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Georgias good ol boys club
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OK, so I talk to myself when I'm making my hour long commute. It's usually after something irritates me while listening to the morning news on the radio. Last week, however, I had a pretty constructive discussion with myself. Why do we keep turning to the same people to fix the problems we have within our government? At the federal, state and local levels we consistently turn to the "good ol' boys" to reform our government and solve the problems of today. Sure, with age comes wisdom. Other qualities that are acquired with age are paranoia, memory loss and corruption.

In a study by the Center for Public Integrity, Georgia was given the title as the most corruption prone state in the union. In response, our State Legislators slashed the budget for the State Ethics Commission and basically shut down the State Archives. That's sad, scary and the people of Georgia should be angry. Basically, our leaders at the Gold Dome decided that instead of fixing the problem of corruption in Georgia, they would simply make themselves less transparent. So they penalized the very commission that was put in place to make sure they are performing to the highest standard possible.

The problem in Georgia is the "good ol' boys." I'll lay it out plain and simple, we have elected, men who over time have shown us that once elected they will do whatever they want. Why? Nobody of any significance is complaining. They hide behind the guise of partisan and religious labels. They appear in public to be something they are not in private. During their campaigns, they strut around talking about social policy and floating empty rhetoric. After being elected, the politicians have secret, closed door meetings. They put out reports which are never audited. They exempt themselves from disclosing financial interests in state controlled projects. They allow banking regulators to operate in secret. What do we do about it? We cut them checks signed with kisses by the loving middle-class men and women who pay their state income taxes and never question a thing.

The only way to fix this problem is to begin recruiting young people from all walks of life into the political process. We need to look for young fathers who are involved in their churches, young women who volunteer their time to help children at the local schools, and hard working middle-class people who want to make a difference in their community. We need young people with new ideas, who haven't been corrupted by the "good ol' boys" club, and who aren't looking to make friends with the people who have tarnished Georgia's image.

The problems we face today are a direct consequence of our actions as voters. For too long now, we have sat back and watched as these same old men have had their way with our tax dollars. In order to clean up the mistakes of the past, we must begin our search for the leaders of tomorrow today. Our parents and grandparents' generations are the ones that contributed to the problems we face now. Perhaps by no fault of their own, maybe they simply trusted our politicians too much, or maybe they just weren't paying attention. Whatever the case, now is the time for a new generation of leaders to rise up and take control.

It's time for a call to arms. The ammunition we need is not gun powder and lead, but intelligence and strength. We must, as an electorate, find reasonable people to elect to state office. Men and women with the passion to succeed and the integrity needed to do the job the way its mean to be done. Now is the time for responsible reform. We must weed out the corruption that has taken over our State Capitol. Some people will say that I am being naive or overly idealistic. I say I am being an optimist who believes in the people of Georgia. Together we can change the tainted image these scourges have given our great state. Georgia can once again be the "jewel of the South." All it takes is the courage to speak the truth, the gumption to stand up for what you believe in, and the passion to make it happen. I refuse to sit back and watch my daughter's future be stolen from her. I assume that everyone reading this feels the same way.

So this is a call to action. If you are young and intelligent. If you are discontent with the corruption that has taken over our state. It's time to stop being concerned and start being active. You don't have to run for office, but you can. There are other ways to make change happen. Attend school board meetings, make your voice heard at the Board of Commissioners and attend town halls and other public forums. Next election season educate yourself on the candidates at the local and state level. Find a campaign and get to work. If you have children and feel like you don't have time, think again. You can phone bank from home, post content on your Facebook, talk to your neighbors, or you can get your children involved. This year, my daughter and I knocked on doors together; she handed out flyers and she attended the party on election night. Its never too early or too late to get involved in the process.

Ketchem is a salesman by trade with a passion for local politics and community issues.

I didn't write this to provoke a partisan argument. Even though I have been a Democrat all my life I consider myself a Georgian first and foremost. While I was growing up everyone around me was a Democrat. It wasn't until someone flipped a switch in 2000 that I suddenly found myself in the minority. Not the one to run from who I am just because a few radicals walked through the door on the national stage. I'll stick with what I know. I know who I am. I am a father, a son, and a brother. I am a hard worker, and a good student. When I talk to people we don't talk about what divides us, we talk about the issues that affect all of us. Most of the time we agree on the problem and there is usually a simple solution that everyone can agree on regardless of labels. We need to forget these partisan labels, and drop the rigid platforms which hold us back. It's time to think for ourselves and start working together to make our communities strong again. We can complain about people not carrying their weight and do nothing, or we can stand up and be the ones that take control.
At the end of the day we all have to deal with the fact that we will have labels. That doesn't mean those labels have to be dividers. Labels don't have to define who we are as people. If you're like me you are sick of the arguing. All I want is for someone to step up and fight for what we all know is right. We have problems in our local government and at our state capitol. The people who are in charge now are not making things better. They're as old and dated as the system which is failing. Their ideas have long been reality. If we are going to reform our system we must start by cleaning house. It's time for a new generation to take over and repair the mistakes that were made by our parents and grandparents generations. We are the change we have been waiting for.

Ketchem is a salesman by trade with a passion for local politics and community issues.