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Abrams v. Kemp – 2018 Georgia Governor’s Race

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The 2018 Georgia gubernatorial election is upon us, with voting to conclude on November 6, 2018. Stacey Abrams, the democrats’ nominee, faces off against Brian Kemp, the republicans’ nominee. Here, I hope to condense information about the race, the candidates, their views, and the issues facing Georgia voters this year.

Please note that, although I adhere to general ethics rules, I am not a journalist. I have tried to make this article fair and accurate, but I have biases, and this year they tip in favor of Abrams.

I tried to provide reliable evidence and sources to support everything stated in the article. A lot of it comes from the candidates’ own websites, as well as the Atlanta Journal Constitution. I highly recommend subscribing to the AJC (right now for only 99 cents a month), because it is the best local news source for Georgia. By subscribing, you’ll support local journalism, avoid the national mainstream outlets, and learn about local issues. In general, local politics matter more to our daily lives than national politics.

The article is broken down into two main parts. The first is devoted to Abrams. The second to Kemp. I’ll provide a biography of each and then move on to the issues.

Here’s a song for listening while you read!

https://open.spotify.com/embed/track/1XKSV7wf2Ikc5WUudHfuCl

Overview

I’ll lay out my opinions and biases up front. After reading interviews with the candidates, reviewing their biographies, and checking out their policy preferences and the decisions they made in their roles as public officials, I have concluded that Abrams is, by and far, the better candidate. I believe this is true whether you are conservative or liberal. God willing and the creek don’t rise, she’ll have my vote in November.

Stacey Abrams presents more specific policy proposals than Brian Kemp. Her website is packed with essays and plans supporting her proposals. She focuses mostly on business growth, government accountability, education, and military service members. She avoids culture war topics, for the most part. She supports LGBTQ+ protections, but it’s more a human rights argument than a culture war argument. She calls her vision for Georgia a “pragmatic” one. Her resume is very impressive. Her parents are both ministers who attended Emory University. She grew up lower-middle-class and became the valedictorian of her high school, going on to get a bachelor’s degree in interdisciplinary studies (including political science and economics), a master’s in public affairs, and a law degree from Yale. She was the Minority Leader for the Democratic Party in the Georgia House of Representatives, and at one point served as the deputy city attorney for Atlanta. She worked as a private tax attorney in Atlanta, too. She knows fiscal policy, politics, and economic policy. She speaks eloquently and puts policy above politics. She worked with republicans throughout her many years in Georgia politics and has a reputation as the same type of pragmatist she claims to be. That hurt her with some democrats in the primary, because they see her as too willing to reach across the aisle. It’s certainly a good trait for a public official.

Kemp, sadly, has gone the way of the national Republican Party, prioritizing fear-mongering over policymaking. He would rather point a gun at a teenager to stir up controversy than try to talk about policy proposals surrounding our gun laws. He doesn’t even try to make a rational argument for more lenient gun laws, in fact. He frequently brings up non-existent immigration issues (that he wouldn’t even have any control over as the governor of a non-border state) while failing to provide anything resembling a detailed outline for how to improve our state. He has no vision, except what he calls a “conservative” vision. While he might not have been a caricature of a republican at one time, unfortunately that is what he has become.

Kemp hopes to scapegoat his way into office. He may succeed, and Georgians will be worse off because of it. We have the choice between one candidate who is dedicated to putting aside controversial, yet largely irrelevant, culture war issues, in favor of working to find solutions to the problems facing our great state, and another who does quite the opposite. I hope you’ll vote for Abrams. I think that a strong defeat of the nonsense politics that Kemp has adopted will be a wakeup call for Georgia republicans, so they can get back to focusing on job growth and stop trying to make boogeymen to scare up support. And I think that Abrams will work smarter and harder than him, and we will benefit greatly.

Here’s another song!

Stacey Abrams for Governor

Abrams’ campaign website gives a brief introduction to her overarching vision for Georgia, stating that every “Georgian deserves the freedom and opportunity to thrive, but too many are being left behind or left out.” The site is then broken down into various issues, some of which overlap, so I will combine them for brevity’s sake:

  1. Education. She plans to do this with her “Bold Action for a Brighter Future Plan” to extend access to child care programs and pre-K, as well as improving the livelihoods of teachers and after-school programs.
  2. Government Ethics. She plans to do this by publishing her daily schedule to ensure that she is spending taxpayer funds appropriately, holding listening sessions in each congressional district during her first year as governor, and appointing a director of constituent services to link citizen concerns and requests with her administration, while also creating a “performance dashboard” to allow Georgians to see how we measure up to other states in a variety of subjects, including education, healthcare, transportation, and financial management.
  3. Voting Rights. She plans to do this by fighting voter suppression tactics and expanding access to the voting ballot, while hoping to end the cash bail system and decriminalizing traffic offenses and possession of small amounts of marijuana.
  4. Criminal Justice Reform. She plans to do this with her “Justice for Georgia” criminal justice reform proposal to improve court, jail, and prison sentences and lower incarceration rates and reduce recidivism.
  5. LGBTQ+ Rights. She plans to do this by supporting marriage equality and comprehensive workplace protections to prevent discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.
  6. Economics and Business. She plans to do this with her “Georgia Economic Mobility Plan” and “Georgia’s Advanced Energy Jobs Plan,” and she wants keep Georgia “Number 1” for business and living, touting her “multiple good ratings from the Georgia Chamber of Commerce, including an ‘A’ rating from the Chamber and the ‘Friend of Labor’ award in the same year.”
  7. Military and Veterans. She plans to help the estimated 700,000 veterans and more than 120,000 active-duty military members in Georgia by proposing a 6-point plan to protect Georgia veterans and military families from predatory lending, poverty, and healthcare issues, while prioritizing their financial education and economic mobility through supporting incentives for businesses to hire veterans and expanding mental health and substance abuse treatment to them.
  8. Health and Disabilities. She plans to do this by providing services and assistance to persons with disabilities and children in kinship care (being raised by grandparents or other non-parental relatives).

Biography:

Stacey Abrams is one of six siblings, originally from Mississippi, but her family moved to Decatur, Georgia when she was young. Her parents were Methodist ministers. She was valedictorian of her high school. She got a bachelor’s degree in political science, economics, and sociology from Spelman College in Atlanta. She received her master’s degree in public affairs from the University of Texas at Austin. She received her law degree from Yale. She is also a successful romance novelist who writes under the pen name Selena Montgomery.

Abrams worked as a tax attorney in Atlanta, focusing on healthcare and public finance. She was the deputy city attorney for Atlanta in 2002. She was elected to the Georgia House of Representatives in 2007, where she became the Minority Leader.

Gaffes and Scandals:

Abrams has been criticized for working with Georgia Gov. Deal while she was in the Georgia legislature to reform the HOPE Scholarship Program, wherein they sought to decrease the scholarship amount and fund a 1% low-interest loan program.

She owes more than $200,000 in debt due, at least in part, to student loans and family troubles. Roughly $50,000 of that debt is in the form of back taxes, while about $170,000 is in credit card and student loan debt. She has been fairly open about this, and she attributes some of the problem to the fact that she got a lot of degrees, including one from Yale, despite having parents who are both ministers and do not earn very much money. Her brother has struggled with addiction and has been in-and-out of jail, and Abrams says that she has had to help him and her family out, financially, adding to her troubles.

Traffic and Transportation:

Abrams supports expanding infrastructure projects, along with what she claims is the need for a “statewide approach” to transportation issues. Georgia has long withheld state funds from Atlanta, despite the fact that the city is the capital and also the economic hub of the state. The state budget is padded heavily by income generated from the city, but rural areas, understandably, don’t want to use state funds to focus on one particular region. However, they’re happy to reap the benefits from Atlanta’s booming economy, and there are good arguments in favor of bringing in state funding to expand public transit and roadwork projects (like almost every other major city receives from it’s state budget). Abrams appears to support using state funds to help unclog the Atlanta streets.

Business and Taxes:

Amazon still lists Georgia as one of the finalist locations for a second headquarters, and Georgia’s current Governor Nathan Deal has provided a huge incentive package to the online shopping giant. Some are skeptical about the alleged benefits of bringing Amazon to Georgia, especially given that $1 billion in tax breaks have been floated to seal the deal, while others think that the influx of an estimated 50,000 new jobs would help the state grow enough to outpace taxpayers’ investment.

Abrams has called for a “smart combination of tax incentives and purposeful investment” in order to bring Amazon into Georgia, comparing the push for Amazon to Georgia’s film tax credit, which made Georgia the Hollywood of the South. However, she urged caution on the bid, stating that while the prospect of being Amazon’s second headquarters is “wonderful,” lawmakers should make sure that the jobs pay well and that “communities around them benefit from those investments.”

She proposed her “Georgia Economic Mobility Plan,” which she argues would help Georgians “keep more money” in their wallets through an Earned Income Tax Credit. She advocates for a “Cradle to Career Savings Program” to encourage families to invest in savings and credit-building through financial literacy programs.

Abrams proposed her “Georgia’s Advanced Energy Jobs Plan” to expand advanced energy jobs, which she claims is “under-utilized” as a source of economic growth for “every county in Georgia.” This doesn’t include any specific policy proposals. It’s pretty vague.

She provides a detailed outline of what she finds important for a thriving Georgia economy. She wants to grow the film industry and our export business through an expansion of our ports, especially near Savannah. She co-founded “NOWaccount” to help “deploy capital to underserved businesses who need small cap investment to sustain or expand.” She wants to provide assistance to “small businesses and micro businesses” to help them navigate “existing incentives and contract opportunities.”

Abrams hopes to “invest in broadband for affordable, high speed internet access that connects rural Georgia with marketplaces and expands opportunities for students.”

She claims that she will “support our agricultural sector through research and training, technological development and innovations, and state initiatives” like the Department of Agriculture’s “20/20 program,” which seeks to ensure that at least 20% of school meals are Georgia-grown.

Crime:

Abrams proposes her “Justice for Georgia: A Plan for Fairness and Community Safety” program, which is a 5-point criminal justice reform proposal. She wants to eliminate the “cash bail” program and increase pre-trial diversion programs to keep nonviolent offenders out of our jails. This would allow us to cut spending while helping people stay at home with their families and keep their jobs. She also wants to remove criminal penalties for minor traffic offenses and simple marijuana possession, and, instead, to focus on civil penalties for these types of crimes, which would also help people stay out of jail and off the criminal record books, while putting more money into the court systems to increase efficiency.

She wants to raise the age of juvenile court jurisdiction to 18 and to continue the “Juvenile Justice Incentive Grant Program.”

Abrams wants to encourage what she calls “effective community policing” through “engagement with community members to proactively identify and address issues that impact the quality of life in neighborhoods.” She wants to “further assist law enforcement in obtaining the resources – including training and data-driven solutions – they need to protect the communities in which they serve.”

At no point in any of her interviews did she try to fear-monger or scapegoat. She recognizes that we do have crime in the state, but she refrains from trying to scare people into supporting her. This is exactly the kind of approach we need on crime. It’s not our main problem in Georgia. We’re a relatively safe place to live, all in all. But it’s one that should be solved with a cool head and an eye for solutions that work, not just ones that make us feel like we’re “tough on crime.”

Culture and Religion:

Abrams frequently talks about equality and fairness, especially in the labor market. She supports workplace equality for all, including LGBTQ+ persons, to protect them against discrimination in hiring and retention in employment. However, she mostly shies away from hot-button culture war topics, choosing instead to focus on ways to grow our state’s economy and make it a better place to live.

Immigration:

Abrams supports allowing DREAMers (immigrants who were brought to America as children and who don’t have criminal convictions but want to go to school) to pursue their educational goals. She wrote an open letter to Georgia’s immigrant community, stating that her “faith demands that [she] speak up for the voiceless and the vulnerable – that a soul finds rest only by doing the most for the ‘least of these.'” She says that her “soul rests with those who have made Georgia home – those who took the original promise of the Statue of Liberty.” She decries the “anti-immigrant rhetoric and actions” of the current presidential administration, which she calls “cruel” and “inhumane.”

She avoids discussing policy matters on immigration, which makes sense, because Georgia is a state, not a federal entity, and it is not even a border state.

Healthcare:

Abrams claims that Georgia’s “healthcare system is largely governmentally based,” which means that it “heavily relies on federal funding to maintain its capacity.” She states that we must “pursue expansion of Medicaid as both a stabilization and growth model” for healthcare. She supports expanding “telemedicine to support our rural health infrastructure, maternal health initiatives to lower our unconscionable maternal mortality rate, public health initiatives to reduce gun violence, and recruitment efforts among rural areas and communities of color,” among “other” initiatives. However, she doesn’t elaborate in the essay she provides on her website.

She wants especially to help active-duty military and veterans with mental healthcare problems and substance abuse by expanding Medicaid to increase access to healthcare and treatment programs for veterans who are eligible for, but not using, existing Veteran’s Affairs programs.

Education:

Abrams proposes her “Bold Action for a Brighter Future Plan,” which seeks to expand access to “high-quality child care programs, ensure affordable options for children ages 0-3, increase access to pre-K, improve the livelihoods of teachers and expand statewide access to after-school programs.” She claims that nearly 500,000 Georgia children “under the age of six have both parents in the labor force,” with inadequate access to proper childcare. She also says that the average cost of infant care in Georgia is “almost $7,700 annually – more than average in-state public college tuition – and these costs are rising.” She notes that children, particularly in rural communities, live in “educational care deserts.”

To resolve these childcare issues, she wants to eliminate “tax loopholes as well as the $58 million tax handout that diverts public dollars to private K-12 schools.”

Abrams has a 3-point plan involving investment in early childcare and learning, investing in K-12 education, and expanding opportunities beyond high school. This plan is fleshed-out in more detail in the link immediately above. In general, she states that she wants to increase support for “teacher recruitment, student transportation, AP course offerings, 4-H youth development, a strengthened library system, and after-school initiatives.” She supports smaller class sizes and less high-stakes testing, which diminish teachers’ abilities to connect with and impact their students’ outcomes. She also supports increasing salaries for teachers and budgets for schools.

As for higher education, Abrams hopes to reduce student debt by expanding the HOPE scholarship with HOPE 2.0, which is a need-based expansion for less wealthy students. She also wants to restore “tuition-free technical certificates and diplomas for students with a 2.0 GPA.” She calls for the creation of a “Cradle to Career Savings Program” that would create a savings account for children at birth to be used for higher education. She supports a “Student Loan Bill of Rights” to “ensure consumer protections” like are being implemented in other states, which she cites in that proposal. She also supports free SAT/ACT testing statewide, and wants to find a way to use “data-supported best practices” to help schools that find solutions to certain issues to be able to share those solutions with other schools.

She supports current-Governor Nathan Deal’s “Complete College Georgia” program as well as the “Momentum Year” program that offers grants for initiatives that help first-year students stay on a path to graduating on time.

Voting Rights:

Abrams founded the nonprofit New Georgia Project to help more than 200,000 Georgians register to vote. She wants to provide “automatic voter registration when voters interact with state agencies, public colleges, universities, and technical colleges,” find a way to allow online voter registration for everyone, establish same-day voter registration, and make sure that polling places are allocated fairly. She wants to expand early voting and voting on Election Day. She also wants to use “secure ballots, including, at a minimum, ensuring a paper trail for votes cast to increase accuracy, integrity, security, and confidence in our elections.” She claims that Georgia is “one of only a few states that does not provide a paper trail for voting,” which could expose our system to corruption.

She also wants to veto gerrymandered districts, which sounds good in theory, but which is vague and, probably, impossible. It’s hard to tell what she means by this, but I doubt she means anything.

Here’s your last song!

Brian Kemp for Governor

Kemp’s campaign website lists a “4 Point Plan to Put Georgia First.”

  1. Economics and Business. He plans to do this by reducing “ridiculous regulations and burdensome mandates,” working “with business people – not bureaucrats – to cut red tape,” and to stand firm “against healthcare reform that punishes small businesses.”
  2. Reform Government. He plans to do this by implementing a “state spending cap that adjusts with populations and inflation,” determine return-on-investment on state programs and tax incentives, and eliminating “wasteful programs, tax incentives” and bureaucracy.
  3. Help Rural Georgia. He plans to do this by giving “rural communities the same opportunities as the rest of Georgia,” bringing “high-speed internet to rural Georgia,” promoting “economic development and investment across the entire state,” and supporting agribusiness, farmers and small town startups.
  4. Put Georgia First. He plans to do this by defunding “sanctuary cities and campuses,” stopping “taxpayer funded subsidies for illegal immigrants,” protecting life, defending the 2nd Amendment, tracking and deporting criminal aliens, stopping gangs, reforming education and adoption, standing with people of faith, and putting the needs of hardworking Georgians ahead of special interests.

Biography:

Brian Kemp is from Athens, Georgia and is married with 3 daughters. He has a bachelor’s degree in agriculture science from the University of Georgia. He’s an Episcopalian. He was a Georgia State Senator for 4 years, and has been the Georgia Secretary of State since 2010.

He frequently calls himself a “small business owner,” which appears to refer to various investments in agriculture, financial services, and real estate management, although there is not much information about it online. It is not to be confused with Kemp Properties, a property management company from Athens owned by another man named Brian Kemp.

Gaffes and Scandals:

Kemp does not believe that Russia interfered in the 2016 presidential election, despite the conclusions made by U.S. intelligence agencies, and Georgia was one of only two states that did not accept federal assistance to secure its election-related systems. No major problems have been reported from Georgia during that election, although apparently Russia did try to attack the state voting system.

Kemp’s tenure as Secretary of State oversaw a giant scandal involving over 7.5 million voter records being compromised due to improper practices. In that instance, he supported federal involvement from the FBI, which seems inconsistent with his views about our election system’s integrity, as well as his frequent calls to increase security into our election system by requiring voter IDs, while admitting that there isn’t any evidence of a problem that the IDs would solve.

Kemp was Secretary of State during a Georgia data security breach that saw over 6 million Georgians’ Social Security numbers and other information given to the public, costing Georgia taxpayers over $1.2 million.  He does not appear to have been at fault or directly involved in any way.

Various complaints and allegations have been made about Kemp, in his role as Secretary of State, failing to properly investigate complaints into businesses that donated heavily to his campaign for governor. Kemp did not investigate numerous sexual harassment allegations against two Massage Envy clinics owned by Dr. Patrick Greco, who hosted a fundraising gala for Kemp’s campaign for governor. There has been no finding of fraud or wrongdoing on his part.

Although Kemp returned donations given by businesses that he regulated, he appears to have kept the donations from the individuals running those businesses, setting up a potential, albeit not certain, conflict of interest. For example, Kemp refunded over $6,000 to Williams and Assoc. Land Planners, but he kept over $10,000 from J. Williams Investments, which has the same address and registered agent, Jon Williams. There has been no finding of fraud or wrongdoing on his part, but I believe an ethics investigation is underway.

Traffic and Transportation:

Kemp notes that traffic congestion is a problem in Atlanta, but not in most areas of Georgia, and he believes that people “in Atlanta clearly will pay for congestion relief,” but he is not “so sure that people outside of Atlanta will.” He appears to side-step the question of whether state funds should be used to assist in Atlanta’s traffic congestion problems, considered one of the worst in the country, and instead talks about private sector innovation. He dismisses expanding MARTA and refocuses the conversation toward the “hyperloop.”

Traffic congestion is a serious problem in Atlanta. The city is the heartbeat and economic hub of the state. Without the tax revenue generated by Atlanta, the rest of the state would be in awful shape. It’s time that the rest of Georgia pitch in to help with the congestion that results from the income that benefits them, just like almost every other state does for their economic hubs. Kemp wouldn’t help the state through that, and we are likely to lose future business opportunities, including Amazon, without improvements.

Business and Taxes:

Amazon still lists Georgia as one of the finalist locations for a second headquarters, and Georgia’s current Governor Nathan Deal has provided a huge incentive package to the online shopping giant. Some are skeptical about the alleged benefits of bringing Amazon to Georgia, especially given that $1 billion in tax breaks have been floated to seal the deal, while others think that the influx of an estimated 50,000 new jobs would help the state grow enough to outpace taxpayers’ investment.

Kemp has publicly vowed to stay out of the courting of Amazon and to allow Gov. Deal to handle the negotiations, at least until the governor’s race concludes and the new governor takes over the reins. This seems to be respectful and wise.

However, Kemp has weighed in lightly on the subject of Amazon, stating that he will not rule out giant tax breaks for Amazon, so long as he can review every tax incentive and repeal those that don’t make economic sense. He also states on his campaign website that he wants to couple “a robust incentive package that benefits hardworking Georgians with a proven track record of pro-business government” in order to bring Amazon to Georgia “without having to compromise her values or sell-out to the special interests.” He fails to explain what any of this means or provide examples.

Kemp acknowledged that Georgia democrats would not vote against business friendly legislation, so it’s hard to see what benefit he would add, from a business perspective, over Abrams.

He talks frequently about cutting government “red tape” and making Georgia #1 for small business through “regulatory reform, targeted economic development, and enhanced connectivity.” He complains about the extensive business licensing requirements in the state, which do seem to be burdensome.

Kemp decries “special interests [that] are getting tax cuts while hardworking folks are stuck paying the bill,” but notes that the state’s film tax credit is “thoroughly vetted.”

He calls for an elimination of the “sales tax on high speed internet equipment for rural counties,” among other tax incentives to get the private sector involved, rather than “expanding government,” although he fails to give any specific examples of what that means. Notably, he and Abrams seem to have similar ideas on this point.

Kemp wants to make UGA the #1 agriculture school in the country and to create an Agricultural Workforce Development Program through Georgia’s technical college system to train future farmers and leaders.

Crime:

Kemp wants to create a new “criminal alien database” in Georgia to track undocumented immigrants who have broken the law, despite the fact that a similar proposal was struck down recently based on concerns about cost and effect, as well as constitutional issues. The Georgia Budget and Policy Institute, along with an army of Georgia judges, attorneys, accountants, and advocates, helped defeat Georgia SB 452 because it would create an unworkable system that would undoubtedly lead to Fourth Amendment violations and would likely cost over $6 million per year to implement, while leading to no measurable gains for Georgia residents.

He worries about gangs quite a bit, claiming that there are over 1.4 million gang members in America. He also claims that there are 127 gangs in Atlanta with over 40,000 members who cause “more than 50% of the region’s violent crime.” Lagrange “boasts 700 gang members and Savannah has nearly 2,000.” He says that “no one is safe from their wrath.”

Kemp wants to setup a “public awareness campaign to inform citizens of gang activity … and provide public safety resources,” as well as to allow the Attorney General’s office to “prosecute gang cases multi-jurisdictionally” and provide “funding for a specific unit at the state level.”

This is, simply put, scaremongering. I’ve lived in Georgia for 30 years and have never heard anyone (except a prosecutor assigned to gangs) complain about the gang problem, and I have lived in downtown Atlanta, East Atlanta, the westside, and Little Five for many years.

Culture and Religion:

Kemp supports the so-called “religious liberty” style bills that come up regularly in Georgia and across the country. The bills are controversial, with some people claiming that they would allow businesses to discriminate under the false-pretense of “religious” beliefs, while others claim that they ensure that persons can practice their religions freely in the state. There are also concerns about these bills dissuading investment in the state, like what happened in North Carolina with its anti-transgender bathroom bill, which allegedly cost the state more than $3.7 billion in business over a decade.

Georgia’s current Gov. Deal has vetoed religious liberty bills in the past, most recently in 2016, in large part because of it’s potentially negative impact on business investment.

I’ve never heard of a business owner in Georgia being incapable of practicing their religion, so I don’t see the point of such a bill. It mostly appears to be something to get votes, despite having no substance, while running the risk that it would create opportunities for further discrimination against vulnerable populations.

Kemp supports a “tax-free holiday for gun buyers,” although he doesn’t explain why. Despite growing up surrounded by guns, gun owners, hunters, and gun enthusiasts, I’ve never heard anyone complain about needing a tax-free holiday to buy more guns. This seems like a truly stupid idea.

Immigration:

Kemp approved and participated in an advertisement stating that he would personally drive around in a truck to “round up illegals,” which he presumably would not do under any circumstances. He has a flair for the absurd and offensive.

Kemp frequently talks about government policies that prioritize “illegal” immigrants over our own citizens, despite the fact that there are absolutely no such policies in existence, which shows his intention to use fear and prejudice to turnout the vote. Specifically, he says we must “cut off taxpayer-funded benefits like free healthcare for illegal interests,” although no such program exists. The link on his campaign website simply redirects back to the issues page, creating a never-ending loop of nonsense.

He says that so-called “sanctuary cities are dangerous, unlawful, and defy our Georgia values.” However, he does not provide any examples, and I could not find any examples of problems in our state.

Although he is running to be governor of a state, which has no federal oversight or involvement and is not even a border state, he decided to devote an entire page to federal immigration policies. He claims we need a “border wall” and that we should “deport criminal illegal immigrants from our jails and from sanctuary cities.” He supports the RAISE ACT and efforts to reform the H-2A visa program to provide a labor force for Georgia farmers. That would allow Georgia agri-businesses to hire foreign workers at higher rates than is currently allowed. He wants to end DACA (the program that allows immigrants – sometimes called DREAMers – without criminal histories who were brought here as young children to remain in the country without fear of deportation, unless they are convicted of crimes), although he doesn’t explain why.

We have a lot of immigrants in our state. They already face discrimination. Why someone who calls himself a “Christian” would want to use them as scapegoats to rile people up is beyond me. If he believes we have an immigration problem in the state, then tell it to our thriving economy and businesses and low crimes rates. But, still, if he thought it was a problem, he could make his case. He fails to do that. He ignores the fact that we have the toughest immigration court in the country, which deports thousands of people every year, and that we do not have an immigrant crime problem here. He chooses to focus almost all of his energy on this topic, despite the fact that it’s not of any significant concern to Georgians – except super racists.

Healthcare:

Kemp claims that “any noncitizen can walk into health care facilities and not pay a single dime and get services, and then we have Georgians – working Georgians – that are out there that are not able to get good health care or it’s costing a fortune.” He never gives a single example of such a policy, but, presumably, he’s referencing emergency rooms, which service everyone equally, and which he cannot do anything about as governor. I’m honestly at a loss for what he is talking about here.

He wants to grow “tele-medicine services through the expansion of high speed internet,” which appears to mean that he wants to improve internet. He also wants to “end the stranglehold of Obamacare” in favor of “Georgia-focused, free-market based healthcare reform,” although he doesn’t give more detail than that.

Education:

Kemp wants to double “SSO private school Scholarship Tax Credits” and “promote teaching in rural settings,” which appears to be meaningless.

He supports Gov. Deal’s “efforts to expand the HOPE Career Grant Program” in order to include “aviation, construction, logistics, automotive technology, and electrical line work.” He also seeks to add “additional fields to meet workforce needs in agri-business, forestry, and ag-tech.”

He wants to “reduce the number and impact of standardized tests by adopting the federal testing minimum allowed.” He and Abrams seem to agree on this point.

Kemp also hopes to help teachers by “reducing paperwork, unpaid duties, [and] micromanagement so teachers can actually teach.” This sounds like a good idea, although it’s vague, but Abrams has proposed something similar, so they appear to be on the same page, at least here.

Voting Rights:

Kemp has been accused of engaging in voter suppression tactics during his time as Secretary of State. He denies those charges, saying that he wants to make it “easy to vote but hard to cheat.” However, he supports very strict voter ID laws in order to prevent the threat of voter fraud, despite admitting repeatedly that there are no instances of illegal votes in Georgia. Oddly, he wants to require voter ID cards to solve a problem he admits doesn’t exist, but he refuses to acknowledge problems facing our voting system – which does not allow a paper trail to help secure the electronic system – despite that being a real concern.

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Why you should support the Libertarian Party, at least until the November election

The premise of this piece is simple: if you don’t firmly support Trump or Clinton, you should openly support Gary Johnson, the Libertarian Party’s nominee, at least until you actually vote in November. Also, politics and elections are a big picture long game, so you need to think about your support and vote as not just impacting this election, but the elections to come.

Although I would like to see you actually vote for Johnson in November, all you really need to do is openly support Johnson until then. The reason for this comes down to basic math: Johnson will be invited to the presidential debates if he is polling at a minimum of 15% based on the “average of five selected national public opinion polling organizations’ most recently publicly reported results, at the time eligibility is determined.

Brief History of the Presidential Debates

The Commission on Presidential Debates (the “CPD”) is a nonprofit organization founded in 1987 to regulate presidential debates in the U.S. It doesn’t receive government funding, but it was created by the Republican and Democratic parties for the supposed purpose of ensuring that presidential debates offer the best information to prospective voters. Since the 1988 debates, the CPD has controlled every general election debate and, only in 1992, has a third party been present at them. That year, Ross Perot attended the debates and went on to win 19% of the popular vote.

Why  Debates Matter

Not only do the presidential debates give candidates the ability to participate in high-profile arenas where they can share their views, but they also give the attendees an air of authority and significance. Millions of people watch them, pundits endlessly comment on them, and they expose the attendees to the public at large. Without a spot on that stage, a candidate has almost no chance of reaching the public at large. This means that third parties languish on the sidelines as  topics of interest for only the most politically-attentive Americans.

The debates also provide the only potential opportunity for candidates to directly engage with one another. Outside of the CPD-sanctioned debate stages, candidates tend not to interact directly, opting for indirect opportunities through their campaign machines and media to attack their opponents’ positions. But in the debates, they’re head-to-head, and this sharpens their contrasts.

Why Supporting Johnson Matters…even if you’re not a Libertarian

Getting a third party on the debate stages is important for our democracy. Voters have more than two choices, although most either don’t know that, or think it isn’t significant because the likelihood of a third party winning the election is too unlikely. To some extent, the latter camp is correct, because it would take a political miracle for a third party to win the general election this year. Getting Johnson (or any other viable third party candidate) onto the debate stage is a step towards breaking our country’s dependence on the two-party system. More candidates means more choices, and more choices means a better chance of breaking down the beleaguered beats the two major parties have gotten so good at walking. A third party could shake up the (increasingly transparent) holograms being broadcast by the two major parties.

Think of it this way: if you’re in a fight against one other person, you only have to watch out for attacks from that angle. But bring a third fighter into the mix, and now you’re vulnerable from positions you otherwise wouldn’t have had to defend. This makes it more likely for weaker fighters to get knocked out and strengthens better fighters whose stance can actually hold up against attacks from all sides.

Why You Should Vote for Gary Johnson in November

Put simply, a political party convention is eligible for federal campaign financing in a general election if it wins at least 5% of the popular vote in the preceding election. Getting this funding would be huge for a third party, because one of the biggest barriers to entry into this protected field is money. We have to think ahead, and although you might be right when you say that a third party could never win the election, you’re only partially right. After this election, another will occur in at least four years. After that, at least another four. And so on. To create real and lasting change, you need to play the long game. Your vote in November will have consequences for the next cycle. Don’t waste it on Trump or Clinton, unless you’re in a battleground state like Ohio or Florida and you actually want one of them to win.