Faux conservatives

Tue, 02/26/2008 - 4:20pm
By: Letters to the ...

The faux conservative voices in Fayette County are telling us that conservative principles only matter in campaign rhetoric and not practical application. In the South, we call that talking out of both sides of your mouth. State Rep. Matt Ramsey’s letter on district voting was a real humdinger in a very un-conservative way.

In the same letter where he derides a colleague’s actions as “tremendously irresponsible,” Rep. Matt Ramsey said he “was pleased to cosponsor House Resolution 1216, the Taxpayer Dividend Act, with a bipartisan group of my colleagues.”

He went on to say, “Georgia has the highest budget surplus in our state’s history.” And Ramsey and his colleagues have devised a priority formula for how to spend the surplus.

Go ahead and ditch the financial responsibility and reform jargon. The young man who was used as the poster boy of Fayette conservatism not only wants to spend all of your wasted budgeted tax dollars, but he also wants spend the surplus beyond the budget too. Does the term “conservatism” have any kind of relevant meaning in our current General Assembly?

It is amazing the speed with which Rep. Ramsey has abandoned and violated his conservative principles; two months to be exact.

Yes, Rep. Ramsey has gone from being a passive observer as a legislative staffer to an active participant, even cheerleader, for picking the pockets of the taxpayers.

What Rep. Ramsey should actually be denouncing is the serious neglect of the Fayette County Commissioners to act responsibly and change a voting system of three county voting districts based upon “militia districts” which were established in 1863. That’s not a typographical error; they date back to 1863!

In 1863 we were still fighting the Civil War and the western states were still “territories.”

Let’s take it further, Fayette County, itself, was created in 1821. Now would anyone dare think the population and demographics have changed in Fayette County, Ga., since 1863? The U.S. Department of Justice does, on the record.

In fact, the Fayette County Commissioners tried to sneakily change the districts based on a unfair formula at an out of town commission retreat where the local citizen voters would be none the wiser.

When the population of the Fayette County remained around 8,000 persons from 1863 to 1970, at-large voting was the appropriate way to go as the local voter had maximum impact.

However, with the county’s population pushing past 100,000, it is time to reinvigorate the conservative principle conceived by the Founding Fathers to continue to get government as close to the people as possible.

Because conservative thinkers have always espoused that the more remote government is from the people, the more dangerous it becomes, we ought to be diligent, as the population grows, to create a proportion modification which allows the most local type of vote to have maximum impact.

As someone who has read all of Rep. Ramsey’s campaign literature and was present during public debate, I find his remarks condemning district voting quite hypocritical.

First, he has never been able to intelligently defend his position in opposition. In his letter to the newspaper, Rep. Ramsey says, “The local legislative process does not exist to impose controversial top-down changes on a local community without that community’s support and against the will of the locally elected officials.”

Now wait a minute, he is talking about the same legislature wanting to strip local control of schools, centralize local taxation at the state level, not return budget surpluses, refusing to implement state budget caps and throwing down one unfunded mandate after another.

I do not think the local governments in this state asked for the new non-conservative Republican effort to eliminate local governmental control in Georgia.

I would have to conclude that Rep. Ramsey’s faux conservative’s actions are “nothing more than an attempt by a few individuals at the state Capitol to impose their will on Fayette County” (borrowing one of Rep. Ramsey’s lines) and all the other local governments in the state.

Second, Rep. Ramsey, who was elected in a district voting process himself, and his local faux conservative backers, the ones who do not want to see government get as close to the people as possible through district voting, can only muster a single anemic position against district voting: At-large voting made us a great community and district voting will change things.

Rep. Ramsey goes as far as saying our children’s SAT and ACT scores and the value of our homes are owed to at-large voting. That is an incredible mental stretch.

So from the 1800s to the early 1970s when the scores were awful and home values were low, at-large voting had nothing to do with it, but when a large influx of college-educated (from outside of Fayette County) families moved to the county bringing their intellect and wealth from the 1980s forward, we have to attribute the success in test scores and home values to at-large voting.

Incidentally, the Fayette Board of Education is elected by the district voting method using districts which do not date back to the Lincoln administration. So those arguments are good old faux conservative hypocrisy.

If we are totally honest, Fayette County, before the 1980s growth boom, was known for a few things, including burned-out farm land from over-planting cotton, moonshine, a lack of resources and poverty.

Furthermore, the reason Peachtree City is where it is today is due to the fact the land was so incredibly cheap. (The best way to fight faux conservatism is with the truth.)

We had a roving discussion about district voting a couple of years ago. One of the meetings was in Peachtree City. After the meeting, two women approached me and clearly stated they opposed district voting because they did not want those “black people” taking over our county.

I can only respond to such comments by saying they have a moral dilemma and not a political one. The sheer injustice of saying the shading of a person’s skin is an absolute indicator of how they behave and it should be used to prevent the extension of liberty by prohibiting the vote in a manner closest to the people is an outrage.

In fairness, I am not attributing this position to Rep. Ramsey, but it is used by some of the faux conservatives in Fayette County.

Again, let’s take a truthful approach to the race issue. The entire African-American population in Fayette County is around 12 percent. Logically, how is 12 percent of the population going to override everyone else?

A few weeks ago, voters in a county that is more than 96 percent white chose a black man from Cullman, Ala., James Fields, to represent them in the Alabama state House of Representatives. Last fall, another black man, Eric Powell, was elected to the Mississippi state Senate from a district that is more than 92 percent white. Both men decisively beat white candidates in districts that traditionally support Republican presidential candidates.

As a native Georgian, I have to sigh in disbelief when majority white districts in Alabama and Mississippi show more intellectual integrity on the issues of character and race than some of the faux conservatives living in Fayette County.

Unfortunately, Rep. Ramsey will not admit that the best way for the citizens of Tyrone and Peachtree City to battle unjust treatment with county recreation funding and a crooked SPLOST depriving them of their tax dollars is district voting.

He will not admit that the best way for the citizens of Brooks and Woolsey to keep the land surrounding their hamlets at low density is district voting.

He will not admit that the best way for the citizens in unincorporated North Fayette County to finally receive adequate representation is district voting.

Only a faux conservative would try to convince the public that direct representation and accountability to the specific voters of a district, the most local form of government closest to the people, is a bad idea.

Until Rep. Ramsey tells us he’s convinced that all state House of Representatives seats should be elected at-large by all voters in Georgia, he is nothing more than a hypocrite.

Steve Brown


Peachtree City, Ga.

login to post comments

Comment viewing options

Select your preferred way to display the comments and click "Save settings" to activate your changes.
Liferfrom65's picture
Submitted by Liferfrom65 on Thu, 02/28/2008 - 3:15pm.

Just another reason not to vote for Steve Brown if he ever runs for anything again.

Submitted by Judith Moore on Wed, 02/27/2008 - 2:50pm.

Thank you, Steve. Well said.

For the record, I am speaking here only as a resident of North Fayette County and an advocate of district voting. I want candidates who live in North Fayette to run on the issues of concern affecting my area. Given the opportunity, I will vote for a local candidate who will fight to keep commercial and industrial development out of my neighborhood. I happen to be white, but that should be irrelevant. Nevertheless, if the only way I can get district voting is to support a federal lawsuit based on the Voting Rights Act, I will.

We are headed for a confrontation with the judicial system that will only reinforce the historic mistrust between the races in our county. It is time for responsible community leaders and elected officials to demonstrate their commitment to end the political exploitation of racism. We must acknowledge the legitimate interests of all our county’s residents to determine the scope and development of their own communities.

Those who favor district voting want a commissioner who is responsible solely to the residents of their district. Those who oppose it are the ones playing the race card. They are the fear mongers who say that district voting will make us just like Clayton County. Commissioner Eric Maxwell stated in a public meeting that he opposes district voting not because of race but because of crime. So why does he think district voting would increase crime? No commissioner has repudiated his point of view.

The only reason to oppose district voting is to be sure that those who are in power now stay in power. No one gives up power without a fight. Those making decisions for the county now don't want change, but change is always inevitable. The question is whether change is planned for responsibly or not. There is every reason to believe that Fayette County will continue its trend toward increasing diversity, just as every large metropolitan area does. Like it or not, we are part of metropolitan Atlanta. Planning for the county needs to reflect that reality.

Main Stream's picture
Submitted by Main Stream on Wed, 02/27/2008 - 2:01pm.

Great letter. Thanks for your input.

I just wonder if the Department of Justice will eventually step in regarding this? Let's hope it doesn't get to that point.

NUK_1's picture
Submitted by NUK_1 on Wed, 02/27/2008 - 3:25pm.

If you are one of the local dems that really want district voting, you had better start begging the Justice Dept to intercede because it won't ever happen otherwise. This is strictly a Dem vs. Repub issue along with some black/white thrown in and the Repubs have you vastly out-numbered. Considering the commissioners don't want it, the person who represents most of Fayette doesn't want it, the state legislature is Repub.......no chance on the Fludd bill becoming anything more than a pipe-dream.

I realize that no Dem has a chance of being elected in Fayette under the present system, but that's the way it goes when your national party isn't anything resembling the voters of Fayette. That's really the issue, not district voting or some stuff about what the Founding Fathers intended. The Founding Fathers didn't intend for a lot of the pro district crowd to be able to vote in the first place.

As far as Brown's letter, it's a nice cure for insomnia and a good way to earn an income if you were paid by the word, but it's not much of an effective argument on the pro's of district voting. Nor is it much on faux conservatism either. Just more post-election sour grapes. Will anyone read that and change their mind on the issue? No, though there might be a few more against it who hadn't realized in the past that Brown is for district voting.

AF A-10's picture
Submitted by AF A-10 on Wed, 02/27/2008 - 9:52pm.

I started at the top and read down, unaware of the author, but very impressed with how his points were supported with examples from other states, and even including the system of district voting by which opponents of district voting were elected.

You wrote: "As far as Brown's letter, it's a nice cure for insomnia and a good way to earn an income if you were paid by the word, but it's not much of an effective argument on the pro's of district voting. Nor is it much on faux conservatism either. Just more post-election sour grapes. "

Nuk, I would say an ineffective argument is "we've always done it this way." Do you not find it odd how Fayette county citizens and PTC types in particular, are sooo upset with their big box mayor and the accelerating growth in west Fayette, but "all is hunky dory" when district voting comes up. "No problem here officer" we say as we answer the door with two black eyes and a fat lip. Our mayor and counsel are treating us just swell, sir.

I've never seen a group of intelligent people as we have here trying to go forward with their feet on the brake pedal. The future is coming whether they like it or not. In a few days, weeks, or months, you guys will understand what that means.

Cheers, NUK (and I do like reading your stuff)

Kevin "Hack" King

NUK_1's picture
Submitted by NUK_1 on Wed, 02/27/2008 - 10:12pm.

You sure about that?Smiling

I am rather neutral on district voting...it's not life or death either way to me. The "that's the way we have always done it" is a lame argument, but the point that Fayette County IS a lot better of than other comparable counties in several ways is a good one. Now, whether that has anything at all to do with the fact FC doesn't have district voting.....I don't think that's a big reason.

I don't get Steve Brown's crusades at all and I don't get the OH MY GOD NO-district-voting crowd. Is this the biggest issue in FC right now? No, it's not. I do enjoy the teeth-gnashing and anguish from both, though:)

By the way, you're way too smart and decent to be a dedicated Democrat and Obama supporter. Stay away from the light!

AF A-10's picture
Submitted by AF A-10 on Wed, 02/27/2008 - 10:17pm.

I'm finally going to get rid of the W, Worst Ever sticker on my FX and replace it with Obama 08 as well. The positive message is contageous. Oh, and my wife is scared to drive a car in Fayette County with Worst Ever on the back. Personally, I can't see voting for a guy who promises to continue on the path (economic and foreign policy) that we've been on since 2001. Have you seen the latest inflation, consumer confidence, and housing value numbers? You want more of this stew? No thanks

Good night, bro

Kevin "Hack" King

bad_ptc's picture
Submitted by bad_ptc on Wed, 02/27/2008 - 11:37pm.

Hack, I thought you said your were sending undisclosed amounts of money to Hillary. Does Mrs. Hack know that you've changed sides?

I guess you wont be seeing the Corvette parked in you driveway anytime soon.

Submitted by skyspy on Wed, 02/27/2008 - 10:01pm.

The last time I heard that was 20yrs. ago, in clayton county.

History does repeat itself, if we let it.

The furture what?? Crime wave?

AF A-10's picture
Submitted by AF A-10 on Wed, 02/27/2008 - 10:09pm.

MAde and kept so by a system of district voting; a system which is decidedly American and almost universal, with the exception of a few counties still trying to fight the civil war.

If you can tell me how district voting brings crime, I'll try to follow your thesis.

Kevin "Hack" King

Submitted by skyspy on Wed, 02/27/2008 - 10:23pm.

I'm just looking at the counties immediatly surrounding us. fulton, clayton, dekalb.

The best or worst example of district voting is fulton county. Specifically it got to the point where communities in N.fulton, felt that they were unfairly having their money spent disprpotionatly on S. fulton. They didn't like that. So Sandy Springs, Milton, Johns Creek all became their own cities to keep their own money.

Maybe S.fulton is doing great without the extra money.

I guess "at large" voting doesn't seem unfair to me. Everyone who is a resident in the county gets to vote.

Then of course we get to the next issue which is politicians for the most part are as trustworthy as copperheads. Look at our current politicians that have been elected with district voting. In my opinion not once have they listened or seem to really cared about the needs of the people in their district.

I think when it comes to politicians we are hosed either way. It just seems like the other counties right now are more undesirable to live in. That is why I live here.

Submitted by Spyglass on Wed, 02/27/2008 - 1:20pm.

You are saying Fayette County should not be able to have At-Large Commission voting just because the State of Georgia doesn't have it for their State Reps/Senators? I fail to see how the two are connected. The State has chosen it's way to elect it's Officials, and Fayette County has chosen it's way. Are we in Fayette violating something in the State Laws? IF so, we are far from being the only County in the State not doing it "YOUR" way.

What else do you think the State should control in local politics?

One other thing, your letter reeks of sour grapes.

Submitted by Jones on Wed, 02/27/2008 - 9:00pm.

Steve was saying if Matt Ramsey thinks district voting will cause Fayette County to fall apart then why doesn't Matt complain about his being elected within Fayette County by district voting?

I don't know the facts, but if Steve is right about the districts being formed in 1863, there is serious neglect going on here.

And I think it is pretty clear in Steve's letter he opposes state control of local affairs.

Submitted by Spyglass on Wed, 02/27/2008 - 9:20pm.

Steve is for district voting in Fayette, and I'm against it. That was one of my main reasons for coming against Brown in the election.

I made my point about Fayette County being different from the State of Georgia, did you misunderstand?

Comment viewing options

Select your preferred way to display the comments and click "Save settings" to activate your changes.