Finally, Democrats in one of the reddest of red states, Georgia, found an issue that would divide the Republicans along their fault lines. Democrats and pundits have for years prattled on about how fragile the Grand Old Party was, a mix and muddle of various special interests masterfully glued together by political genius. Some of the biggest questions were asked after the 2004 election, like Why do the lower middle class vote against their own economic interests? The answer is, of course, that the Democrats were divided and never provided a compelling alternative. "Sure you want to protect Social Security, money that I won't see for 20 years, but I don't even save for my kids' college or pay down my credit card debt. What makes you think I'm going to start giving a rat's ass about my future now? Besides, GW says he'll keep them gays from marrying and that's a good thing."
Anyway, the news here is the new Georgia Anti-Smoking Bill (free, but login required). Text of bill For those of you wondering (Ben, I'm sure you've hazarded a guess), I'm for the bill. But that's not the focus of this post. The focus here is the fact that for the first time, the moral wing and the libertarian/business wings of the Republican party are clashing. See, businesses don't care if you ban gay marriage. Hey, it actually would save them money, seeing as they wouldn't have to provide spousal benefits and all. Businesses love the idea of banning drugs, for obvious productivity reasons, and abortion isn't even on their radar. But smoking? For years, the hospitality industry has hung its hat on smoking and drinking - the two largest profit centers.
The moralists, of course, don't love smoking, although many don't really mind it. However, they've opened the door to government intervention with their bans on sex toys (for novelty only), alcohol on Sunday, sodomy and premarital sex, and other such intrusions. The sponsor of this bill is Republican State Senator Don Thomas of Dalton. He's a doctor - a family practitioner and a smoking ban has become somewhat of a crusade for him.
I'm pretty sure the ban will pass. If not now, soon. If not in its current form, in some similar fashion. And Democrats, which have been slow to learn anything, should learn something from this. Maybe it's not as important as universal health care or the Alaska National Wildlife Refuge, but you have to choose your battles wisely. And take one step at a time.