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Givens: Switch parties and well keep HOPE
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Are rhetoric and bad ideas the best we can expect from the Republican Party now that it has power? Can we expect intelligent leadership?

Gov. Sonny Perdue's education plan, like all Republicans', was to yell for local control and states' rights, then accuse the federal government of being to large all the while begging for federal dollars to pay for our state's own educational responsibilities. The federal stimulus dollars have run out.

Is Nathan Deal now suggesting Georgia take responsibility for its future and fund education, like our state Constitution requires? Is he suggesting the state review how education dollars are spent?

No, he's yelling "local control" even louder. Apparently each district must fend for itself. That means districts without a strong property tax base are about to face extreme cuts. It seems the Republican plan is to say that providing educational opportunities to rural counties isn't the responsibility of the state. Way to pass that buck!

The HOPE Scholarship was passed to give people who couldn't afford it a chance to go to college. It embodies teaching a person to fish versus giving them one. It is even paid for by a voluntary lottery. As revenues drop, it must face cuts.

Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle says, we must eliminate the "entitlement program" nature of HOPE. Calling it an entitlement program is political rhetoric because we all hate wasteful entitlement programs. Still, he has a point. Income caps to receive HOPE were removed making it a program all are entitled to.

So is Cagle suggesting we reinstate some caps insuring that the poorest among us continue to have the ability to go to college with the least financial difficulty, the very point of HOPE? No!

Maybe he doesn't want to discriminate against people that can actually pay for college. What he does want is for HOPE to stop paying for books!

How does offering the service to all but not paying for books reduce the entitlement mentality? Maybe he doesn't have much use for books but serious students find them quite useful.

HOPE is meant to increase the number of educated workers, educating those without financial means which in turn makes Georgia more attractive to commercial investment. Does Cagle realize how much college textbooks cost? The costs of books could easily keep someone out of school even if tuition is covered.

How did we end up with such poor leadership in office? Competition is the cornerstone of the free market. Two products fight it out and people vote with their dollars. Sometimes an inferior product wins in the marketplace because of a better marketing strategy. As long as people still have the option to buy the better product, does it really harm us if the inferior product is the most popular?

What if there is no consumer choice? What if there is a monopoly? Monopolies historically lead to consumer abuse.

Congratulations Georgia! Republicans now have a monopoly. So now, taxes will be lowered while the government will be reorganized to run like a business and then all will receive more services on less government spending. Don't hold your breath. Now that the voter doesn't have an option, I expect the Republican Party will do what it pleases.

Fun fact: To run as a Republican one must sign a loyalty oath to the party. This means that a candidate has sworn an oath to potentially support the decisions of the party leadership over that of his or her own reason or constituents' needs.

Do we really want a government where decisions are being made not by an elected Congress but instead in a political parties' executive board strategy planning committee meeting? Cagle stripped committee chairs of their positions for not voting as he felt they should.

Of course, our elected officials could vote as they see fit but that implies that their oaths are meaningless. So apparently we can now be governed by party dictate or by the dishonest. Do we really want to follow in the footsteps of Putin's Russia and have one-party rule?

I have two suggestions. All the Libertarians and every other disenfranchised political group should join the Democratic Party. This would provide ballot access to some worthy candidates who refuse to take the loyalty oath to the Republican Party.

The Democratic Party has a long and respected tradition of shifting itself on the political spectrum, so it fits with history. Working together people could end this one party monopoly.

My second suggestion is the opposite. We should all just join the Republican Party. They won't notice. They were all Democrats 15 years ago anyway.

Since all governmental decisions are made within the party itself, to truly have a say in government you must join the party and work from within. If enough people join the Republican Party, it may end up with no clear agenda at all. The primary could become the official election.

Seriously, we need more choice with regard to whom we can vote for. The days of having only one person on the ballot need to come to an end. Competition is the cornerstone of quality.

Brandon Givens is a Hall County teacher and occasional columnist.

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