In Which Our Columnist Considers the Political Circus That Will Decide the Fate of the U.S. Senate
The more you hear about Georgia’s two U.S. Senate races coming to a head on Jan. 5, the worse it seems.
That this tortured excuse for intelligent debate is going to decide the Senate majority and whether we can move at all on a Joe Biden presidential agenda seems wildly out of line, though true.
For openers, the race will follow exactly the same rules that have triggered the never-ending fountain of fraud complaints from the Donald Trump campaign. For Trump, fraud has meant too many opposition votes.
There still will be mail voting, which the Trump campaign is disputing, failingly, all the way to the Supreme Court. Also a bone of contention is late voter registration, which closed this week. And the count will be by the same poll workers whose work the Trump campaign challenged in three separate recounts.
If it was fraudulent before, which it was not, it will be fraudulent on the same grounds again.
Then there is the strange role that Trump has played, both calling out the election process as fraud and then also telling his supporters that they should vote anyway – so long as they vote Republican.
This is a remarkable instance of putting democracy on trial – at a huge literal and figurative cost… What exactly do we celebrate here when there is a winner?
This is a remarkable instance of putting democracy on trial – at a huge literal and figurative cost. We have allowed Republicans to decry voting as anti-democratic and meanwhile allowed that party’s state officials to crack down on access to the ballot altogether. We have demanded that Democrats go out and find new voters and they have in a changing demographic landscape.
Meanwhile, the Georgia legislature is taking up a Republican demand to limit severely future mail ballots – apparently because they don’t like the results.
What exactly do we celebrate here when there is a winner?
Candidates or Cutouts?
Few people seem to be able to discuss the actual candidates apart from their cardboard cutouts in some national framework. Whether the Senate is 51-49 or 50-50 at the end of this vote, it can’t act on major questions anyway since most legislation requires a 60-vote majority.
In that sense, Democrats Jon Ossoff and Rev. Raphael Warnock are carrying generalized water for
- better health care
- more truthfulness in office
- quicker government stimulus without a lot of detail, though Warnock in particular seems the embodiment of the preacher he is, pushing for caring in government.
The Republican candidates, incumbents David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler, who was appointed to her seat, seem unable to discuss actual issues. They just attach “radical socialism” labels and the like to their opponents.
Their greatest efforts seem to be
- pursuing their own stock trades as they were hearing government information, including classified material
- voting the Donald Trump party line on all issues
Both Loeffler and Perdue support unsubstantiated charges of vote fraud peddled by Trump and an odd-ball lawsuit filed by Texas that seeks to overturn popular vote outcomes in four battleground states that Trump lost. In the words of a Washington Post columnist, they are “declaring this effort to subvert the will of the voters to be a legitimate tactic.”
Perdue, who has not explained pursuing nearly 3,000 stock trades as a senator while issues affected by those stocks came before his committees, couldn’t even manage to show up for a debate. Ossoff faced an empty podium.
Loeffler would not answer a direct debate question about whether stock trading ought to be out of bounds for sitting senators.
Meanwhile, Loeffler’s conservative leanings invoke freedom of religion and expression, apparently only for some. It seems she can’t stand to hear Warnock speak from the pulpit of the Ebenezer Baptist Church where he preaches. Loeffler attended Warnock sermons on days of remembering Martin Luther King Jr. When Warnock talks of Christian principles like feeding people and acting against greed, Loeffler calls Warnock a radical socialist.
So much for religious freedom.
Ossoff seems to keep running every election cycle, always coming up a little short. Warnock is a first-time candidate.
If this is the election to bring millions in investment; the attention of the entire nation; and acceptance, even encouragement, of policy disagreements to help decide our future, we could have had a better campaign. Is this really the best we can do?
Featured image: A photograph posted on social media over the weekend of Republican Sen. Kelly Loeffler posing last week with noted white supremacist and former KKK leader Chester Doles. Loeffler said Sunday that she was unaware of his background; she made the same claim in September when he attended one of her rallies.