Georgia gave Democrats the power and Republicans showed us they should never get it back
Republicans are the ex who lash out after getting dumped. Their actions — see the U.S. Capitol attack — show us how we should deal with them moving forward. Not at all.
The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of any other agency, organization, employer or company.
I’ve often thought that in the cases of some relationships, you get to see the other person’s truest character when you break up with them in how they handle rejection. It shows you myriad things about what they think of you, about the relationship you have, the one you had, and what it should look like as you move forward.
The leaders of the Republican party and its supportive base of voters have shown us who they are in America’s latest breakup with the party. Now, to be clear, Donald Trump has been showing us who he was for years. Republicans have shown us who they were for even longer. However, with the last four years coming to an end with a domestic terrorist attack called for by the president, Republicans across the spectrum have shown us just what America’s relationship must look like as we move forward. There’s a freshly minted set of circumstances.
After (unsuccessfully) pressuring Georgia’s Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger to manufacture fraud to give him a win in the state, the peach state continued the arduous breaking up with Republicans by electing two Democrats to their Senate seats. It was an affirmation of what Brittany Packnett-Cunningham has said about other southern states: “Georgia isn’t red, it’s suppressed.”
The wins for Rev. Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff are historic in many ways, the most of which being their state’s first Black and Jewish senators in history. Warnock becomes the first Black senator from a formerly confederate state, and only the 11th Black person to serve in the United States Senate. While their margins of victory were tight, their wins have shaken the table in the discussion of the south’s sea of red states and what’s possible in them. Defeating Trump, Kelly Loeffler, and David Purdue has shifted power left significantly in the state in ways yet undefined in the south, but for the country the shift is night and day for the new Joe Biden/Kamala Harris administration about to take office.
The wins were the work of organizers across Georgia, most notably Stacey Abrams. Abrams, a longtime Georgia Democrat, was the most vocal — but certainly not the only — change agent after her own run for Georgia governor two years ago was beleaguered with voter suppression tactics by her opponent, Brian Kemp, who also was the state official running the election. Soon thereafter, Fair Fight was born, an organization focused on helping voters get better access to their votes in Georgia and other states around the country.
While Raffensberger is being celebrated for upholding the votes of Georgians in the presidential election, he’s not a progressive nor is he a voting rights hero. He is a Republican who says he voted for Trump in November, before becoming the target of the president’s attacks and pressure to essentially hand Trump the election. In December, Raffensberger was on the receiving end of a lawsuit claiming he was at the head of illegally purging 200,000 people from the voter rolls. (Warnock and Ossoff both won their runoff elections by a margin of less than 90,000 votes.)
Loeffler had signed on with other congressional Republicans to reject the November votes that included the votes of Georgians, many of which were actually votes for her, the same people she then asked to vote for her again on Tuesday. Loeffler was joined in the pre-election co-signing by Perdue, if only symbolically, as Purdue was termed out at end of the last Congress. The new Congress having now been sworn in, and Purdue having not been re-elected to serve in the current term of the Senate, the runoff election was to determine if he would return in a new term or if he would be unseated by Jon Ossoff. And he was.
Republicans in Georgia — and by significant proxy America — are feeling the effects of being dumped. And the day after they were formally told to gather their things by the voters of Georgia, a weeks-long planned domestic terrorist attack was carried out by a violent and egregious demonstration with participants so in their feelings. If they were an ex, this would be them slashing our tires, setting a fire in our home, and trolling us on social media promising they’re coming back.
Seemingly, for at least the next two years, Republicans will have no leadership roles in the executive or legislative branch. The Supreme Court is a whole other situationship because Democrats now lead in both houses and the White House, countless options are now available to them on pressing scientific issues ranging from plans to control COVID-19 to addressing climate change; economic issues like getting people back to work and figuring out what we look after being semi-shut down for nearly a year; democratic leaders will be tasked with restoring relationships with our allies around the world, while trying to also restore our standing on the global stage. And then there’s addressing systemic racism, anti-Blackness, criminal justice reform, and police reform.
Winning Georgia also highlights the need for reforms around voting rights and combating voter suppression, potentially with the John Lewis Voting Rights Act.
None of that even touches the need for renewing America’s infrastructure, finding the parents of hundreds of children we’d kept in cages, agreeing on what should happen to Trump and the people who aided him in breaking every kind of law. Plus, we’ve got to protect the rights of LGBTQIA+ people, women’s access to reproductive health… you get it, the list is long.
All of this happens on a stage where Republicans will do literally anything in their enduring quest for power – see Wednesday, Jan. 6 – to obstruct and deny Democrats the progress they were voted in to bring about.
It’s on all of us to hold this new administration and Congress accountable, and to make clear what we want and need. A country like ours requires us to not only speak up in November every election year, but to stay active with our organizing groups, to stay engaged with the leaders we’ve hired to represent us, and/or stay aware of the changes being sought – and probably more importantly, those that aren’t.
There’s one more thing.
If Republicans are the ex that America just broke up with, if history has taught us anything, they’ll be sending us their “hey big head” text soon. History also says that come midterms in 2022, they’ll be back at our door, and it’s not unlikely they’ll be invited in to dinner, Netflix, chill and whatever else terrorists-of-the-heart like to pull.
They have shown us who they are in a breakup. Frankly, they’ve been showing us who they were and would be for years. It’s on us now to take the advice of the (Black) friend who’s been consistently telling America to move on because Republicans ain’t it.
Let’s do the work on us, get America’s groove back, and maybe find ourselves getting to happy, before they come calling. Because they will.
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