Kyle Wingfield

Political commentary and opinion from The Atlanta Journal-Constitution's conservative blogger

The GOP way

(The following is an imaginary phone conversation between two Georgia Republicans.)

“Howdy, Johnson. It was great seeing you and the missus at the inaugural gala last week.”

“Likewise, Brown. I’m glad our guy pulled it off in November.”

“Yep, and now it looks like he and the legislators are tackling some of those big issues you and I talked about last year .”

“Well …”

“Oh, now don’t go on again about Republicans dodging the big issues, Johnson. They’re talking about a billion dollars -- maybe two -- for transportation . They’re talking about overhauling public education . That’s serious stuff!”

“You’re right, and I’m glad they’re talking about it. But I’m a little worried about the way they’re talking.”

“What do you mean?”

“Well, Brown, I’ve had this nagging feeling for a while. And then something clicked while I was watching the State of the Union the other night.”

“Go on.”

“Maybe it was seeing the GOP in total control of Congress for the first time in eight years. Or maybe it was seeing them still have to share power with a Democratic president. But it made me think about the last time we had all the levers of power nationally, and how our failure to deal with certain issues -- health care, immigration -- gave the Democrats the chance to do those things their way once they got back in power.”

“You mean we got Obamacare instead of a more market-based approach.”

“That’s one example.”

“OK, Johnson, but how does this relate to Georgia?”

“Listen, we did a lot better on Election Day than the polls indicated. But we all know this state will be harder for Republicans to win in the future. So, in the meantime, shouldn’t Republicans tackle all the big issues our way? The conservative way?”

“Well, aren’t we?”

“I’m not sure. I hear about a lot of Republicans who won’t vote for anything at all that even looks like a tax increase for transportation, to the point the leadership will have to court Democratic votes. Now, what kind of package do you think those holdouts’ constituents would like better: One that only needs Republican votes, or one that veers leftward enough to get a bunch of Democrats?”

“I’d guess the former.”

“Me, too. The same goes for education reforms -- and a whole bunch of other things folks aren’t even talking about right now. I mean, what’s the first thing Democrats would try do if they won even a little power?”

“Expand Medicaid? Dump money into schools without demanding reforms? Spend as much on MARTA as on road paving? Raise taxes?”

“All of the above, Brown. And it’ll be a lot easier for them to justify doing that if we haven’t made changes more to our liking and given them time to start working. We need to find our way to make health care more accessible to people; to support transit where it can work but focus on roads where it can’t; to fix the public schools while also giving people choices; to pass some meaningful tax reform.”

“I’d a whole lot rather do those things now, even if I don’t like every bit of it, than give the liberals an opening to go whole hog their way.”

“You, me and 1,345,235 other Georgians .”

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About the Author

Kyle Wingfield joined the AJC in 2009. He is a native of Dalton and a graduate of the University of Georgia.