Acorn Wheel

Zell Yes!

I used to say that I haven't supported a politician since Bobbie Kennedy, and that he died before I was old enough to vote for him. I used to say that I never voted FOR a politician, I was always voting for an opponent. You could tell who I supported, people who had great moral character and progressive ideas who would quit the race after the second or third primary because people would rather hear sweet lies than the honest truth. Then I realized that I have supported a politician, and voted for him proudly. And, even more amazing, I will vote for him again because he has lived up to the public trust. That man is Zell Miller, former governor and current senator of the great state of Georgia.

I have a very high view of the Declaration of Independence and the US Constitution. I consider them sacred works. Yes, they were written by man, but you can see the hand of God all over it.

The Declaration is poetry. It proclaims the promise of America. Our country wasn't founded because someone could swing a sword better than his neighbors, and he consolidated his holdings and called himself "king". No, we were founded on a dream, a dream that all men are created equal. That we have the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

The Constitution is perhaps more amazing. While the Declaration states the ideals, the Constitution provides a pragmatic way to establish and maintain our common good without interfering with our personal business. It is a technical user's manual to accomplish the dream.

I never lost faith in the Constitution, but I lost a lot of faith in our government during the Nixon era. I felt that most people entered politics for the wrong reasons, or had the reasons distorted once in office. It seems that politicians are more concerned about power and privilege than life and liberty. We have developed a ruling class that would anger Ben and George and Tom.

My eighth-grade history teacher, Mrs. Abernathy, at Edison Junior High, did a great job introducing me to the Constitution. When I asked her for advice at election day, she wouldn't say who she was voting for. (Like any great civics teacher, she never gave a clue as to whether she leaned to the right or left, but was a great devil's advocate) She did, however, give two voting tips:

1. Vote cross-party. If you elect a Republican president, vote for a Democratic congress. If you elect a Democratic president, you better vote for a Republican congress.

2. If in doubt, vote the bums out!

When I pointed out that a Republican president wouldn't get anything done with a Democratic congress, and visa versa, she said that that was the whole idea. If they are deadlocked, the only laws they can pass are very important and broad in support. However, if you tip the scales one way or the other, all hell will break loose. They'll do all sorts of stuff that we'll regret and end up having to pay for.

This is one of Georgia's strongest points. The state legislature only meets for 40 days in January and February before they go home. This gives us the rest of the year to clean up the mess. It also means that it isn't a full-time job. A normal person can be a state legislator (or that's the theory. Most are bull goose looney.) and work a normal job with the civilians the rest of the year to keep in touch with their neighbors.

So, if I always vote against the incumbent, why do I vote for Zell?

Zell is honest. Zell's terms as governor were clean and relatively scandal-free. When someone in corrections or transportation was accused of improprieties, Zell didn't cover it up, but wanted it investigated and the culprit removed.

Zell is down-to-earth. Zell is from the mountains of north Georgia. He leaves them physically, but not spiritually. He retains the pioneer spirit of the mountaineers, the "leave me alone, I can do it myself" gumption that made America great.

Zell does what he thinks is right and isn't afraid of unpopular stands. Zell almost single-handedly got the Lottery passed in Georgia. I figured that it was a hopeless cause. There was no way that we'd get a lottery, not with the opposition from the churches. Still, he wanted the revenue for the schools so he persisted and won.

Zell is skilled. Once the lottery passed and money started to fill the state coffers, it would have been easy to skim them for other projects like roads. Zell however, not only insisted that the money go to education, it had to go to "above and beyond" projects. This prevented lottery money from going to teachers, but the teacher's money gets transferred to roads.

The result was improved technology and the Hope Scholarship. The Hope scholarship is available to any instate student with a B average. It covers the cost of tuition in a state school. The technology spending has put several computers in every class room. When my daughter started kindergarten her school had one apple computer on a cart that was shared by the 5 kindergarten classes, one hour at a time. By third grade each class had 2 Pentium IIs in the class with Internet connections. The school had two or three computer labs with 30 new computers each. Every class had 3 sessions a week in the lab.

This is in stark contrast to the Ohio lottery massacre. Ohio instituted a lottery for education, but allowed a clause that said that it could go to the general fund in case of an emergency. Ohio elected and inaugurated Democrat Dick Celeste as governor, and elected a Democratic legislature, violating the good advice of Mrs. Abernathy. During their first week in office, during a January storm that was so bad that news couldn't get out, they passed laws to double the state income tax and move the lottery money to the general fund. It never went back to education. My nieces and nephew in Ohio wish they had a computer in school.

Zell is brave. Zell tried to change the Georgia flag. In 1956 Georgia changed the state flag from one based on the Confederate Stars and Bars to one based on the Confederate Battle Flag. Many people are offended by this. Zell listened to fellow Georgians who felt that the current Georgia flag didn't represent Georgia properly. He tried to change the flag back to the pre-1956 flag.

Zell caught hell! People jumped all over him, questioned his patriotism, even accused him of being a Yankee! Still, Zell felt it was the right thing to do, and fought hard for it. It was a battle that he lost, unfortunately.

Still, how many politicians come out for what is right, even if it unpopular? How many fight for the right thing, even when his core support is against it and it may cost an election?

The answer is None! No politician would, but a statesman would. And that is the bottom line as to why I like Zell. He has a moral compass that guides him. His momma taught him right from wrong, the Marines reinforced it, and he does what he thinks is right, not what will be popular.

Zell represents Georgia, not Washington. In January of 2001, Washington was polarized because Al Gore didn't understand that elections were based on the Electoral College, and not popular vote. This was instituted to prevent large states like New York and Virginia from controlling elections, and making sure that a candidate was supported in the smaller states like Rhode Island and Delaware. Al Gore had more popular votes than Bush, but Bush won the majority of states and won the electoral college and the election. This happens every 100 years or so. In the past, however, the other candidate conceded. Al Gore refused to accept the truth and kept the country agonizing over the election. (Click here to read the Comedian Argus Hamilton's analysis of the election)

Richard Nixon could have contested the results for Illinois in 1960. Daley had stuffed the ballots throughout Chicago for Kennedy. If he had protested, he could have won Illinois, and the presidency. However, Nixon had more class than Gore, or at least better handlers, so he accepted the results and the election was settled that night.

When George W. Bush was inaugurated, he tried to unite the congress that was divided by Al Gore. He new that he wasn't swept into office and that he had to form a coalition of the middle to achieve what he wanted. When George W. Bush pushed for some much needed tax reform, the Democrats followed a partisan party line and opposed it as part of a propaganda campaign to elect Hilary in 2004. All the Democrats but one, Zell Miller. Zell knows that he is representing Georgia, not the Democratic Party or Washington fat cats. Zell knows that he represents a conservative state that wants tax reform. Zell didn't just vote for the bill, he cosponsored it!.

Like I said, Zell is a brave moral man, and I'm proud of him.

Paul Burns
August 7, 2001

Zell is a Marine. In his biography Corps Values, Zell talks about the lessons that he learned in boot camp. He credits them with shaping his life from that point on. They are listed here on one of my List Pages.

Here is a crude design for the new Georgia Flag. I thought that the flag should represent a cross section of Georgia, so I have it represent a cross section. It has an orange band for the red Georgia clay, a green band for the Georgia pine, and some blue sky shining down on all of us.

Iris Badge


Paul Burns

Atlanta, Georgia, USA

Skunk flag

Don't Tread on Me!