Photo by M. Daniels from TRT World Broadcast
June 20, 2017 – 8:00 am
Today the citizens of the “Georgia 6th” will vote in a special election to replace former Congressional Representative Tom Price, Trump’s pick for Health and Human Services Secretary. Already touted as the most expensive Congressional race in history, this contest between Democrat Jon Ossoff and Republican Karen Handel has become a midsummer referendum on Trump and the Republican majority.
This morning, even after a gush of pre-dawn Trump Tweets, an odious PAC ad tying Ossoff to the recent shootings in Arlington, a tsunami of mendacious anti-Ossoff tweets from one Republican entrepreneur, and a recent suspicious hacking of the Georgia Election System, the race has been deemed too close to call. An Ossoff win would send a stentorian message to Republicans everywhere:
STOP IGNORING THE NEEDS OF MORE THAN HALF OF THE AMERICAN ELECTORATE IN YOUR QUEST TO MAKE LIFE EASIER FOR THE RICH!
But will the stalwart Republican Gingrichians of the Georgia 6th actually elect a Democrat? Or will they stay the course and elect Georgia Secretary of State Karen Handel, the architect of the Komen/Planned Parenthood grant controversy?
I have noticed that when Republicans feel threatened in any election, they turn to the dirtiest tactics imaginable—suppressing votes among the poor and disenfranchised, fiddling with election systems, creating great python-like districts designed to minimize the impact of black voters, as in the North Carolina 12th, running PAC attack ads that engender terror among white voters, flooding the Twit Universe with fallacious information, as in the Pizzagate nonsense and, of course, linking the democrat to the dread Nancy Pelosi and San Francisco politics.
In today’s very close special election all of the above antics have allegedly been employed with generosity. My question: How do these Republicans, these defenders of “family values” and American “greatness” justify the astounding level of dishonesty they employ just to win an election? Is not our democracy, the right of the people to freely chose their leaders, more important than a partisan victory? What on earth are these flag-waving, bible-thumping pillars of righteousness fighting for, if not for democracy? Do their bible’s not say, “Thou Shalt Not Steal?” “Thou Shalt Not Bear False Witness Against Thy Neighbor?” Why can’t the Republicans ever just run on the issues; on the merit of their solutions to our national problems?
My answer: First of all, most conservatives cleave to an idealized version of the 1950s and would like to see us turn back the national clock to a time when white men ruled every aspect of our society; when women, people of color, and the gay community had no voice. But they can’t very well run on that platform in the 21st century so they run on the platform of lower taxes and WAR—wars against drugs, war against crime, wars against terrorists, wars against any nation which interferes with American corporate imperialism and the ongoing, endless war against “liberalism.” They tell us the Democrat will raise our taxes, will be weak on crime and support for the military, will be a Pelosi puppet. And 46% of the American electorate nod their heads and re-tweet the simplistic slogans and false accusations as truth.
This Trump Tweet, for example, I found after I wrote the above paragraph:
“Democrat Jon Ossoff, who wants to raise your taxes to the highest level and is weak on crime and security, doesn’t even live in district.” (1)
Also, the American electorate, as a whole, responds better to a short, memorable slogan than to a complex discussion of the issues. “Make America Great Again” wins out over “We are stronger together, when we act on a set of plans and priorities that will redound to the benefit of the American people.” (2) The first requires no thought, no deliberation; its poetic assonance rolls of the tongue with ease. The second, although true and more specific, just doesn’t fit well on a baseball cap. Even when distilled down to “Stronger Together,” the phrase lacks poetic punch, the concept remains complex, open to various interpretations, things for which the American electorate has no patience. Conversely, Bernie Sander’s slogan, “Feel the Bern,” shines as a brand– three one-syllable words, a clever double entendre and poetically powerful. See, Democrats you, too, can be brilliantly simple when you try.
REGARDING THE RESULTS OF GEORGIA HOUSE SPECIAL ELECTION:
Relax everybody–This is not the end of the Democratic Party. First of all, this election took place in Georgia and the Deep South Republican attack machine was operating at full capacity to defame and denigrate Democrat Jon Ossoff, who only lost by 3.7%–not bad for a 30-year-old filmmaker who lives with his girlfriend outside the 6th District.
Secondly, banjo players and documentary film makers are lovely people I am sure, but are they the best candidates to take on stalwart Republicans in deep red states?
Thirdly, Georgia just elected the first woman Republican to Congress. That by itself would be a sweet consolation prize but for Handel’s stance against women’s reproductive rights. But even Handel has taken fire from the right for supporting the rape/incest exception within the abortion ban, a position much less extreme than that of Senator Marco Rubio. (3)
Fourthly, none of the effects of Trump’s policies have landed on Main Street, USA yet. Just wait until the Republicans actually pass and enact legislation: when favorite programs like Food Stamps, Meals on Wheels and Head Start are no more; when healthcare becomes unattainable for 23 million people, again; when we end up at war with North Korea, Iran or Russia because of amateur mistakes; when the unregulated financial industry snorts its way into the next financial crisis. Then, maybe, the American Electorate will demand sweeping change—again—and the pendulum will swing the other way.
“One of the penalties for refusing to participate in politics is that you end up being governed by your inferiors.” –Plato
- Bradner, Eric; Republican Karen Handel Wins Georgia House Special Election, CNN, June 21, 2017: http://www.cnn.com/2017/06/20/politics/georgia-house-results-ossoff-handel/index.html
- Waldman, Paul; What Hillary Clinton’s latest slogan — ‘we’re stronger together’ — really says about her candidacy; Washington Post: May 23, 2016: https://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/plum-line/wp/2016/05/23/what-hillary-clintons-latest-slogan-were-stronger-together-really-says-about-her-candidacy/?utm_term=.44f1b67d790b
- Rappeport, Alan; Marco Rubio Clarifies His Position on Abortion; New York Times, August 7, 2017: https://www.nytimes.com/politics/first-draft/2015/08/07/marco-rubio-clarifies-his-position-on-abortion/