Joseph Klein, Checks and balances are out the window.
The midnight train to Georgia has derailed. Republicans’ long winning streak in Georgia’s Senate elections ended abruptly. Democrat Rev. Raphael Warnock, the first black Democrat to be elected to the Senate from the South, beat the Republican incumbent Kelly Loeffler in one of two January 5th run-off Senate races, 50.7 percent to 49.3 percent. “Welcome to the new Georgia,” Warnock told NPR on Wednesday morning. The “new Georgia” elected a rabble rouser who has said that you can’t serve God and the military, that the police are thugs and gangsters, and that “the Marxist Critique has much to teach the black church.”
Democrat Jon Ossoff defeated Republican incumbent David Perdue in the second run-off race by a closer margin of 50.3 percent to 49.6 percent. Ossoff, aged 33, has no government experience. Ossoff does have the distinction of being the highest-funded candidate in the history of Senate elections, with the bulk of his funding coming from out-of-state. Big Tech was a big source of contributions. Alphabet Inc. alone (the parent of Google) contributed over $900,000 to the Ossoff Senate campaign, more than seven times the amount contributed to Purdue by his largest corporate donor.
With a 50-50 split in the Senate, Democrat Vice President-elect Kamala Harris will have the tie-breaking vote, which means that the Democrats will effectively control the Senate once Harris takes office on January 20th. Chuck Schumer will then become the Senate Majority Leader. Last November, Schumer declared his intentions if that should happen: “Now we take Georgia, then we change America!”
Progressive Democrat Senator Ed Markey summed up what to expect with Democrats in charge of the White House and both chambers of Congress when he tweeted, “The age of incrementalism is over.” Progressive “Squad” members in the House of Representatives exulted over the prospect of “transformative change across America.” Joe Biden will be able to pursue his legislative agenda without having to worry about negotiating with Mitch McConnell, especially if the Democrats get rid of the legislative filibuster.
Checks and balances will be out the window. The Senate Democrats will have free rein to confirm whomever Biden nominates, no matter how radical. Democratic Socialist Bernie Sanders will likely chair the all-important Senate Budget Committee, which spearheads the Senate’s spending priorities. If the Democrats in the Senate all stick together, they will be able to end the legislative filibuster. Then, working with the Democrat-controlled House, they will be in a position to pass legislation to pack the Supreme Court, seizing control of the one remaining bulwark against a leftist progressive agenda. They will be able to establish new statehoods for Puerto Rico and the District of Columbia, which will solidify their hold on the Senate. They will likely enact much higher taxes, impose a regulatory stranglehold on the economy, and move ahead with some version of the Green New Deal and socialized healthcare.
West Virginia Democratic Senator Joe Manchin may provide a brake on the Democrats’ worst excesses if he follows through on his promise to oppose getting rid of the legislative filibuster. But he has not shown much courage previously in standing up to pressure exerted by Schumer and the Democrat caucus.
How did the once reliably red state of Georgia flip to blue? The coronavirus pandemic was the Republican senators’ implacable opponent. Big government thrives in times of crisis. Georgian voters were lured by the argument that the only thing standing in their way of receiving a $2000 government COVID-19 relief check was Senator Mitch McConnell and a Republican-controlled Senate.
Moreover, as in the presidential race, the pandemic served as a handy justification for rolling out unprecedented widespread mail-in voting, which is fraught with the potential for fraud. In Georgia, no photo ID for mail-in voting was required, while voters casting their ballots in person had to show a photo ID.
Georgia’s Republican Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger bears some of the blame. He agreed to a consent decree with the Democrats last March, which made it easier for defective mail-in ballots, which had been originally rejected, to be fixed after the fact and be counted anyway. Moreover, Raffensperger agreed to laxer signature matching procedures.
More importantly, Democrats managed to turn out their base. Republicans did not. As Tuesday night wore on, it was becoming apparent that both Warnock and Ossoff were performing better in county after county than Joe Biden performed in November. Eight in ten voters of color cast ballots for Ossoff and Warnock. A majority of women and of college-educated voters supported the Democrats, as did about 60 percent of voters ages 18 to 44.
President Trump’s relentless attacks on the integrity of the presidential election in Georgia and on Georgia’s Republican leaders, whether merited or not, did Purdue and Loeffler no favors. Trump held two rallies on their behalf but spent valuable time at each rally airing his own grievances. This had the effect of discouraging some Trump supporters from voting in the Senate run-off elections because they were led to distrust the system.
Democrat activist Stacey Abrams, who ran for governor and lost to Brian Kemp in 2018, is today’s hero of the left. “We should not stop at denouncing the lack of smarts on the Republican side,” Van Jones wrote. “We must also praise the real genius of Georgia’s activists and organizers. This is not just a story about the final failure of Trump. It is a story of the success of Stacey Abrams.”
Abrams used her New Georgia Project and Fair Fight organization to mobilize a massive turnout for the Democratic Senate run-off candidates. Her groups focused their attention on registering people of color, those 18 to 29 years of age, unmarried women, lower income people, and newly arrived residents from blue states, and then getting them out to vote. “Across our state, we roared,” Abrams tweeted. She said that the Senate races were “just the beginning. We are in the next phase, and this is the phase that everyone knows it’s possible, and now we have to get to the place where it’s permanent.”
The Democratic Party’s presidential and Senate victories in Georgia continue a major political realignment that has been going on for some time in parts of the South and Southwest. Virginia has turned blue. So have Arizona, New Mexico, and Nevada. North Carolina is in flux. Texas is still red but taking on a purple tinge.
There is an increasing push to make universal mail-in voting the norm. Democrats, including Joe Biden, also support granting a path to citizenship to the millions of illegal immigrants already in the country who will likely vote for the Democratic ticket. If these efforts succeed, we may be well on the way to permanent one-party rule in Washington D.C.