by John Pezold
Special to the Ledger-Enquirer
Much has been written recently about the ongoing saga of recent budget cuts made by the politically powerful in order to punish Senator Josh McKoon. Multiple members of the Columbus delegation have admitted as much and apparently have no problem with the fact that bullying tactics are used on a regular basis in politics. This certainly isn’t the first time Columbus State’s funding has been held hostage over a member acting on his conscience.
In 2013, my first year in the Georgia House we were to vote on Senate Bill 24. I won’t bore you with the details other than to say that the politically powerful wanted it passed. When I made it clear that I would be voting against SB 24 because it went against my principles, I was issued an ultimatum: If I voted against the bill, funding would be cut for Columbus State and for an upcoming additional judgeship for the Chattahoochee Circuit.
All this happened on the tenth day of my legislative career. I had not even figured out where the bathrooms were. I had not been bombastic. I had not been argumentative. But all too often, the modus operandi of the powerful under the Gold Dome is to resort to the tactic of bullying and intimidation. I was bullied when I was a kid. My response after a few years was to hit the kid across the bridge of his nose with my science book. It worked. We are often reminded that patience is a virtue. However, being patient with a bully and refusing to stand up to him only rewards bad behavior.
Which brings us back to the question that we should really be asking: Don’t the people of Georgia deserve better than the politics of retribution? Aren’t we better than bullying? We are in a day and age when people don’t trust politicians for one simple reason: Once elected, many of us vote much differently from the way we campaigned. We’re not trusted because we allow garbage like this to occur and say, “It’s just the way things are done around here.” Yet there are countless examples of people actually doing the right thing and voting their conscience, and being punished for it.
The dictionary definition of the word “bully” is “to use superior strength or influence to intimidate, typically to force him or her to do what one wants.”
My wife and I teach our children that if they witness someone being bullied and they sit by and let it happen, then they are part of the problem. Bullying isn’t tolerated in our schools. When this kind of behavior is brought to the attention of school leaders, it is addressed clearly and swiftly. We expect our children to behave better than this. Why then are we turning a blind eye when grown men and women leading our state resort to these tactics?
State Rep. John Pezold, R-Fortson, is a Columbus native who represents Georgia House District 133.
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