Who Lost Georgia and Ushered in Democrat Dominance in Washington?

AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite

Almost lost in the universal furor of President Trump’s rally on the National Mall, the assault on the U.S. Capitol, and the second Trump impeachment is the GOP’s loss of both United States Senate run-offs in Georgia.  With two razor-thin runoff margins (1.0 percent for Ossoff; 1.8 percent for Warnock) Democrats once again have at least nominal control of the White House and both Houses of Congress for at least the next two years.

Over the four years of the Trump administration, Republicans and conservatives made great gains in federal appeals courts, including the Supreme Court. But because conservatives and conservative judges alike believe that the judiciary’s job is to say what the law is and not what it should be, the courts are likely to be less active and more reactive than they have been the past four years.

With a more supine Congress, President-elect Joe Biden need not stretch his executive powers in the manner of at least the last two administrations, and his opportunity to get all the cabinet picks he wants just increased dramatically.  And because personnel is policy, the Democratic party will be well-positioned to implement at least most of the policies that it wants. If Congress does not foolishly pursue a doomed second impeachment trial in the Senate, a new president can get a lot done in the first 100 days.

Those few remaining senators in the middle—primarily Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV), Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME), and Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK)—may help stop such proposals as the abolition the Electoral College, statehood for Puerto Rico and the District of Columbia, and expansion of the Supreme Court. But the incoming administration can now largely reverse many of the conservative gains of the Trump administration. That includes reimplementing job-killing regulation of the economy and redistribution of earned income; racial preferences in all spheres of society; once again greenlighting Iran’s nuclear weapons development program; and continuing to downplay the threat of an increasingly aggressive Communist Chinese Party.

For self-styled progressives, this may be a dream come true, but for conservatives and libertarians it comes closer to a nightmare. So just as generations ago conservatives asked, “who lost China?” and “who lost Suez?” it’s not too soon to ask, “who lost Georgia?”  There are plenty of villains to choose from.

First and foremost, of course, is President Trump himself, who reflexively but typically overshadows his own best accomplishments. Instead of extolling all the good he has done for the American people and the world these past four years (record employment, a V-shaped recovery, improved Israeli-Arab relationships, energy independence, no new wars, and effective COVID-19 vaccines in record time, to name but a few) he chose to focus on his claim that the election was stolen.

Instead of leaving with his head held high and the support of millions of voters for a deep dive into what may have gone wrong with massive mail-in voting in the midst of a pandemic, he finds himself blamed for inciting insurrection and impeached yet again. At best, he leaves office looking bedraggled and undignified, and his otherwise impressive rallies have now been diminished.

But the real loss of Georgia to Democrat control began long ago. Quite simply, it can be traced to Democrats’ fundamentally different approach to winning elections from Republicans.

Both parties are effectively coalitions of interest groups. For Democrats, that means public employee union members, especially teachers; the media/entertainment industry; big tech and social media; the higher education establishment; and racial, ethnic, and gender minorities, both real and imagined, all of whom depend on big government for their jobs, benefits, customers, and grants. For Republicans, that means constitutional and economic conservatives, libertarians, Evangelical Christians, pro-life voters, and, more recently, high school educated blue-collar workers, most of whom simply want to be left alone to live their lives as they see fit.

So, one coalition is more invested, economically and philosophically, in government than the other, but is also more easily organized and in control of more levers of power than the other.  Democrats, like those working in Georgia, many of them from out of state, simply organize their voters better than Republicans, because they are more easily organized. By disparaging voter ID and the cleaning up of voter rolls, and by supporting same-day registration and mail-in balloting, they also help create a bigger pool of voters for Democrats to organize and Republicans to try to police. Stopping a few unlawful voters on election day pales in comparison to having created or collected thousands of voters beforehand.

Republicans lost Georgia, but they lost it long ago.

David L. Applegate ([email protected]) is a Chicago-based trial lawyer, partner at the law firm of Williams Montgomery & John Ltd., and a policy advisor to The Heartland Institute.