Are you fed up with politics? According to a recent Gallup poll, you aren’t alone.
The political climate in Georgia is more divisive and contentious than at any time since the 1960s. Stark divides are present not only between Republicans and Democrats, but also within the parties. Politicians are more indistinguishable from each other than ever before. Citizens are becoming disillusioned with the current state of civic discourse and the trajectory Washington has set for the nation. Many are becoming apathetic and just tuning out.
You might not want to tune out just yet. There are signs of the Gipper on the horizon. My attention was piqued by a news alert I received on Monday, Nov. 15, about Republican State Sen. Butch Miller, who is crisscrossing the state ahead of the May primary elections. Miller is a small business owner from Gainesville and was elected in 2010. He has served as the powerful Senate president pro tem since 2018. Earlier this year he announced he would run to replace Lt. Gov. Geoff Duncan who declined to seek a second term
The news alert I received was about the bill that Sen. Miller pre-filed this week (week of Nov. 14), which would entirely eliminate the state income tax. In theory, I am in favor of all tax cuts. His proposal is sure to please a large group of voters, but I’m not supportive of it yet. (See note for my reason.) Nevertheless, he caught my attention so I wanted to know more about him.
Having read his Senate biography and viewed his legislative history, I watched the interviews he’s given over the years. Eventually, I realized that Sen. Butch Miller — whether he knows it or not — embodies the conservatism Georgia voters wanted when they overwhelmingly backed Ronald Reagan in 1984. The conservatism that led to Georgia’s top ranking for business and second lowest individual tax burden per capita. Only Tennessee residents pay less than Georgians, according tohttps://taxfoundation.org/.
Sen. Miller’s message and vision for Georgia, as well as his conservative values and principles, closely align with the message President Reagan brought to Atlanta on Jan. 26, 1984, in Atlanta. Take a look at just a few lines from the President’s speech that night. The video of the speech is well worth watching. (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=phAyjg53iHY)
“I believe that I’m looking at citizens who don’t consider themselves Democrats or Republicans so much as just deeply patriotic Americans.”
“You are concerned about your country and determined to do all you can to make tomorrow better. And you are doing that. It’s people like you who show us the heart of America is good, the spirit of America is strong, and the future of America is great. You give meaning to words like entrepreneur, self-reliance, personal initiative and, yes, optimism and confidence. And you will lead America to take freedom’s next step.”
“Our economic program is guided by a spirit of enterprise that encourages risk-taking, rewards innovation, and involves millions of Americans making their own decisions.”
“Spending and regulations guided by common sense and fairness, a monetary policy that ensures lasting price stability, and a tax system anchored by incentives that reward personal initiative, risk taking, and economic growth — these are keys to a society of opportunities offering a better life for our people with no barriers for bigotry or discrimination.”
Reagan’s message to voters and his vision for the country never strayed far from his core conservative values. Those values have resonated deeply with Georgia residents at every level of society for decades, and platforms based on them have also triumphed in elections for decades. No one can match Reagan’s communication skills, but Miller’s message and vision for Georgia evokes the same hopeful patriotic spirit Reagan embodied.
In Butch Miller, Republicans have a candidate whose conservative convictions are not simply empty campaign rhetoric. His genuine belief in and commitment to values and principles, as well as his small town charm, make him an appealing candidate who may be able to reintroduce conservatism to a new generation in much the same way President Reagan did nearly 40 years ago in Atlanta.
NOTE: See the Charlie Harper column series on state income tax to see why I don’t yet support eliminating the state income tax. (Column 1 — https://www.georgiapol.com/2017/08/07/budget-facts-meet-campaign-rhetoric/; Column 2 — https://www.georgiapol.com/2017/08/14/no-georgia-isnt-florida-tennessee/).