Fighting for Georgia

“If he [Trump] continues to disillusion voters … by saying that the elections were rigged and that your vote doesn’t matter, this could have severe consequences for the administration in trying to keep those two seats Republican,” pollster-pundit and alleged Republican Frank Luntz said on “Squawk Box.” 

In this stern admonition Luntz indicates what he considers to be the greatest danger facing Republicans in the runoff race for the two Senate seats in Georgia on January 5. Luntz’s warning puts his own spin on what purports to be an objective analysis of the forthcoming election. But Luntz’s comments do not seem to be especially convincing. Why would I think that because Trump has refused to concede openly and emphatically (when there is no need for him to do that now or ever), Republican candidates in Georgia’s senatorial races will be taking a severe hit? 

It seems that at least some Republicans will not support candidates who are not standing foursquare behind Trump in his raging electoral battles. Georgia Senator David Perdue suggested that Trump should throw in the towel while talking to Republican moderate Karl Rove. Perdue later partly retracted by indicating that he’s still with Trump and would welcome his support. Moreover, since the president is about to go down to Georgia to campaign for Perdue and Kelly Loeffler, the connection between him and the Republican candidates will be made even more obvious. 

Since 75 percent of Republicans, according to Newsweek, believe the election abounded in fraud, why shouldn’t Trump loudly proclaim the same view? The people who think the election was as perfect as election officials have been telling us, in any case, will not be voting Republican. They are more likely to be in the Democratic camp and are already rejoicing over Biden’s good fortune. Further, two-thirds of Republican respondents in a Politico poll taken last week said they would support Trump if he entered the presidential race for 2024. If Trump already enjoys that level of support for a future presidential race, it’s hard to see how his complaints about the recent presidential election could hurt Republicans in Georgia.

But there is one ominous obstacle to a Republican victory on January 3, and it is the one that Luntz leaves out of his remarks. Unless the mail-in ballots and the likelihood of fraud can be stopped, there may be no victory for either Loeffler or Perdue. About 800,000 mail-in ballot requests have already been submitted; and Georgia’s secretary of state and election board have voted to extend the use of round-the-clock drop boxes for completed ballots. The use of drop boxes was supposed to expire by late December, but the Republican government has taken steps to make them available even longer. Mail-in voting has been made as convenient as possible; and Georgia’s Republican administration has chosen this course for an obvious reason.  Both Governor Brian Kemp and Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger are quintessential Southern Republicans, who quake in terror when black race hustlers like Stacey Abrams call them “racists.” They have therefore given in to a weird demand, one that makes it almost impossible to throw out ballots with mismatched signatures. 

Three election officials must be consulted under the consent decree (ironed out between Kemp and the Democrats) before a ballot is rejected. This may account for the fact that the rejection rate for faulty ballots in this month’s election was less than a tenth of what it was in 2016. Abrams and other black activists, who pushed for this measure know how to intimidate guilt-ridden, wimpy Republicans. Although Kemp has promised that stricter standards will be applied for the runoff races, it may be foolish to bet on that happening.

Being stuck with Kemp and Raffensperger as one’s allies may pose an even greater problem for the Right than fraudulent ballots. Stacey Abrams and Reverend Raphael Warnock, a Democratic candidate for the Senate, hardly warm my heart.  But one knows where one stands with such adversaries. When Warnock tells us that “racism is the pre-existing condition” among white Americans or when Abrams rails against “systemic racism,” it is clear these figures are not on my side. But one can’t state with the same certainty that Kemp and Raffensperger are the friends of Stacey’s opponents. These politicians do not show the same iron will and sense of self-identity as do those who are using them. 

On November 20, Kemp and Raffensperger pleased CNN and MSNBC when they perhaps prematurely certified Biden had won the Georgia presidential race. Days later they were backed into allowing another recount.  Meanwhile evidence has surfaced, which the Amistad Project has brought forth, that 200,000 “mishandled” ballots had been mixed in with the official totals (in which Biden beat Trump in Georgia by 12,670 votes). Might we assume that responses would have differed if Stacey Abrams, not Kemp, had become governor of Georgia in 2018, and if a Democratic presidential candidate were complaining about fraud in her state? Only an idiot could believe that Abrams would act as timidly as her Republican opponents or would have made deals that were disadvantageous to the Left.

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About Paul Gottfried

Paul Edward Gottfried is the editor of Chronicles. An American paleoconservative philosopher, historian, and columnist, Gottfried is a former Horace Raffensperger Professor of Humanities at Elizabethtown College in Elizabethtown, Pennsylvania, as well as a Guggenheim recipient.

Photo: Megan Varner/Getty Images