to me !

      • Will Durant says:

        Stating you are from Dade County is the equivalent of a boxer using “Irish” in their fight name.

        • greencracker says:

          Well I didn’t see his picture … And yea, “Dade” kind of screams “white” and that’s what I thot on reading the bio, but I try to stop and not assume anything if I notice it and can help it. I had a HS geometry teacher who when he taught us proofs used to howl “ASSUME NOTHING!” It’s stuck with me.

  4. Scarlet Hawk says:

    Tyler,

    As I’m certain you’re already aware, some folks down here aren’t happy when you succeed and leave the state. Bless their hearts and pay them no mind. Keep climbing, speak your truth and shame the devil. 🙂

    May your postings bring pride to those you love, and your hometown area, shed light on what you see as wrong, and know even this “community” here may be cruel yet there are compassionate souls no matter where you go. They may even come in the form of the folks that you disagree with most politically.

    Best wishes to you.

  5. David C says:

    Nothing wrong with more Dawgs on Peach Pundit, no matter the color. Except the crimson ones, obviously.

  6. FranInAtlanta says:

    Welcome. Republican here who believes any two consenting adults are entitled to the government benefits (and non-benefits) of marriage. Don’t know where you stand on abortion, but I consider killing a baby that would be viable outside the womb to be homicide.

  7. Baker says:

    Welcome Tyler!

    1) There are plenty of Republicans who don’t have a problem with gay marriage.
    2) Don’t get lazy PP conservative writers.

  8. Lawton Sack says:

    Welcome, Tyler. The best way for all of us to learn is to listen to the various viewpoints and do our own research. I look forward to seeing things and learning from your perspective.

  9. tribeca says:

    Welcome! Glad to have new voices/viewpoints ’round here. As someone who also left Georgia for an elitist, Yankee education, want to wish you the best of luck on your continued exile. Some of the greatest voices in the South (Faulkner, O’Connor, Williams, Welty, McCullers, Capote) all left the South for a spell and doing so helped sharpen their sense of “Southernness” and made them smarter and wiser than folks who bullheadedly stayed in one place.

    Also, sad to see that some folks forgot what their mommas taught them about politeness and hospitality.

  10. seenbetrdayz says:

    And for a while, I wore the conservative label as a badge of honor. I helped campaign for John McCain in 2008 . . .

    Well, there are some here who think that’s not much of a shift. Anyways, I hope you can bring something more thoughtful to the table than the typical ‘black folk vote democrat and white folk vote republican’ articles we’ve been seeing almost exclusively here. I’m happy to see any fresh face that brings fresh material. It’d be nice to see something that’s not so caught up on demographics (skin color) for a change.

  11. blakeage80 says:

    Look forward to reading you, Tyler. I always admire college aged people that get slots on such well followed blogs as these.

  12. Lea Thrace says:

    Who peed in yall’s coffee this morning?! Geez.

    Hi Tyler. Welcome to the Good Ship Crazy Town also known as Peach Pundit. I’m sure you’re regretting this decision already. 😀

  13. becauseisaidso says:

    Welcome Tyler! My son Tyler is in his second year of a six year fellowship at Brown. Enjoy the beautiful fall! Keep thinking and writing!

  14. Michael Silver says:

    Welcome aboard. I look forward to your insights from the land of Yale and giving you a hard time.

  15. Chet Martin says:

    Glad to have another brother in intern-hood, Tyler. I’ll be sure not to question your politics, your Southern identity, or the value of your education. But a serious conversation about the wisdom of leaving the SEC seems necessary

  16. xdog says:

    I’m not so sure all of y’all claiming to be from the south are from the south at all. When southerners meet, they first exchange names, then where they’re from, then where there family is from. Or didn’t you hear?

  17. saltycracker says:

    Some are just peeved ’cause Charlie said he was gonna get another Yalie – we expected a forklift driver ……

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