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Elephants are evolving

POSTED: March 16, 2009 10:49 a.m.
Did I hear somebody say “change?” The word is too mild. Try “train wreck,” if you are a Republican. “A new beginning” may fit your feelings better, if you voted Democratic in the last presidential election.
In either case, I have the feeling that our political nation is about to be turned upside down. President Barack Obama has drawn up a national to-do list that may require an administration of miracle makers to accomplish.
The country is on the edge of owing a horrendous debt created by the Democrats to rescue us from the economic chaos of the previous GOP presidential administration.
Workers in the steel mills and auto plants of America may feel a faint hope. After years of decline, American-made cars and steel could be poised to bounce back on the strength of a bailout.
If you’re from the Midwest, you may feel a rush of opportunity springing from the energy crisis. Vehicles fueled with the equivalent of corn liquor could save us from the oil barons.
The great universities of New England and California may be free to enter a new era of scientific research that will propel America to the head of the line in healing and preventing diseases.
It may take a year or even two years to determine whether the new dreams for this democracy can materialize: whether we can make better cars and more money, whether we can teach our kids to be as smart as the Chinese or Indians, whether innovation and creativity are still the bywords of this hustle-and-bustle society.
And it may take a year or two to determine whether the American South can bounce back as the region of new dreams and endeavors.
Scanning voter statistics from the last election, one would have to conclude that the South of 2009 is in about the same position as it was in 1929: running short on leaders and long on dopes. Unless Obama’s scenario for the future changes dramatically, the South is not going to play much of a role in the reinvigoration of a nation. We have been left out in the cold.
Few Southerners and almost no Georgians have been tapped for leadership roles in the Obama administration. That is hardly surprising. Obama drew relatively few votes from Georgia and other Old Confederate states. America may have shown it was ready for a black president. The South, and especially Georgia, demonstrated it was not ready for a Barack Obama.
In the early days of his administration, Obama signed an executive order rescinding President Bush’s restrictions on using public funds for stem cell research. Before the ink was dry on the order, Georgia’s Republican leaders drafted a state law to prevent government-funded stem cell research in the Peach State.
So much for the dreams. Georgia’s best minds had once envisioned Georgia and much of the South as leaders in stem cell research.
We forgot an old axiom: In the South, when scientific findings clash with Deuteronomy, Deuteronomy always wins. That is why some folks insist on calling us “quaint” and a few cutting-edge Georgia legislators still maintain the Earth is flat.
In much of the country, the election of Obama as president is regarded as our most remarkable political outcome in years.
In the South, however, the “most remarkable” certificate went to the Republican Party. Overnight, the Grand Old Party turned into little more than a regional organization with a one-word motto, “No!” Many of the same Republicans who constructed the trillion-dollar national debt in just six years are now staunchly on the side of frugality. “No, we’ll never get out of this debt,” said the Republicans as they blamed everybody from FDR to Jimmy Carter for our soaring pile of IOUs.
Some of those Republican senators are the same Republicans who drafted generous amendments to the bailout bill and then voted against the whole bill. That’s right, they voted for the bill before they voted against it.
At least one Georgia Republican left an indelible mark in our history books. Rep./Dr. Phil Gingrey sharply criticized radio talk-show host Rush Limbaugh for publicly hoping Obama would fail as president. Then a panicky Dr. Phil, realizing he had taken issue with the GOP’s generalissimo, hastily apologized to the fat guy with the golden microphone.
At press time, a duel for the Republican crown appeared to be shaping up between Limbaugh and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, who is credited with coining the phrase, “Kill all Democrats.”
Back in Atlanta, remnants of the old Republican Party shook their heads in disbelief. Georgia Republicans had not been viewed as such political oddballs since moderate Republican challenger Newt Gingrich of Carrollton ran against incumbent Democratic Congressman Jack Flynt of Griffin back in the mid-1970s, and lost in a landslide.

You can reach Shipp at P.O. Box 2520, Kennesaw, GA 30156, e-mail: shipp1@bellsouth.net, or Web address: billshipponline.com.
 

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