Since finishing my Masters at the tail end of last month and moving back to Atlanta, I’ve gotten a little more dug into Georgia politics — which is on the cusp of particularly nail-biting election, as it looks like Michelle Nunn and Jason Carter may just pull it off. Carter in particular is a gifted politician, and despite coming from a presidential family was a former Peace Corps volunteer, married to a public school teacher, lives in fairly modest circumstances, and has no history of corruption — so basically everything Georgia’s Nixonesque governor Nathan Deal isn’t.
But despite Georgia’s increasingly likely Democratic tidal wave in November, there are a number of races where candidates are trying to out-do eachother in extremism. In my congressional district, where no Democrat will even be on the ballot in November (a real missed opportunity for me!), Bob Barr is trying to make a comeback by demanding that Georgia officials likely unconstitutionally bar the federal government from moving immigrant children into the state, and his opponent Barry Loudermilk is campaigning like this:
The classical “abolish the IRS” vehicle is the so-called “Fair Tax,” where you eliminate income taxes and replace them with a huge sales tax on most goods. It’s a pretty excellent way of slamming the middle class with an enormous tax hike while letting the rich, who have most of their wealth outside of regular spending, get off very, very well.
What’s more interesting here is that Loudermilk says that tax reform “can only be achieved by abolishing both the IRS and the current tax code” — as if anything else is simply subpar, the purview of RINOs. His mailer then instructs the reader that his replacement would be the “Flat Tax, Fair Tax, or Simple Tax.” I”m not sure what a “simple tax” would entail, but it does beg the question, who would be administering these replacement tax schemes? The first one he mentions, the flat tax, is an income tax that’s the same rate for everyone. Would fairies be in charge of putting it in place?
He also goes on to invoke the Tenth Amendment, the new trend among the far-right which, as my former colleague Ian Milhiser has documented, basically says most things the federal government does are unconstitutional.
What this long string of incoherent impractical recommendations adds up to is how you win a Republican primary in 2014. Folks like Barr and Loudermilk are hoping on a small turnout of the most ideologically extreme voters. There are a few antidotes to this, one of which would be for moderate Republicans to actually get out and vote (which is difficult, no one with money is pushing their causes despite any level of popularity, heck 58 percent of Republicans want to see a $9 minimum wage) and to act as a counterweight in this primaries, flood open primaries (hello Mississippi), or beat them at the polls (also very difficult, with congressional districts being badly gerrymandered).
All of those are not easy solutions, but it might help if folks just stop repeating the myth that the Democrats and Republicans are equally extreme and polarized (okay, maybe on issues where they virtually agree, but not elsewhere). I don’t know of any mainstream, electable Democrats running on abolishing prisons and jailing bankers, or whatever the equivalent to all this would be.