Very soon, by the looks of things, the state of Georgia will elect its first black senator, maybe another Democrat too, and the Democrats will gain effective control – whatever the formal arithmetic – of both houses of Congress, as well as the White House.
Not bad for “Sleepy Joe”. Not since the first couple of years of President Obama’s time has a Democrat president had that luxury. As the sign behind the presumptive senator Raphael Warnock reads: “Thank You, Georgia”.
Provided President-elect Biden doesn’t try to slam through radical measures or offensive appointments of officials, he should be able to win some legislative room for manoeuvre, though things will often still be tight up on the Hill.
Senators are not robots, in other words, and there are independent minded figures on both sides who will go their own principled, stubborn maverick way, as the late John McCain did so gloriously. All will fight for their state’s interests, looking for the “pork” in any bill. That’s representative democracy for you. If it were not so, America could save on salaries and perks and replace this variously distinguished, doltish, rascally and unremarkable collection of men and women with piles of red and blue plastic counters.
How did the previously reliably Republican state flip like this? Well, it wasn’t fraud. If the Republicans really believe that it is, they’ll never make a comeback. Partly it is social and demographic change, and the gradual arrival of the “New South”, a far more diverse, liberal, urban and suburban place than might have been thought possible a few decades ago.
Second, the change in Georgia proves the power of campaigning. Activist politicians such as Stacey Abrams persuaded people of colour in particular that it was worth their while registering to vote. Now we see the results of that.
The other message from Georgia is that Donald Trump is a huge electoral liability. After November he became even more unhinged and more frightening. The net result must have been to frighten some potential supporters away, and to make Democrat voters even more determined to turn out to stop the madman from securing a vicarious victory and vindication for his attempts to steal the presidential election.
Trump can still raise a crowd in a stadium to anger and hate, but he can’t win elections. To borrow the Trump Twitter style: “Trump’s a LOSER!!! CANNOT WIN IN 2024!”
Thus, America and the world can once again say: thank you, Georgia.
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