Governor Brian Kemp’s term damaging, ineffective


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Governor Brian Kemp took his oath to office in 2019, however the promises he made were not kept.

Stella Maximuk

Gov. Brian Kemp was reelected to serve a second term. While it would appear he was reelected because of his success in his first term, this is untrue. The promises Kemp made in his first term weren’t kept, and in some cases, he caused more harm than good. 

In his 2019 inauguration speech, Gov. Brian Kemp made several promises. Among other things, he pledged to crack down on crime, improve education and unify Georgians. 

Kemp mentioned crime several times during the speech but hasn’t seen significant changes during his first term. According to the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, in 2019, one case of violent crime occurred every 15 minutes and 44 seconds on average. In 2022, violent crime occurred once every 15 minutes and 26 seconds: hardly a reduction. The National Institute of Justice defines violent crime as cases such as rape, sexual assault, robbery, assault and murder.  Although non-violent crime did decrease (from one case every two minutes in 2018 to one case every three minutes and 24 seconds in 2021). Violent crime rates were only slightly lowered, something that should have been prioritized higher. 

Furthermore, Kemp passed legislation that loosened gun regulations, something that has a clear correlation with gun related crime. A study by Everytown Research and Policy reported that states with weak gun laws have more gun related crime. Georgia is ranked 36 out of 50 for gun law strength and has worse than average gun violence rates. 

Despite this, Kemp passed Senate Bill 319, allowing Georgians to conceal and carry a firearm without a permit. According to the American Progress Center, rates of firearm assault increase by 24% in states with weak concealed carry laws and firearm homicide rates increase by 11% in states with permissive concealed carry laws. While non-violent crime was reduced, violent crime that could have been avoided, will increase in Georgia. 

As for education, the pandemic caused a massive, uncontrollable learning loss. In August, Kemp announced that $37.4 million would go into programs to support the learning loss. While helpful, it does not excuse some of the other legislation he approved. 

Kemp made changes to curriculum and to extracurriculars that reduce exposure to important concepts such as the critical race theory along with the participation of transgender athletes on high school sports teams.

Senate Bill 377 limits the discussion of race in classrooms. Students will not learn of the belief of racial superiority, that the U.S is fundamentally or systematically racist, or of guilt because of one’s skin tone, race or ethnicity. Kemp called the passage of racial discussion limiting legislation a “priority” and that the “divisive ideology” would be stopped, essentially blocking students from learning important concepts that could improve equity, inclusion and equality. 

To further limit inclusion, Kemp endorsed the banning of transgender athletes from high school team sports. During the passing of Senate Bill 435, Kemp cited claims of unfair advantages, however, by banning transgender athletes, he is not only alienating them, but also targeting a group that is more prone to mental health issues. 

The learning loss due to the pandemic could not have been predicted, however his other education policies implemented were intentional and harmful for students. Kemp not only failed to improve the education of Georgia students, but he created policies that limits the perspective and education of Georgia students. 

Education was not the only topic he curbed the advancement of. After the 2020 presidential election, Kemp implemented Senate Bill 202, which makes voting less accessible. Under Senate Bill 202, absentee ballots require voters to attach a photo ID, limits the number and use of drop boxes and shortens the time needed to request and mail absentee ballots. Not only will the changes cause voter suppression and limit accessibility, but, according to the American Civil Liberties Union it disproportionately affects voters of color, new citizens and religious communities.

Furthermore, Kemp admitted that the bill was the result of the Republican loss of Georgia during the presidential election in 2020. Such action is absolutely inexcusable however, Kemp’s history of voter suppression does not stop there. 

In 2017, under the office of Kemp, who was acting as the Secretary of state at the time, 560,000 voters were removed from the polls because of infrequent voting, according to APM Reports. Out of the 560,000, 107,000 would have been able to vote otherwise. Additionally, purged voters were more likely to be Democratic than Republicans. Voters for Stacy Abrams were over represented while voters for Kemp were underrepresented on the purge list. 

Kemp called for unity in his 2019 inauguration speech however his policy consistently created division among Georgians. Through relaxed gun laws, biased and unnecessary education laws and voter suppression among many other issues, he not only broke his promises, but he decreased the well-being of Georgians.