Well, today we have news that is completely messed up on so many levels that I don't even think my commentary can do it justice, but with how bad the government of Georgia has become, it isn't at all surprising. To make a long story short, Casey Cagle - whom we've all expected to be coronated governor for some time now - has been caught on tape basically admitting that he's a lying dirtbag who will sell out his principles to stay in power (and whose principles are wrong regardless).
So here's the story (read the full AJC version here):
Casey Cagle has been the Lieutenant Governor forever, and he has massive power over the legislature. Now he's running for full-fledged Governor. He's been running primarily on a platform of school choice. According to Cagle, some time back he was approached by the Walton Foundation (Wal-mart money) and was given an ultimatum: support a bill that we like, and get it passed, or we'll give millions of dollars to your Gubernatorial opponent Hunter Hill. Casey Cagle, afraid of losing to a cash-laden Hunter Hill, put so much pressure on the senate to pass the bill that the Senate Education Committee chair literally resigned. Cagle got the bill through, Hunter Hill was knocked out of the race.
As if that isn't bad enough, we have to consider the subject matter of the bill. It was a school choice bill, the purpose of which was to give tax credits to people who donated to charter schools (and the Walton Foundation wanted those tax credits). Of course, Casey Cagle - Mr. I've-been-running-on-school-choice - didn't want the bill passed because, in reality, he isn't for school choice. And he was terrified of Hunter Hill being nominated because Hunter Hill actually is.
"It ain't about public policy. It's about shit politics. There's a group that was getting ready to put three million behind Hunter Hill... Mr. Pro-Charter-Vouchers. Every year I killed that bill with Lindsey [the guy Cagle pressed until he resigned]. We beat it to a pulp."
For the record, I think charter schools are a terrible idea, and to that end, I agree that the bill in question was probably bad (I haven't read it). I think the government should have no hand in education, but I support vouchers as a means of transitioning there. We shouldn't be putting public money into charter schools or giving people tax breaks for donating to them.
But my beliefs aside, this is a complete mess for so many reasons:
And the response from the Cagle camp? Something to the effect of "Well he shouldn't have released that tape." That's not a response Cagle. It's an insult. We aren't stupid.
I've been intentionally staying out of talking about the Governor's race because I don't personally know anyone who's running (even if I am only one degree removed), but when we've got a story about Georgia's education system and a politician saying the shit-word, I can't stay out of the mix. The only thing that would make this more Justin-Freeman-worthy would be a police officer beating Hunter Hill up while Hill quoted Bible verses. So I've got to comment, and here's what I've got to say about it:
Cagle, you need to drop out. You've insulted the intelligence of your core constituency. There's no way that the people of Georgia could ever respect you or trust your leadership after this. Whether or not you could technically still win by covering it up with your big-money campaign is irrelevant. You need to do the right thing, show some respect for yourself and for your people, and get out of the race.
And finally, some people have called me a "conspiracy theorist" for reporting the well-documented facts about how the totally corrupt government of Georgia "works." Well, here's another piece of evidence for you. Our elected officials are owned by corporate sponsors. Our politicians lie to us and stab us in the back. This is why our laws are a steaming pile of horse-hockey. Our education policy is openly for sale (even if families like mine suffer for it), and the people making the laws abuse them to ruin the lives of innocent people like myself while they walk through the halls of power doing the same supposedly-wrong things that we do, and much, much worse.
I wish I could say crooked deals like Casey Cagle's aren't the norm, but they are. And you know, at times, people have asked me why I don't run for office. Well, this is it. The path to a political office is lying, cheating, and taking bribes. If you aren't willing to play that game, then you're guaranteed to lose to someone who is. The system we have in place right now is set up to ensure that all the shit rises to the top - which means that I'd never get there if I tried.
I love Georgia. I was born here, and I've spent virtually every day of my life here. But the longer I watch, the more I see that Georgia is devolving into no better than a crack-pot banana republic. What a disgrace.