Divisiveness hinders U.S. and Georgia

By Bardin Hooks

The greatest challenge facing our state and nation is the partisan divisiveness that dominates our political landscape.
Compromise has become a dirty word in American politics, and it shouldn’t be. Compromise is the very foundation of our political system, and its scarcity is a serious threat to our future prosperity.
Divisiveness has frozen Washington in perpetual gridlock, with Democrats and Republicans refusing to compromise on nearly every issue.
Partisan gridlock is less of a problem in Georgia, where one party controls near-supermajorities in the General Assembly, as well as the governor’s office.
Yet in Georgia, we still feel effects of political divisiveness. Consider, for example, last summer’s vote on the proposed T-SPLOST. Viewed objectively, the T-SPLOST should have passed easily.
After all, voters have been clamoring for bipartisan measures to move the state forward, and the T-SPLOST was just that – a statewide initiative, divided into regional plans, where every contingent and view was represented. It was a compromise. Every region got something, but no area got everything.
The demise of the T-SPLOST became inevitable when special interests and politicians from the extremes of both parties turned against it. Such groups and ideologues are the same ones responsible for the gridlock in D.C. today.
Yet, despite the rampant partisanship in federal government, we Georgians can be proud of bipartisan efforts closer to home, especially the excellent working relationship between Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed and Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal. From landing new manufacturing plants to securing funding to deepen the Port of Savannah, these men have scored wins for our state by putting the public interest ahead of politics.
Voters should reward such efforts, and I hope that other politicians at all levels of government take note of these leaders and emulate their relationship.
Georgia is a diverse state – geographically, politically, and culturally. We need to recognize that our future prosperity depends on liberals and conservatives, cities and counties, and urban and rural interests working together to move Georgia forward.

Bardin Hooks is an attorney in Americus.

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