Charlie Harper: Not in My Name, Or in the Name of My Party

Charlie Harper

Tuesday, March 1st, 2016

I will not be voting for Donald Trump Tuesday.  I do have a person for which I will be able to cast an enthusiastic vote.  This column isn’t about him, nor to try to persuade you to vote for or like him.  We have far more pressing issues, and there are things that must be said. 

In 1992, Georgia’s GOP blocked former leader of the KKK David Duke from appearing as a Republican candidate for President.  Then party chairman Alec Poitevant said "David Duke is not a Republican. He is not part of our process. He's a fringe candidate. He's a Nazi. We deplore his twisted mentality."

This is once where our state and my party stood.  The lines were clear. And we have prospered because of it.

Georgia has a unique place among the history of the civil rights movement. Our capital Atlanta, once burned to the ground during the Civil War, branded itself in the 1960’s as the “City too busy to hate”.  City leaders understood that a great future meant departing from the past.  We’re quite fortunate they settled on that instead of “Make Atlanta Great Again”.

The movement went far beyond a brand. We created a real opportunity for an African American middle class and additional ladders to true prosperity.  Goals of black and white united in the search of green.  Atlanta thrived well beyond its borders.   

By comparison, Georgia had but a few hundred thousand more people than neighboring Alabama in 1960.  Today the Metro Atlanta area is larger than the entire population of our neighbor to the west, and Georgia as a whole is more than double in size.  Working together to solve problems of deep division has served us well. 

Today our brand is at risk. Georgia Republicans will get to decide if we’re still willing to demonstrate we’ll work with those of us who may be different for the good of an entire state, or if we will align with someone who seems to have just discovered some of our values very recently while demonstrating a complete disdain for many things we should hold dear.

During the course of this campaign Donald Trump has advocated for positions that would eviscerate our Constitution.  He’s no fan of the first amendment, whether for freedom of the press or for freedom of religion.  …That would be freedom of all religions, not just the ones that read from Two Corinthians.   

He’s a man that is willing to call all citizens of our neighbor to the south “rapists” and block all Muslims from traveling to our country, but on the Sunday before Super Tuesday wanted to be careful not to judge all members of the KKK or their leaders too harshly.  I’m sure those that are endorsing Trump must be proud to know that almost a half a century beyond the life of Martin Luther King we have a would be President who wants to make sure the Klan gets a fair hearing. 

Donald Trump favors a strong central government.  So strong, in fact, that he praises Vladimir Putin and has in the past hailed the success of the Chinese Government in demonstrating strength when they put down the student rebellion at Tiananmen Square.  

It shocks me to hear those that would apologize for him compare this man to Ronald Reagan.  Ronald Reagan understood the power in having Michael Gorbachev tear down the Berlin Wall.  Donald Trump has unlocked the power of those who think that Mexico will build a wall for our amusement.

Donald Trump understands the value of a brand.  He has an ongoing dispute with Forbes and others over his valuation of his name.  It is a name that he sells in licensing deals.  Many of those have failed.  

Some, such as Trump University, are the subject of litigation with claims that he abused the hope of Americans down on their luck that wanted to learn a better path to the American dream.  What they got instead was a lesson on reading the fine print. 

There is no fine print in this campaign. Donald Trump isn’t offering Americans a written contract.  He’s asking a country to take his erratic word on faith.  It is equally saddening and disturbing that so many Americans are so frustrated with our system that the empty promises from a man with Donald Trump’s personal and professional record would be considered a path to national greatness.  

Ronald Reagan once joked that politics was the world’s second oldest profession and it bore a striking resemblance to the first.  The oldest joke about the oldest profession is one where a man asks a woman if she’ll sleep with him for a million dollars.  She says yes.  He then asks how about one hundred dollars?  She asks “what kind of a girl do you think I am?” He replies “we’ve already established that. Now we’re just negotiating the price.”

Donald Trump is negotiating a price for our party, and our country. I’ve spent the last decade of my political life arguing with folks who have claimed they wouldn’t budge their positions because of “principle”.  Many of them are now willing to back a man who believes every thing is negotiable, and every one has a price.

I choose not to be one of them.  I see too much value in the brand of my state and my country to sell for what he is offering.  Georgia and America are great. We don’t need Donald Trump to leave us holding the bag after this political licensing deal runs its course.  And voters should tell him so on Tuesday.

Charlie Harper is the Executive Director of PolicyBEST, a public policy think tank focused on issues of Business & Economic Development, Education, Science & Medicine, and Transportation. He’s also the publisher of, a website dedicated to State & Local politics of Georgia.