What started as a commentary on voting trends ended as an attack on one of the few remaining legitimate public servants in the Georgia Legislature. I believe Sean Bennett’s comments on Senator Harbin’s service are indicative of the undercurrents that threaten our great American experiment in limited government.
The political arena is dominated by big money special interests and political operatives who have decided that the best way to advance their cause is to engage in “ad hominem” attacks.
For those of us who missed out on Latin class, it means “to the person” and is used in our language today to describe the style of debate or argumentation that attacks the person rather than discusses actual issues. This is one of the undercurrents – a hidden force dragging us away — that is slowly eroding our American culture.
I would like to address each of the accusations in order:
I am not sure what was meant by “managed to alienate the movie industry.” The movie industry is thriving in Georgia for a variety of reasons and Senator Harbin initiated a tour at Pinewood Studios for Georgia legislators allowing them to see up close the facilities in Fayette County. It was a delightful evening and gratitude was expressed by everyone in attendance. I know that he has continued to reach out to the leadership at Pinewood with invitations to various events.
“Punish Delta Airlines” was next. I think maybe it was Delta’s decision to punish the NRA that resulted in the loss of the jet fuel tax credit, if that was the insinuation.
The Lieutenant Governor removed it from the bill. Senator Harbin was not responsible for that decision. I’m aware of many employees and customers who were also disappointed by the decision that Delta made regarding the NRA.
A bit of history: the jet fuel tax credit was first initiated years ago when Delta was struggling financially. Today Delta is doing very well as a company.
One of the first things that passed in the 2018 Legislative Session was the Adoption Bill which Senator Harbin supported. This bill makes the adoption process in Georgia much easier.
He also supported a separate bill for faith-based adoption agencies which passed the Senate but did not make it out of committee in the House before the end of session. This bill, if passed, would in no way “hinder legitimate families in the adoption process,” as claimed.
Though Senator Harbin admitted that he did not respond graciously to the officer when he was told his property would be confiscated without due process, despite the fact that he had proof of sending in his payment, in my humble opinion, he did not “demean police officers” (cause a severe loss in dignity and respect for).
He spoke with many officers after the incident that said they most often showed discretion and did not impound the vehicle. But the officer who stopped the senator said that he had no choice because it was state law.
What Senator Harbin attempted to do was clear up that confusion with the “Tag Bill” — no seizure of property without just cause, replaced with a fine, and reasonable time to correct the issue. Better for the police officer and better for the citizen. The Georgia Legislature agreed with overwhelming support.
The next accusation I found very interesting — “legislate the use of Christianity as a means to discriminate against others.” I’m trying really hard to understand how he did that.
Thinking back over the last two terms, I know that the Georgia Legislature supported and passed a large measure of religious liberty protection in 2016 which the governor later vetoed.
Senator Harbin then introduced a simple bill — The Religious Freedom Restoration Act in 2017. This bill was the same exact language of the Federal RFRA which was passed in 1993 and signed into law by President Bill Clinton. (A congressman at the time, Nathan Deal voted in favor of this act.)
A few years later the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that each state needed to pass its own form of RFRA for protection in state and local matters. This act simply restores (thus the word “Restoration”) religious freedom to the same level as our other First Amendment rights.
There are 30 other states that have some form of RFRA. There have been no cases of discrimination as a result of this act. To understand and realize the importance of RFRA, please watch this brief video (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y_NLbdolmeY).
The bill, SB #233, that Senator Harbin introduced was sent to committee and remained there, never coming to the floor to be voted on by the Senate or the House in this last term.
I will add that most of those in the Republican Party who sought the office of governor, including both of the candidates in the run-off, pledged to support religious freedom legislation if elected. So obviously, this issue is important.
Moving on to the last one — “prevent a mother from seeking a medical solution for her child’s harmful situation.” I am not exactly sure what is meant by this either, but will make a guess. Cannibas oil?
Senator Harbin supported the use of cannibas oil for medical use in certain conditions, and then again when it was expanded to other conditions. There have been numerous bills with confusing language which could leave unintended consequences, and the senator is being very careful. Because of the recommendation of doctors to the caucus, he did not support the most recent measure expanding its use.
In a single paragraph Bennett joins with the establishment attack on Senator Harbin in a full-on distortion of truth. No discussion of the issues, just a regurgitation of the lies perpetuated by the Georgia and Metro Atlanta Chambers and their co-conspirators.
I believe the establishment (the hidden structure of power in the political arena) actually has very little preference for political party; they just want elected officials that will yield to their demands.
The establishment is content to “go with the flow” of the blue and red waves of our culture but they will not “tolerate” true public servants who are independent thinkers and uphold the foundations of limited government.
In my estimation, based on my service as a senator and involvement in the political world, Senator Harbin is one of the roughly 10 percent of elected public officials nationwide who actually take their oaths at their core, to uphold and defend the Constitution of our nation: a simple document formulated to secure the blessings of liberty for future generations.
A simple document based on the concepts that our rights come from God and not man; that life is a paramount gift from God and government should be used to protect it, not destroy it; that individual responsibility is better than government regulation; that the right to defend oneself and those we love is of higher order than obedience to the “state”; that the law should treat every citizen equally and not prefer one over the other; and that freedom of religion is not an ever-changing concept that should be restricted by cultural “waves.”
What about the other 90 percent (both Democrat and Republican)? Well they consistently do just what the establishment wants so they can get re-elected: provide preferential treatment under the law, special tax breaks, increased government spending, using the tax code to modify behavior rather than simply to raise necessary revenue, reckless borrowing, restriction of access to the market place, expansion of regulation, abandonment of principle for short-term benefit, etc. (Not very “American” ideas, in my estimation.)
Is a blue wave coming to Fayette County or our nation? Maybe … maybe not. It is not the waves that will destroy us, my friends; it is the undercurrents that erode our very souls.
I for one would like to see that 10 percent number grow on both sides of the aisle so that the common language in our halls of government is no longer money and power, but it is one of wisdom and integrity.
I am thankful for Senator Harbin and those like him that serve our states and our nation.
3rd District GOP Chairman
Coweta County, Ga.
[Crane is the former state senator representing the 28th District, comprising all of Coweta County and portions of Carroll, Heard and Troup counties.]