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Political Divides and the Art of Accomplishing Absolutely Nothing

June 13, 2012

It is no surprise that I am a big supporter of TSPLOST.  But not for political reasons.  I do not support it because I identify myself with one party or another.  There are no undertones of political ideology.  It is simple based off the fact that our region needs this for countless reasons.   So when a commenter called me out for back handed remarks I had made about certain conservative loud mouths, I wasn’t surprised by it.  And while I will never shy away from taking shots at them, I will also not do so when it comes to the other side of the political field.  Just a few weeks before I was going after the Sierra Club, and if time permitted I had a lot more to say about them.  And I do this because these groups, newscasters (Fox and MSNBC alike) and political ideology and divisiveness are making it nearly impossible to accomplish anything of any significance.  And that is threatening TSPLOST.  On one side you have a group holding against it for two reasons: They hate transit, and typically relate it to anything socialist while not considering the implications or source of funding for the roads that they hug so dearly, while holding steadfast to a political ideal that no new or increased taxes can ever be leveraged based on a pact created by an 11 year old some three decades ago. (Even Lindsay Graham who signed it thinks it needs to be abolished.)  On the other side you have groups against it for mainly two reasons as well: idealism that 99.9% of this vote should go directly to transit, ignoring that this vote does not have the scope or resources that would be needed to do such a thing while including all 10 counties; and race, an argument that completely ignores the inherent needs of transit regarding density and uses, while attempting to infuse the debate with an argument over jobs contracts that is unrelated to the vote itself.  Then there is this remaining third of people who know this list isn’t perfect, but it meets the needs and desires of all parties involved, good or bad, and understands that this vote is about more than just a tax or a political party.  It is about moving forward.  It is about health, jobs, economic development, our future, and creating the competitive environment that will prevent Atlanta from becoming Birmingham. 

Nathan Deal, Saxby Chambliss, Johnny Isakson, Kasim Reed, Casey Cagle and a few other politicians that I can’t remember all have a few things in common.  They all support TSPLOST, and none of them are up for reelection.  They are also the most important politicians in the state.  The governor, the lieutenant governor, both senators, and mayor of the state’s most important city.  Then you have politicians like Chip Rogers, Tim Downing, and Sean Jerguson.  What do they have in common?  They all oppose TSPLOST, they are all Republican, they are all small time local politicians, and they are all up for reelection.  These politicians do not oppose TSPLOST because it is the right thing to do.  They oppose it because their feet are held to the fire by political ideology.  Held by citizens who are glued to their televisions or radios, whom refuse to further investigate anything, and take what is said by those correspondents as the light, the truth, and the only thing that matters.  So in order for these politicians to keep their jobs, they have to jive with what the divisive media is telling their constituents to do.  These politicians either lack the balls to stand up to them or are greedy little leaches that will use this as an attempt to achieve political superstardom.  Until now Republicans have always been in favor of infrastructure improvements.  Remember it was Ronald Reagan who established the transit fund that was sliced out of the highway fund.  And remember that it was a very large group of bi partisan politicians and business leaders that put an end to the attempt by certain members of Congress to halt that funding.

And it isn’t just Republicans.  It is Liberals as well.  It may be harder to find politicians in this state simply because it is so red, but there are organizations who are sticking to their own ideals that can hardly be justified as a means to turn away something so important.  The Sierra Club, who may not have a political affiliation, but its members tend to definitely lean to one direction more than the other, is saying no to TSPLOST on the accounts that it doesn’t provide commuter rail, has too many road projects, and isn’t embodied by a specific policy or plan.  Even though commuter rail actually supports the kind of sprawl that they oppose, they refuse to look at the bigger picture of how many counties are involved in this and what their needs are, and are expecting a written policy from a tax vote that funds projects and not policy.  Policy is made in a lot of ways, but a tax is not one of them.  The NAACP has opposed TSPLOST on  grounds of race.  This vote is not to decide who gets the contracts to build the projects, and if the southern portion of Fulton County wants to see more rail lines instead of bus lines then they need to have more dense development to support it.  It isn’t about race, it’s about having enough people living near the line to make it financially feasible.  And these kinds of ideals are embodied in the media that they consume as well. 

So now we are left with two sides that the rational middle has to counter effect.  The middle that wants TSPLOST not because they are red or blue.  Not because their favorite politician says yes or no.  But because they know it is imperative to the growth and development of our community.  Because they know that if we do not get the ball rolling we will not remain the King of the South, let alone a key player in global economics.  This middle includes people like myself, CCTGirl, Clark Howard, and the person that commented on my previous post.  Have you ever seen Clark Howard on a MARTA bus?  Probably not.  But he can put aside his personal feelings and whether or not he will use to the system to know that it is necessary for the region.  Will you ever catch me driving on a road in Douglas County?  Only if I get hired as an extra on The Walking Dead.  But people in that county need to get a move on just like I do, even if it is not my preferred method of transportation.  And if that means I have to give them an interchange or a widened road so that I can get my rail, then hell I will gift wrap my pennies in advance and present them with a big red bow in their driveway like it was a Lexus commercial.

Now is the time to cut the crap.  To stop voting no because Neil Boortz influenced Debbie Dooley and if you feel like you betrayed Debbie Dooley you will be betraying your country.  To stop voting no because your vegan eating, Birkenstock wearing friend will oust you from your yoga group shaming you and your entire family, forcing you to shop at a different Whole Foods.  There is a reason why the supporters of TSPLOST hold the five most important government offices in this state.  They recognize the importance of causes like this and its positive impact that it will have.  And there is a reason why those that are against it are a mayor of a city I had never even heard of until I wrote this post, and a flip flopping small town state house member.  They are only concerned with themselves and upholding the image that their shock jocks and news channel created on their behalf and trying to climb the political ladder while feeding off the cavernous divide that has now separated politics.

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One Comment leave one →
  1. Jay permalink
    June 27, 2012 10:01 am

    I think you’ve accurately identified the multiple factions that make up the varied voting interests concerns TSPLOST, but how do you bring these groups together? By forcing them to realize their interests ARE actually supported in the TSPLOST vote.

    You mention the Sierra Club, who if they ardently follow their ideology, should be incensed about the smog cloud that will hang over ATL this summer. Voting yes will reduce this cloud since much of it is a result of a lack of transit options. ATL does have to few roads and too little transit for a city of its size. Increasing mobility will reduce idle times and get folks home faster

    To those concerned about race, inform them that DeKalb County is the 2nd most affluent Black county in the nation. You don’t need to have employment assurances like Maynard Jackson had with building the new Hartsfield b/c this endeavor will require everyone regardless of race to make it work. As an aside, a rail to South DeKalb should be included as this area has proven through various bus routes that it can support such an investment.

    To the small town politicians who are too cowardly to correct their constituents of delusional falsehoods (i.e. The ATL region takes all the tax money from the rural areas to bankroll its existence) DO YOUR JOB!! Inform the people of the truth, that w/o ATL the state of Georgia is Mississippi. I’ll never forget one state rep’s assertion that he had never ridden MARTA and no one in his district would either as justification for not supporting the agency. The fact no had the stone’s to tell this guy “most ATL residents will never drive over those mulit-million dollar cable-stayed bridges in Savannah and Brunswick either, but they understand that supporting such projects benefits the entire state.”

    I’ve even called out the ATL Tea Party for being against this movement because their position is that all of these endeavors can be supported out of user fees. A ridiculous supposition since the only roads that are supported by such fees are toll roads. Every other transportation mode is subsidized in some way. Not burdening other people with your problems is at the very essence of the Tea Parties, how can you not be behind the local region getting together and deciding not to ask the federal gov’t to solve this issue and instead being responsible and solving it themselves.

    Ultimately, battling the ignorance and the general inertia regarding the seriousness of this vote will be THE challenge for July. As you state, this is an issue that transcends political ideology.

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