Down with the political duopoly 

Other parties rally to break the stranglehold on elections

I was wrong. Oh, lordy, was I wrong. And never have I felt so good about being wrong.
Last week, in a fit of self-flagellation, I bemoaned the fact that no candidate had the backbone, guts and ethical cojones to speak the truth about political reality in Georgia. Specifically, I decried the fact that I had yet to hear a wannabe declaim that they were "outraged and mad as hell at all of the scuzzy, slime-encrusted, morally diseased vermin who occupy public office in this state."

Nor had I heard anyone describe their platform as: "Screw this economic development shit. Screw the 'smart growth' crap. I want no growth, absolutely no growth until we fix the air, fix the water, fix the roads, fix the schools."

Well, now I have.

When a voice on the phone told me almost exactly the words I had used in my column, I was flabbergasted. When a second voice intoned another portion of my election-issue eruption (although paraphrasing, but that's forgivable), I damn near had heart palpitations.

Too good to be true? If Georgia's bosses have their way, it will be. Forever.

Unfortunately, most voters in this state (and the nation) are hornswoggled by the Democrat-GOP duopoly into believing that the "two-party system" equates with "choice."

The reality? In our Janus-faced political system, the two "masks" conceal the real men-behind-the-curtain -- the Enronites, the War Party, the corrupters and the corrupted, the anti-democracy demagogues. The political class, D or R, is thoroughly enthralled to the very same string-pullers.

True, with George the Usurper, we now teeter on a dictatorship whose mission is oil-imperialism and which masquerades as "fighting evil." Moreover, unless killing thousands of Iraqis is enough to save his ill-gotten presidency in 2004, Americans may well see Bush stage his own Reichstag fire and put the final stake in the heart of our democracy. While I'm not sure there are Democrats quite so low among life-forms as the Bushies, the "liberal" wing of the ruling class' order-takers has done little but stand mute as the Republic is dismantled.

On a local level, the two sides of the political conglomerate are distinguishable but hardly distinguished. Do you really believe that Georgia would be much different if Roy Barnes was replaced by Sonny Perdue? The only change would be which group of well-heeled insiders would get the spoils. The Republicans might be a shade or two whiter, the Democrats a little more vocal with faux populist rhetoric. But the two rotten peaches fell from the same tree.

At a national level, yes, you can argue that Max Cleland is going to hold different views than a Saxby Chambliss or Bob Irvin on some issues -- but we're talking about tiny degrees of separation, variations not alternatives.

Yet, there are true choices, almost invisible (thanks to the media).

"I'm different," announces Nan Garrett. "I stand for every word you wrote, although I'd have to clean up some of your language for my mom."

And, addressing my rant on Georgia's ethically challenged political honchos, Garrett Michael Hayes: "You're damn right I'm tired of the corrupt political system, and I believe most people are. We're really sick of business as usual. The reason you only hear about them [Democrats and the GOP] is that the people who want special favors are the ones handing out the money. I won't hand out special favors, so I don't have big amounts of money to spend."

Although both of these people -- bona fide candidates -- have "Garrett" in their names, and they share some of my outrage, they don't have much else in common.

Nan Garrett is the gubernatorial candidate of the Green Party, whose general thrust is to gut the corporatism-run-amok ruling class in Washington. The Greens are fiercely in favor of real environmental initiatives (not the ersatz tree-hugging that boils down to "let's just poison the water and air a little bit"). And they're against the economic totalitarianism of the World Trade Organization, the International Monetary Fund, NAFTA and GATT.

Hayes, meanwhile, aspires to be Georgia's first Libertarian guv. The Libs are best known as the ones who favor abolishing the "war on drugs." Those who say "woooowwwww" at that position should read what the Libertarians really advocate -- total personal responsibility for actions. "Yes, I'd legalize drugs," Hayes says, "but I'd also have draconian penalties for people who commit drug-related crimes."

The Libertarian platform is much deeper than drugs. They believe in getting government completely out of our personal lives and the economy. Thus, depending on the issue, they are both left and right. Or maybe just something different.

Hayes, for example, is the only candidate I've met who concurs with a bit of heresy dear to my heart. Georgia's leaders want to take $3 from each man, woman and transsexual in the state, use the money to purchase 1,550 acres near Savannah, and give it to the giant DaimlerChrysler cartel. Plus we'd lavish the auto maker with bunches of other goodies.

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