Alan Zendell, January 7, 2021
Almost lost in the furor following the invasion of the U. S. Capitol by a mob of Trump supporters angry over Biden’s defeat of Trump was the significance of the runoff Senate elections in Georgia. As horrifying as yesterday’s invasion of the Capitol was, the impact of the Georgia elections on American political life will prove far more significant and enduring. It was a total repudiation of Donald Trump, and like the insurrection he incited, it was an inevitable conclusion to his hateful, irrational style of governing.
After two months of listening to Trump’s army of incompetent lawyers accuse Georgia and three other states of rigging the presidential election, the same voters who gave Georgia to President-Elect Biden, threw out its two incumbent Republican Senators. Victorious, in this very red right-leaning state were Raphael Warnock, a black minister whose margin a victory was seven times Biden’s, and Jon Ossoff, a young Jewish activist whose margin of victory was four times Biden’s. Those results show that the behavior of Trump and the incumbents, Kelly Loeffler and David Purdue, in the weeks since the election pushed Georgia from purple to blue.
The Georgia Senate results flipped the majority in the U.S. Senate to the Democrats, completely changing the landscape for the incoming Biden administration. Biden will not have to endure weeks of obstructive wrangling to obtain Senate approval for his Cabinet nominations, and he will not be facing a Senate majority leader whose entire agenda was preventing progress. Recall that Mitch McConnell’s first words following the inauguration of Barack Obama was that his sole mission was to ensure the failure of Obama’s presidency.
With McConnell now nothing more than a gadfly, Biden has an opportunity to quickly pass landmark legislation. He will stabilize Obamacare by filling in the critical building block of the public option; he should have little trouble passing campaign finance and election reforms, limiting gerrymandering and closing loopholes that allow massive anonymous donations; and he should be able to pass immigration reforms like permanently legitimizing the status of dreamers.
The results in Georgia validate Stacy Abrams’ brilliance and skill at organizing and getting out the vote. Abrams still has not conceded defeat to Governor Brian Kemp, who she accused of suppressing hundreds of thousands of Democratic votes in his role has Secretary of State. She proved her point three times: restoring the voting rights she believes were stolen, flipping Georgia from Trump to Biden, and being the driving force that elected Warnock and Ossoff. In the eight weeks since the November election, she increased the Democratic turnout in the runoff election by more than 100,000.
Georgia’s Supervisor of Elections, Republican Gabriel Sterling, attributed the Democrats’ double win to Stacy Abrams and Donald Trump. He congratulated Abrams on a job well done, contrasting her positive impact on the election with the chaos created by Trump. Sterling said the president “pissed off Georgia voters” and undermined Loeffler and Perdue.
Former Republican Senator Jeff Flake today said the result in Georgia is a fitting coda to the Trump administration. He’s right. The complete victory of facts over lies, of decency over immorality, of unification over divisiveness is almost spiritual. If this were a novel readers might reject it as being too fantastic to be believable. And yet, it happened. The American people’s resiliency stood firm in the face of organized attacks by dozens of fringe right wing groups.
Trumpism was a necessary stress test on the strength of our Constitution and our republic. Stress tests are painful and nerve-wracking, but they’re supposed to be. The only way to assure the soundness of our political system is to stress it to its breaking point, which Trump did in spades. Future historians may thank him for the misery he caused. Today, we can celebrate that it was all worth it. The forces of reason and decency won.
But don’t celebrate too long. Present day historian Heather Cox Richardson reminded her followers yesterday that “democracy is not a spectator sport.” We cannot disengage from the war against COVID, climate change, and the forces of greed and corruption. We cannot sit back and watch. Democrats have to prove that they can do better, or everything they just achieved will be reversed in the 2022 midterms.
To achieve long-term change, we must all remain involved. The only way to counter the lies circulating on the internet is to answer them with truth. The forces of divisiveness won’t rest, and neither can we. I’ll continue to do my part. I started this blog because Donald Trump horrified me four years ago. I’ll keep writing it until we’ve righted the ship of state.