The Georgia Tea Party is rallying their troops and getting ready to battle against the vote to approve a 1% sales tax which will go towards building regional transportation projects that were just approved. Is this a good move? Why are they rallying against it?
If you have ever visited Atlanta you know how bad the traffic is there. If you have lived in Atlanta a long time (such as myself), you also know that the Georgia government has done a poor job supporting the transportation needs of the Atlanta area. Year after year, administration after administration, the can has been kicked down the road. All while growth has been skyrocketing and the roads have become more and more cluttered. Meanwhile, alternative forms of transportation are poor at best. The rail system in Atlanta, MARTA, is known for not connecting places it should (it doesn’t even go to the Braves stadium) and doesn’t even serve one of the major metro counties.
With all that in mind, it is clear that a transportation overhaul is in line for the Atlanta region. This includes building new roads, building new rail lines, and expanding MARTA. The problem is, these things aren’t free. They cost money to build, which is why all of the mayors and county commissioners from across the Atlanta region finally approved a massive list of projects to build once a regional tax is approved by the voters. This in itself was a massive undertaking since many of these people are from opposite sides of the aisle. They came together though and got it done, because they realize the situation the Atlanta region is in and know that these transportation projects will help keep Atlanta growing.
In comes the Georgia Tea Party. The Tea Party has become the party of no taxes no matter what. They intend to fight the proposal on this principle alone. They do not care that Atlanta needs to build new roads and new rail to continue to grow. They do not care that Georgia ranks 49th in the country in per-capita spending on transportation. They do not care that businesses use transportation concerns as a criteria for deciding whether or not to locate themselves into the region. They do not care that these projects will help everyone in the Atlanta region and the entire state of Georgia. They are concerned with one word. Tax.
To the Tea Party the word tax put the whole plan off the table before they even heard what it would do for the region, the people, and the state. Once they heard the word tax, none of the benefits mattered anymore. They are standing on principle. No new taxes. Lower taxes. Period.
Therein lies the problem with how the Tea Party movement is operating not only in Georgia, but across the nation. They are acting out like small children. It’s my way or the highway. If I don’t get what I want, you can’t have anything. Compromise is for losers. Forget whether or not a deal would help out the region, state, or country. They are operating on principles which cannot be broken. Many people are applauding them because of that very fact. Finally a group that stands on principle no matter what! But that can become very dangerous.
The Tea Party almost derailed the debt ceiling bill because they demanded a balanced budget amendment. The dysfunction in Washington has already led to the downgrading of America’s debt rating for the first time in history. All of these things are bad for the country. We need to get everyone together and work out our differences. We need to make things work in government!
Government operates on compromise. If you cannot get together and work out an agreement between different parties, you don’t belong in government. Not compromising and dictating what will or will not happen is for… well… dictators. Working together to broker a compromise that will help the people, which both sides can agree to, is what our democratic republic is all about. That is what we need more than ever now. Unfortunately, it seems that the Tea Party, both in Georgia and across the nation, isn’t interested in compromise. They want to dictate the terms and conditions of the deal. It’s my way or the highway.