Thursday, April 13, 2006

Down home in Georgia

As a native Georgian, I have to say that I just really get a kick out of Peach State. The Republican-leaning multi-member blog is always giving glimpses to the inside stuff in Georgia politics, like the most recent "Campaigns & Elections" evaluation of the state's Democratic Party, which has just fallen apart in the past couple of election cycles:

In Georgia, for example, the Democrats are still recovering from the nightmarish 2002 elections that saw them lose not only the governorship (for the first time in 130 years), but also a U.S. Senate seat, the state House speaker, state Senate majority leader and – the final insult – control of the state Senate when four members switched parties. In 2004, the party could mount little opposition for an open U.S. Senate seat, and lost control of the state Senate.

Current Chairman Bobby Kahn is former chief of staff to ex-Gov. Roy Barnes, who went down in ’02. Known for an attacking style, he took over in 2004 and has received high marks while trying to swim up-stream.

“Bobby Kahn is an incredibly capable guy, really smart, but he’s tried to survive as chair in an environment where they’ve had a couple of really bad election cycles – and I don’t blame him at all,” said one D.C.-based Democratic strategist who spoke on condition of anonymity (Campaigns & Elections, April 2006)


Sad, sad. I was a super-loyal yellow-dog Democrat for the first 35 years of my life, and even more than 10 years after I walked away (the "Great Gun Grab of 1994" having a lot to do with that), it's still a bit sad to see that once proud party in disarray and disrepute. Long after Georgia's neighbors -- Mississippi, Tennessee, Alabama and South Carolina -- went GOP, the Georgia Democrats by their fidelity to the state motto of "wisdom, justice and moderation" managed to keep winning. And now it's all gone.

It's kind of like the collapse of the California and NY GOP machines in the 1990s. Most young folks don't remember the days of the early 1960s, when Southern California was absolutely ground zero for the infant conservative movement, or the the GOP golden years of the '80s when Reagan's enormous popularity made California a lead-pipe cinch for Republican presidential candidates in three consecutive elections (1980, '84, '88). There was similar situation in New York, where Jack Kemp had the Buffalo area and the super-powerful Long Island GOP kept the state in the Republican column.

Gone! And so, too, is the once unbeatable Democratic Party of Georgia, the party of powerful senators like Richard Russell, Herman Talmadge and Sam Nunn. Gone, gone, the mighty Georgia Democratic reign of governors that stretched back decades: Eugene Talmadge, Ellis Arnall, Lester Maddox, Jimmy Carter, Joe Frank Harris, Zell Miller. And, my goodness: Tom Murphy! If memory serves, Tom Murphy was the longest-serving speaker of any state legislator in the nation. I well remember when it was thought that old Tom would die in the well of the General Assembly and take that gavel to his grave.

Gone! All gone! All it took was a few key political miscalculations by Roy Barnes and Max Cleland to destroy the once-great party that dominated Georgia for over 100 years.

Some folks may be sitting pretty now, and think their power is a permanent fact of politics. But whatever your own political allegiance or ideology, if you care about politics, don't ever take anything for granted. Behold the doom of the Georgia Democrats and know this:
Sic transit gloria mundi ...

-- McCAIN

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