Back when Travis Rice and I were co-hosting "The Dawg Show" on local cable television in Henry County, we used to do a segment from time to time called "Completely Unrelated."
Sometimes, subjects other than college football would arise which were worth discussing and we'd take a moment to kick them around a bit. Here now, I present one of several unrelated (or only marginally related) topics Trav and I hashed out on a recent trip to the Classic City, submitted for your comments and critiques as the first in a series.
I don't expect he'd have minded moving the seat of government to a small town, do you?
Most states are wise enough not to locate the seat of government in the state's largest city. State capitals are located in Tallahassee rather than in Miami, in Sacramento rather than in Los Angeles, in Springfield rather than in Chicago, in Jefferson City rather than in St. Louis, in Albany rather than in New York City, or in Harrisburg rather than in Philadelphia.
This is a good public policy, because public officials tend to do less intrusive governing when the seat of government is someplace unpleasant and large cities tend to offer too many amenities and, hence, too many reasons to find excuses for government to remain active so the governing officials can justify staying in town and futzing with the commonweal.
Atlanta is a great city with many appealing attractions, which makes it particularly ill-suited to being a state capital. When the seat of government is located so close to numerous professional sports arenas, fine restaurants, museums, and other tourist attractions, the setting encourages government hyperactivity, which, as Thomas Jefferson warned us, is not beneficial to a free society.
To this difficult Peach State political conundrum, I have two solutions. First of all, the state capital should be moved around annually, based upon the outcome of the previous fall's state high school football playoffs. The Georgia city whose hometown high school football team won the state championship last year should get to be home to the state government offices this year.
In order to give all of Georgia a fighting chance to participate, the classifications should rotate . . . the Class A champion hosts the first year, the Class AA champion hosts the next year, and so on until each classification has been represented. Serving as the seat of state government, even temporarily, would boost local economies, rejuvenate some small towns, and expose public officials to the wide variety of backgrounds and interests to be found in the Empire State of the South, from the Piedmont to the Coastal Plain.
Moreover, the annual relocation of state offices would force government to travel light, effectively requiring downsizing to eliminate nonessential positions, adding to the burdens of office so as to attract only the most devoted of public servants, and encouraging such technological innovations as electronic records storage and such decentralizing measures as increased home rule for counties and cities. The state appellate courts periodically, and admirably, resume the historic practice of "riding circuit" by holding oral arguments in venues around the state; why not make this compulsory for all government offices?
Let's hook this bad boy up to the back of a pickup truck, haul it to Athens, and paint it red and black. (Photograph from Georgia General Assembly.)
The second part of my solution is to reschedule and relocate sessions of the General Assembly. A substantial number of our state legislators are University of Georgia alumni and it would not surprise me if a quorum of both houses of the General Assembly were on hand in Sanford Stadium six or seven Saturdays every autumn.
That being the case, I propose rescheduling the legislative session so that it runs concurrently with college football season and relocating it to the Classic City. Committee work could be done during the week, but all debates and votes would have to be held on Saturdays on which the 'Dawgs were playing a home game, with each weekend's session commencing exactly three hours before kickoff.
You can bet that the legislature would be made more efficient if the sound of the Lone Bugler belting out the Battle Hymn of Bulldog Nation from the upper corner of the southwest stands signaled the call to begin voting. There'd probably be a lot less meddling with the Georgia Code if exercises in polarizing partisanship entailed the risk of making representatives miss kickoff.
Furthermore, the governor---presently, a former Bulldog walk-on who has been known to deliver pep talks to the team on game days---could be held to greater accountability by being made to sign and veto bills as part of the halftime ceremony at the last home game of the year, performing his Constitutional function in full view of 92,000 of his constituents. Honestly, wouldn't you rather see that at halftime than the presentation of the conference championship rings to the water polo team or another Earth, Wind & Fire medley?
Admit it . . . since seeing "The Dukes of Hazzard," you've secretly believed all gubernatorial bill-signing ceremonies in Georgia should be punctuated by the chief executive officer of the state yelling, "Go 'Dawgs!" (Photograph from Yahoo! Movies.)
Some may deem it sacrilege to tie a serious matter such as state government to a frivolous concern like sports, but I am a firm believer that the government which governs least governs best and public officials would benefit from regular interaction with the people whom they serve.
As for the relative significance of the enterprises of republican self-government and college football, I believe athletics and politics are interwoven historically. Besides, there is a reason why four---now five---B.C.S. bowl games are played each January, while the Iowa caucuses occur only once every four years . . . and what sane man among us would not rather say his first-born son had played for a team that lost the Sugar Bowl than say the lad had been on the campaign staff of a candidate who won the New Hampshire primary?