Playing the Blame Game in Georgia

AP Photo/Brynn Anderson

Last night, disaster was realized when the GOP lost both run-off Senate elections in Georgia. Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue were defeated in razor thin races. You’ll be less than shocked to learn that DeKalb County (metro Atlanta) was once again unable to count their votes on time, had “technical difficulties,” and ended up flipping the race with a midnight dump of votes.

Regardless, what this means is that Joe Biden will now enjoy a fully unified government under a party that continues to push further and further left, both socially and economically. To say things couldn’t be worse this morning politically is not really an understatement.

With that said, the blame game has already started, and as per our usual agreement everyone are retreating to their corners, confident in their proclamations that these defeats are solely Trump’s fault or completely Mitch McConnell’s fault. Oddly enough, no one seems to be blaming, you know, the candidates who lost, but we’ll get to that as well. Here’s the truth, though. There is a lot of blame to go around here, and while everyone wants their ego stroked and to be absolved from responsibility, I want to point some things out I think are obvious.

Let’s start with Trump, which will clearly be the most contentious topic to discuss, and I would beg you to read the entire article before jumping to conclusions on my opinions.

In my much shared opinion, the presidential race has been clearly over for at least a month, perhaps even a bit longer. To the extent that some outstanding legal challenges remained through mid-December, they were never going to flip the election because not enough states were in play (as far as challenges go) to do that. For example, even if Georgia went for Trump via some court ruling or something, he still loses the election. Thus, Trump obsessing over his loss in Georgia (fair or not) was a terrible strategy to pursue once it became clear that holding the Senate was the final line of defense for the betterment of the country. Turn out was down across rural counties last night, which means at least some consequential fraction of voters took the idea that everything was rigged to heart and threw their hands up. Trump’s leaked phone call to Raffensperger two days before the election also seemed to serve no purpose whatsoever. Did he really think Raffensperger, who has vehemently opposed Trump, was going to suddenly “re-calculate” the results? There’s fighting, and then there’s just running headlong into a firing line for no good reason. Politics should always be transactional, not dependent on emotion of personality.

Now, most conservative pundits stop there. They want to blame this singularly on Trump because that’s the easy thing to do. It requires no self-reflection, nor any reflection about the GOP politicians who remain in power. I say that’s nonsense. Trump may have played a role, but there are many other reasons Loeffler and Perdue lost last night.

Let’s talk about Mitch McConnell. The recent COVID relief package was a PR disaster. Giving only $600 per person out after locking people in their homes for almost a year is insane. It’s even more insane when you consider those payments made up only 7% of the total cost of the bill. And no, McConnell and other Republicans don’t get to cry about spending after they simultaneously pushed through a huge omnibus bill and a bloated NDAA. If you want to be fiscally conservative, you don’t start by refusing to give taxpayers back their own money. Given that, once Trump asked to have $2000 checks, McConnell should have jumped at the opportunity. Instead, he killed that effort in one of the dumbest political moves I’ve witnessed in a long time. Remember, there are a ton of voters who don’t care about the drama of politics. They simply see the Senate spending gobs of money on wars, foreign aid, and special interests and wonder why the heck they keep getting overlooked.

This is what I said last night on the matter.

Republican Congressional members never learn. They continue to dump money into their sacred cows without realizing that the country has moved its priorities. That doesn’t mean you have to spend more money overall. Heck, you could even spend less money overall, but what it does mean is that you can’t hand people $600 checks after destroying their livelihoods. That’s insane. That is not the place you start suddenly trying to be fiscally conservative. McConnell didn’t care, those $2000 checks will pass under Biden anyway, and now Republicans can’t stop any judges, appointments, or reconciliation bills. What was gained by that gambit? Absolutely nothing. If you want to whine that Trump was fighting a losing battle, then you must also whine that McConnell chose to stupidly fight a losing battle as well.

Lastly, let’s talk about the candidates themselves. Absolutely no one seems to be putting any blame on them, but they absolutely deserve blame. Kelly Loeffler is a terrible candidate. Why would any Republican Governor, in this case Brian Kemp, appoint an out of touch, billionaire, possibly inside trading on the pandemic politician to that position? If Democrats could have cooked up a candidate to run against in a lab, it would have been a clone of Kelly Loeffler. David Perdue is not much better, though he at least wasn’t handed his Senate seat the first time around. Neither of the candidates were charismatic, nor were they seen as people who could get things done. They were the worst the boiler-plate GOP has to offer. It didn’t have to be that way, and it absolutely contributed to the losses last night.

So there you have it: An article that is sure to please no one, but I really think it is the right take. The GOP is just a dumpster fire that can never rally and be strategic the way that Democrats can. Trump didn’t do his part, and yes, made matters worse. The GOP Senate and their campaign wings were inefficient and made really stupid policy decisions late that turned off voters. Finally, the candidates themselves were just terrible. All that adds up to losing the Senate.

(Please follow me on Twitter! @bonchieredstate)