Georgia’s 9th District Congressional House race is shaping up to be another David vs. Goliath event, an event of grassroots “of the people” against ‘local millionaire businessman”. Although this is not an unusual story by any means, it is a race that points out the disparity between the status quo and the progressive movement to recapture the People’s power in government at all levels during the 2022 Midterms.
The incumbent in the 9th district race is Andrew Clyde. Mr. Clyde was elected to the House of Representative of the 117th Congress in November 2020 and his term will, if not re-elected, end in January 2023. Mr. Clyde is the owner of Clyde’s Armory in Athens, Georgia, a popular gun dealership in North Georgia that has helped to make him a millionaire. By all accounts, it would be unfair to say that during his tenure in Congress he had failed the people. This does not appear to be the case, despite his having had a slightly higher-than-average absentee rate for voting. He has voted as conservatively along a center line as it would appear possible on bills brought into his purview and he has co-sponsored bills that also walk the line between centrist Democrat and centrist Republican. He has been fined heavily for many of the same “offenses” as his contemporary Marjorie Taylor Greene (i.e., refusing to wear a mask, failing to complete a security screening, etc.) and he has voted in agreement with other Republicans in Congress. And of course, it must be noted that he has garnered President Trump’s endorsement for the 2022 Midterms, having received that endorsement publicly at the Commerce, Georgia Save America Rally this past March.
This is all well and good and it begs the question “Why does he have so many challengers for his seat if he has behaved as a good Republican congressmen would be expected to behave?” The answer to that question is found in the platforms of his challengers. One such grassroots challenger, Michael Boggus, has an aggressive agenda that he feels represents the actions that a Republican congressman like Clyde should be focused on achieving. Although Mr. Clyde seems to be acting in line with his party, Mr. Boggus believes that two primary failures of Clyde as a representative of the people of Georgia are his lack of availability to his constituency and a lack of demonstration of support of his constituency in his district. Mr. Boggus suggests that refusing to wear a mask in Congress and being fined for it is a shallow show of support for his Georgia constituents because, during the mask and vaccine mandates in Georgia, it was Michael Boggus’ activism, not that of Andrew Clyde, which helped to save the jobs of several healthcare workers in Clyde’s hometown of Athens, Georgia. According to Boggus and others, Mr. Clyde’s staff refused to take phone calls or return email from constituents when they sought his help with their own struggle to stand their ground at home. It is also unlikely that one will see Mr. Clyde, who has done little to campaign in his district in advance of the May primaries, holding community appreciation benefits for EMTs, nurses, physicians, military personnel and veterans, and others. In a recent debate in Fannin County, Georgia, Boggus had this to say to Clyde: “You know, Andrew, it’s a sad state of affairs when your constituents had to get help from a non-elected official. [They] called your office repeatedly and got no response.” Although Andrew Clyde signed in support of a bill to eliminate OSHA’s authority to mandate vaccines in Washington, D.C., he does not appear to have been actively involved in the concerns of his constituents at home.
Inaccessibility has long been a common complaint among constituents both in Georgia’s 9th District and across the nation. Grassroots candidates such as Mike Boggus believe that this inaccessibility is a core issue that allows government to keep the People at arm’s length. He believes that the constituency should have direct access to the officials they elect, whether they live locally or in Washington, D.C. He suggests that all elected officials, including those at a local level, should be able to provide public access to not only the ordinances, statues, and bills being voted upon on their behalf, but also have access to an explanation of those bills and a justification for why the elected officials voted as they did. One immediate solution that Boggus puts forth is a district website that not only provides this information but also gives the community direct access to an individual who would act as a liaison between the voter and the elected official.
Another contention between candidates like Andrew Clyde and his challengers, according to Mike Boggus, is that Clyde is too much of a “Yes Man”. Although both candidates are staunch supporters of the Second Amendment, Boggus believes that we are at a time in our national history when we need people to fight for our rights in Congress by pushing for legislation that puts the power back in the hands of the People rather than merely quietly voting along party lines to try to prevent the Democrats from furthering their initiatives. His platform motto is “Elect a patriot, not a politician!” So, what does that look like to Georgia Republican Assembly endorsed Boggus?
Mike says it looks like authoring bills to hold elected officials accountable for their actions by removing slush funds from legislation and removing congressional protections related to personal liability for the consequences of the bills they pass. Americans should not, he believes, continue to fall victim to paying for the pet projects and grift of elected officials. Boggus says it looks like mandatory term limits that restrict elected officials from serving more than eight years (four terms) in the state and federal House of Representatives, as well as limiting state and federal Senate terms to a similar standard. Having a limited amount of time in office, Boggus believes, is what the framers of the Constitution intended to limit the ability to use an elected office for personal profit. Boggus says it looks like legislation that removes the statues of limitations on cases involving child abuse and sexual assault to better protect victimized children and prevent situations where the victims are made to feel criminalized. He says it looks like authoring bills that both investigate and defund Big Pharma as well as the film industry, which currently receives obscene tax breaks in Georgia to encourage employment of Georgians but, in practice, instead imports most of its employees from other states. He says it looks like creating a culture where children and adults, particularly public servants such as law enforcement officers, are taught the tenets of their state and federal constitutions to better understand their power as citizens. Of Clyde and other elected officials, Boggus says “Our rights are our rights. These people work for us!” He also says “We brought this upon ourselves, whether it be by fear or lack of knowledge. If we are looking for someone to blame, we just need to look in the mirror. Right now, the only place we are free is in our minds and in our hearts; everything else belongs to the government.”
Perhaps this last statement best represents the disparity between status quo politicians in the Republican Party and their grassroots competition, whether it be in Georgia or elsewhere. Status quo politicians drive carefully between the lines. Their grassroots competition seeks to erase those lines and redefine the purpose and policy of the Republican Party like it’s 1776 all over again. That might not be such a terrible idea given the extent to which Joe Biden and his administration seem determined to act like King George III.