The devil went down to Georgia. He was lookin’ for a soul to steal. He was in a bind ‘cause he was way behind. And he was willin’ to make a deal. –Charlie Daniels Band, 1979
On December 5, the most delusional, most undemocratic, most paranoid, most narcissistic, most incompetent and most corrupt president in my lifetime (and I go back to Van Buren) descended upon Valdosta, Georgia like a giant stink bomb. Donald Trump, the biggest sore loser in centuries, held his first post-election rally that was also yet another super-spreader event even while Covid cases continue to set daily records in hospitalizations and deaths. I suspect some of those attending the basically mask-less, ego-stroking rally will be leaving us in the not-too-distant future.
Ostensibly, Trump was there to motivate
his troops to support the two Republican senatorial candidates in a crucial
runoff election on January 5, David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler. But as predicted
Trump echoed the same lies, the same misinformation and the same
unsubstantiated garbage that somehow the election was stolen from him; it was
rigged; and that only widespread fraud kept him from enjoying and enriching
himself and his family in a second term.
“They cheated and rigged our
presidential election but we’ll still win it. And they are going to try to rig
this election too,” Trump told the cheering crowd.
During the month following the
election in which he lost by around 7 million votes and by 74 in the electoral
college, Trump attacked our democracy and the election process with his
inflammatory and untrue rhetoric that included zeroing in on Georgia as the
runoff to decide which party will control the Senate looms.
That surely isn’t helping to gin up
support and turnout for the two flawed Republican incumbents. Former members of
Trump’s hapless legal team, which is challenging the results in several swing
states armed with no evidence of wrongdoing, urged Trump believers not to vote
in the runoff because the system was rigged and rife with fraud, (Translation: Attempts at voter suppression failed; Black voters are voting.)
The GOP infighting, normally more
common among the Dems, is the catalyst the Democratic candidates—Rev. Raphael
Warnock and Jon Ossoff—will need to overcome the intrinsic electoral disadvantages
in Georgia. Who would ever suspect that as recently as a month ago, Georgia
Governor and Trump toady Brian Kemp, Trump’s supplicant Attorney General
William Barr and Trump state TV’s FOX News, would be in the crosshairs of Trump
and his cult-of-personality followers?
Though some in his flock have
drifted—a whopping 27 Republicans in Congress out of the 249 seated
actually acknowledged Joe Biden’s decisive victory—Trump has terrified
Republican officeholders into toeing the mantra that the election was
fraudulent or that Trump has the right to pursue all legal means to overturn
the results in what has amounted to be the theatre of the absurd. He even
demanded to know who those 27 are.
Nobody can get into Trump’s
disturbed brain. But either he truly believes that he won the race for not the
widespread fraud, which miraculously affected his totals but not the down
ballot contests where Republicans did better, or that this is another con from
the best conman this planet has ever known.
Since the election, Trump has
raised hundreds of millions of dollars from his supporters to help pay for his
election-related legal challenges. Except the fine print indicates that most of
the money raised can be spent on other matters. I see Trump using this largess
to pay off sizable loans that are coming due. But don’t tell that to the
gullible Trump supporter.
As for Georgia, I am not
convinced that despite Biden’s 12,000 vote margin of victory following multiple
recounts, the Peach State has turned blue. Many Republicans decided that Trump was too much but returned to the fold down ballot. Ossoff, for example, amassed far
fewer voters than Biden did. Republicans control all the levers of power in
Georgia, and outside the Atlanta and Savannah metropolitan areas, by and large,
it is a conservative state.
For the Democrats to sweep this
critical doubleheader (and they must sweep for Dems to relegate Moscow Mitch
McConnell to minority status), the two candidates will need another massive
turnout both through absentee and in-person voting. The efforts by Stacey
Abrams to register new, young and minority voters spearheaded Biden’s triumph
there. Similar work will be essential.
Moreover, Trump’s continued
assault on our democracy, his un-American refusal to accept defeat and move on to
a smooth and peaceful transition of power, and his attacks via countless rage tweets against Republican
officials including the dangerous violence-stoking rhetoric in Georgia may
diminish turnout sufficiently for the Dems to squeeze by.
The devil went down to Georgia
looking for a soul to steal, and for Democrats, that might prove to be the best
holiday gift of all.