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An amazing night in Georgia
On the eve of the GOP's attempted coup, Democrats were taking control of the U.S. Senate.
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History was made Tuesday night as the Rev. Raphael Warnock became the first Black man to be elected to the Senate in Georgia, beating the odious incumbent Republican Kelly Loeffler, who ran a campaign dominated by racist attacks and subservience to Donald Trump.
And Jon Ossoff unseated David Perdue, the incumbent Republican who, like Loeffler, had been accused of using his seat for financial gain, making a killing in the stock market with privileged information he obtained early on about the coming coronavirus pandemic. Ossoff, a Jewish-American and 33-years old (which would make him the youngest senator), is also a history-making senator-elect in Georgia. And like Warnock, he ran on a bold, progressive agenda — and getting people much-needed money, such as $2000 stimulus checks.
This is a stunning defeat for Republicans, and and an enormous win for Democrats, who will take control of the Senate, bringing the body to a 50-50 tie with Vice President Kamala Harris breaking that tie as the president of the Senate. With Democrats in control of the House and the Senate, President Joe Biden will be able to get his Cabinet nominees and other appointees — including federal judges — approved, and will be able to pass sweeping legislation, including much-needed legislation to further address the coronavirus pandemic and bring more relief to Americans suffering under the economic collapse.
The outcome also couldn’t be more of a rebuke to Trump. He’s bitterly attacked the Republican Party in Georgia for the past two months over his narrow loss to Biden there in the presidential race — falsely claiming voter fraud —and then dropped a bomb on the runoffs when he threatened the Georgia Secretary of State, Brad Raffensperger, on Saturday, demanding he “find” the votes to flip the state in a conversation which was taped and leaked to the media.
The hard work of so many activists, who fought to make sure Georgia finally had senators who would fight for its people rather than enrich themselves, made this happen. The profoundly astute Stacey Abrams led the way, focusing, as she has counseled many times, on getting the base out, rather than wasting time trying to bring in moderates and Republicans. That is a key lesson to take from what’s happening in Georgia. These races were nail-biters, but showed that when the base gets out in force, even in a long-red state, it can put Democrats over the top.
The Black community turned out in massive numbers, not just in urban centers but throughout rural Georgia. Ossoff and Perdue outperformed Biden’s 2020 presidential race numbers in many counties, largely because Black voter turnout was stronger than in the 2020 presidential race while turnout among whites in rural counties was comparatively lower than in November. Again, a rebuke to running as a Trumpist.
The racist attacks by the Republican candidates, and the constant bowing to Trump, backfired, bringing the Democratic base out in droves. Meanwhile, as we saw in Kentucky and Louisiana in the governors’ races in 2019, and in House and Senate races over these four years, when Trump isn’t on the ballot he just can’t get enough of his voters to turn out for the GOP’s candidates, even when he campaigns for those candidates in their states and districts.
All of this came on the eve of the GOP’s attempted coup today during the Congressional certification of the Electoral College vote, and is a disaster for Senator Mitch McConnell, who will now be minority leader. Another example of how Donald Trump destroys everything in his wake. Republicans in the House and the Senate today are actually going to try to throw out votes of battleground states in a futile attempt — and Loeffler, days ago, had promised she would be moving to toss out the votes in her own state.
The Republicans who led this effort in the Senate — Senator Josh Hawley of Missouri and Senator Ted Cruz of Texas, and those who are following them, as well as the over 100 GOP members of the House who are part of his this coup attempt — look all the more seditious after the Georgia runoffs. And they look incredibly weak, too, as the American people are continuing to speak, rejecting Trumpism even in the deep South.
Republicans have been held captive to Trump — of their own free will — and now will see it’s not easy to extricate themselves while he takes them down. What happened in Georgia is going to play out in future elections. As the GOP is in disarray, Democrats will be able to expand their wins.
These years have been horribly damaging under Trump, but Democrats and progressives now will be able to pass legislation on critically important issues, from climate change and criminal justice to voting rights and LGBTQ equality. While some conservative Democratic senators, like Joe Manchin of West Virginia, have said they’re opposed to ending the filibuster, progressives must push forward and make sure pressure is brought to bear on him and others, as the opportunity is too great right now.
So, even as we’re seeing chaos and assaults on our democracy today in Congress — and Trump is still an enormous danger until he’s gone on January 20th — the future is indeed brighter and we should be proud of the work that was done.