The July 31 primary is almost upon us, and early voting has already begun. It’s time to declare.
Not about the T-SPLOST. Not today.
Nor about contested elections. I make endorsements for elections I vote in, and my Buckhead district offers me no say in the races that are among this year’s most impressive (the State Senate 6th District fight among Josh Belinfante, Drew Ellenburg and Hunter Hill), most interesting (the fireworks-laden 9th Congressional District contest between Doug Collins and Martha Zoller) and most infuriating (the 12th Congressional District, where Republicans seem to be working to let John Barrow squeak out re-election despite a new, more GOP-friendly map).
There are, however, some non-binding ballot questions facing both Republican and Democratic voters in this election. Here’s how I plan to vote on the GOP questions:
1. Should Georgia have casino gambling with funds going to education?
No. Georgians aren’t well-served by expanding gambling at all.
I’ve gambled in casinos a time or two but see no reason to have them here. Certainly not for development: Casinos don’t want their customers to spend money elsewhere. That’s why, during a trip to Tunica, Miss., a few years ago, I found little besides a Wendy’s and had to drive to the next town just to find a grocery store.
That, not the glittering Las Vegas strip, is what we can expect here. And as a friend said the other day, when was the last time you heard someone say they were moving their family to Biloxi?
People with the means to visit casinos in nearby states arguably can afford to lose their money. A local casino will attract those who can’t. The state shouldn’t be in the business of enabling them.
You might say the state already is in that business, via the lottery, and you’d be right. That’s no reason to go further.
Nor is money for “education.” (Let’s assume we’re talking about the HOPE scholarship.)
HOPE spurred growth in prestige for many state colleges. It spurred even faster growth in tuition and fees, as many colleges knew many new students, at least, would feel insulated from price hikes. If you’re on HOPE, that’s a good deal, if decreasingly so. If not, college is now less affordable.
The United States faces a bubble in higher education that reflects the worst of the housing bubble (people taking on debt they can’t afford, hoping for financial gains that are becoming illusory for many) and health care (too much of the cost borne by third parties). Georgia needs to figure out what that’s going to look like and how to deal with it, not pump more gambling-infused air into it.
2. Do you support ending the current practice of unlimited gifts from lobbyists to state legislators by imposing a $100 cap on such gifts?
Yes, as I’ve written many times.
3. Should active duty military personnel who are under the age of 21 be allowed to obtain a Georgia weapons carry license?
Yes. The idea is that soldiers have been trained to use weapons. I would also license others equally well-trained.
4. Should citizens who wish to vote in a primary election be required to register by their political party affiliation at least thirty (30) days prior to such primary election?
No. Voters would be better-served by reducing barriers for third parties to stage primaries, spurring competition.
5. Shall the Constitution of Georgia be amended so as to provide that the paramount right to life is vested in each innocent human being from his or her earliest biological beginning without regard to age, race, sex, health, function, or condition of dependency?
No, with an asterisk.
If asked whether I agree with the right to life for the unborn, I’d say “yes.” The problem with this “personhood” approach is it amounts to a Hail Mary pass from our own 30-yard-line on fourth-and-inches.
Such an amendment would allow no circumstances under which an abortion would be legal, except (possibly) when the mother’s life is threatened. This amounts to moving the goal posts significantly, at a time when the pro-life movement is making progress legislatively — though the efficacy of this year’s “fetal pain bill” remains to be seen — and in public opinion. (I wrote more about this shifting of the goal posts a couple of years ago.)
The progress on public opinion, however, practically vanishes without the most common exceptions (rape or incest, plus danger to the mother’s life). What’s more, these exceptions apply to a tiny fraction of all abortions. So personhood, which has been rejected in Colorado and Mississippi, sacrifices potentially big pro-life progress for purity of principle. That’s not my idea of a clear conscience.
– By Kyle Wingfield