Once upon a time, elected Democrats and Republicans were able to operate under the presumption of good faith. In the increasingly heated rhetoric on display today, both parties often find themselves vilifying one another and accusing the opposition of working to undermine the well-being of the state, the country, or even the local town. Americans should strive to remember that most elected officials in both parties work to improve the places in which they live, despite having different ideas on how to make that happen. Of course, some ideas are better than others.
Fortunately, Georgia’s new House Minority Leader, Representative Bob Trammell (D – Luthersville), is a man with some very good ideas. He was kind enough to sit down and share some of those ideas with me, and after that conversation, I feel confident that House Democrats are in exceptional hands. He emphasized the fact that “Medicaid expansion will continue to be [their] number one priority.” Having grown up in a rural part of Georgia, he is intimately familiar with the rural healthcare crisis and that “the annual injection of billions of federal dollars that come from the expansion of Medicaid would go a long way to staving off some of the imminent financial woes facing our most vulnerable hospitals.” Medicaid expansion may not be a new idea, but chaos at the federal level is no excuse to leave Georgia’s most vulnerable citizens in limbo.
Unsurprisingly, he also voiced his support for more equitable access to a quality education for Georgia’s students, both K-12 and post-secondary. Education is one of the last great economic equalizers in this country, so it is imperative that “every student who wants to pursue post-secondary education has the opportunity to do so.”
Finally, he championed the concept of a living wage. “We want a state where working Georgians can make a living wage. We are the number one state to do business, but we also want to be the number one state to make a living.” Living wage legislation is often made out to be some sort of “progressive” or “liberal” idea, which is disappointing. There should be nothing controversial or partisan about the idea that people who spend 40, 50, or 60 hours working deserve to fairly benefit from the sweat of their brow.
Georgia’s citizens have much to gain from an agenda that emphasizes quality public schools, access to health care, and the ability to earn a living wage. However, implementing that agenda will require a larger presence from Democrats under the Gold Dome, and Leader Trammell has no shortage of ideas regarding how to accomplish that goal.
He plans to help communicate his agenda in order to “not only gives voters a reason to vote, but to help channel the excitement and enthusiasm among grassroots volunteers and community leaders into powerful advocacy on behalf of our candidates in 2018. We will make this case not only in the most competitive races, but all over Georgia. Voters want choice, and we need to give them that choice, no matter where they live in Georgia.” For too long, Democrats have been unable or unwilling to compete across the state, but it is clear that Trammell plans to make as many of the 118 GOP-controlled districts as competitive as possible.
I believe Trammell is in a good position to make progress on many issues that have been stalled for the last ten years. The election of the current Republican president has fired up Democrats and independents all over the country, including Georgia. Now is the time to capitalize on that energy to get Democrats elected and turn the Democratic agenda into actionable policy. With Trammell at the helm, that may just happen.
Tharon Johnson is a consultant with Paramount Consulting Group and a Democrat strategist.