My view of the swamp

Published 5:24 pm Tuesday, February 14, 2017

have watched with concern as the citizens of America have become increasingly polarized.   The trend began in earnest during my time in the Georgia General Assembly, and has moved with increasing speed during the past few years.

The place of the so-called moderate in modern government has almost disappeared.   It has been aided by the gerrymandering of legislative and congressional districts.  The power of the far left and the far right in our elections has made winning worth almost any tactic, including attempting to destroy the character and good works of those whose only crime is their wish to serve.

Before you try to figure out which party or president I am talking about, let me state that I have been elected as a Democrat, a Republican, and in two non-partisan elections.   The only pledge I ever made to the public was to do my best once I knew all the facts.  The truth would take me to my position on a vote, which is the way it should be.

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I know three of the nominees to President Trump’s new Cabinet, some better than others.  Tom Price, the new Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services, was elected to the Georgia State Senate in 1996.  I was elected to the Georgia House of Representative the following year.   

Sonny Perdue, our well known former Governor who has been nominated for Agriculture Secretary was in the Georgia Senate when I was elected.   Sonny remained there until he resigned to run for Governor the year after I declined to run for re-election.  We both changed from the Democratic Party to the Republican Party the same week in 1998, two years before the Republicans assumed power in the state.

I have always respected both of these men, though we might have disagreed on some matters along the way.  They are smart, hardworking public servants.  Regardless of your political persuasion, our state is better off because of their efforts. 

However, the person I know the best is Andy Puzder, who has been nominated to be the Secretary of Labor.   His confirmation hearings will begin the week this paper is printed.  I have known Andy for almost 20 years.  Puzder was named the CEO of CKE Restaurants shortly after they purchased the Hardee’s chain of restaurants.   I was named to their Board of Directors three years later.

In keeping with the scorched earth policy of examining Cabinet nominees these days, I am prepared to hear his words twisted and distorted, his actions taken out of context, and his life examined under a microscope with an intensity that most could not withstand.

Let me tell you, my friends, that Andy Puzder is a good and decent man.  He is a devoted husband, father and grandfather.   He is consistent with his beliefs, isn’t afraid to express them, but has the capacity and curiosity to seek out what others different than him may think. 

I watched him rebuild a company on the brink of collapse.  During those early years, we had many discussions about how to best address the fundamental problems of the brand.  We both believed that success would only come when the employees believed in what they were doing.   They had to believe in themselves and in the company they represented.   Andy was the leader that made that happen.

During his career, he has created more jobs than any single senator that immediately comes to my mind.  Puzder has groomed other leaders and facilitated promotions from within that have led to some of the top positions in the company being filled with people that began their careers as teenagers flipping burgers.

Andy and I don’t agree on every political point and there is nothing wrong with that.  But I believe with all my heart that he is a good choice for this important position.     He has been in the trenches and knows the things that strangle businesses and the things that allow them to flourish. 

He will fight for small businesses and for the people working in those companies who are dependent on its continued success.  I ought to know.  I have seen him do it for nearly two decades. 

Whether the swamp is drained or not, there is no person I would rather have by my side as that dark, murky swamp water begins to rise than Andy Puzder.