THE WAY IT SHOULD BE
By John Berry
Last Wednesday at the 2nd Annual Poverty Forum I was honored to moderate a lunch panel on legislative and policy issues in Georgia. That panel featured Taifa Smith Butler of the Georgia Budget and Policy Institute and Kelly McCutchen of the Georgia Public Policy Foundation. As you are probably aware, these two organizations generally represent two different perspectives on public policy with the GBPI often considered the liberal leaning group and the GPPI the conservative leaning organization.
So, given the polarization that exists in the country today and considering the broad scope of issues that Georgia faces you would have expected some real fireworks; right? A real knock down fight. Kind of like we’ve seen in the primaries and general election campaign.
Well you know what? We didn’t see that at all. What we saw and heard was a deliberate, respectful, intelligent, and important discussion of some of the most important issues facing Georgia and the US. What we heard was two perspectives on how we can address issues like a Georgia Earned Income Tax Credit, Comprehensive Income Tax Reform, Minimum Wage, Workforce Development, Criminal Justice Reform, Education Reform, and other issues. And what we heard was that what separates the ‘right’ from the ‘left’ is absolutely not a chasm of difference that can’t be crossed. What we heard in many cases was respect for the other sides position and a reasoned approach to coming to a solution.
What a difference it was listening to this forum than listening to the rhetoric, vitriol, and noise surrounding the national general election campaign. As I moderated and listened I thought, ‘This is the way it should be’. This is how you accomplish things. By respectful, reasoned discussion and a refusal to get down on the dirt.
We have a Congress that does nothing because they can’t function in an environment of bitter political rivalry driven by the fringes on either side. We have two people running for the highest office in the land who are too busy telling us why we shouldn’t vote for the other person that they forget we really want to know why we should vote for them. They real reasons we should vote for them; not slogans but policy solutions.
And here in Georgia we have two people and two organizations that understand, discuss, and present reason, ideas, and solutions. Here in Georgia some are doing it the way it should be. As is often the case, Georgia is setting the example. Now if only others would follow.