The Art of Hostage Taking

Conservatives in Washington, slowly, have learned to take legislative hostages. They have not yet learned that sometimes you must be prepared to shoot those hostages. But they are getting there.

There come times in every legislator’s career that he has to man up and fight like hell for what he believes in. That fighting must sometimes be ruthless fighting. That fighting sometimes means taking a bill hostage, potentially letting it die, for the greater goal and good.

More and more, conservatives are waking up to the fact that we are no longer red states versus blue states. We are more often than not conservatives fighting monied interests. The inclination in supposed red states is to play nice with the leadership. But the leadership in many supposedly Republican states has become more and more in tune with corporate interests and not with those of voters.

Georgia is such a state. The Speaker of the House David Ralston, yesterday held a press conference and accused me of being a monied special interest only advocating for Georgia’s Religious Freedom Restoration Act because I am getting bought off.

I have been bought, but it’s with the blood of Christ, not special interest dollars. Ralston, on the other hand, has received tens of thousands of dollars from organizations that oppose the Religious Freedom Restoration Act. Ralston has punted the legislation to the Georgia House Judiciary Committee where Georgia State Representative Wendell Willard intends to form a special committee for the sole duty of neutering and gutting the religious liberty law. He’ll then make sure it passes so he and Ralston claim they support it.

The Religious Freedom Restoration Act is a popular piece of legislation. Conservatives in the Georgia legislature need to man up and take hostages to fight for RFRA.

Currently, Governor Nathan Deal’s education plan sits in the House of Representatives. His and Speaker Ralston’s transportation tax increase is in the Georgia Senate and will go to a conference committee. While the tax increase only needs a majority vote, the education plan needs a two-thirds vote of the Georgia House. Then there is the state budget. If Republicans put too much in to attract Democratic votes, a number of Republicans suddenly have political liabilities in districts where my microphone reaches. It’s worth noting every state legislative race in which I participated in the primaries saw my guy win, including beating the incumbent Senate Banking Committee Chairman.

Conservatives absolutely have the votes to kill Governor Deal’s plan. The Governor has sat silently as RFRA dies or gets gutted. While Governor Deals’ education plan is a great plan that I not only fully support, but think would get great results fixing Georgia’s schools, I have no doubt the Religious Freedom Restoration needs to pass the Georgia House without amendments that gut it.

Conservatives in the Georgia House and Senate need to marshall their forces and take both the education plan and transportation plan hostage. They need to be willing to kill both pieces of legislation in order to get S.B. 129, the state’s religious liberty law, through the Georgia House without amendment.

If conservatives in Georgia’s legislature do not stand up to their leadership on this issue, they’ll have given the leadership an easy out with no consequence. There must be a consequence for what the Republican leaders in Georgia are doing. They must not be allowed to neuter, gut, or kill RFRA.

Conservatives in the legislature need to start taking hostages and not release them until RFRA passes without amendment. They must make this session of the legislature more painful for the leadership than the leadership has thus far tried to make it for them.