Want know something about elections in Georgia? How about listening to the man whose job it is oversee the state’s election apparatus.
Yet he has also witnessed up close the chaos and controversy Trump has caused in those weeks since 3 November, as even now he seeks to derail Biden’s ascent to the White House.
If Republicans Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue, the two Georgia Senate incumbents, failed to hold off challenges from Democrats Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff, where did Sterling think the blame should lie?
Sterling, a Republican, barely paused when interviewed by CNN. It was Trump.
“When you tell people, your vote doesn't count and has been stolen, and people start to believe that, then you go to the two senators and ask the secretary of state to resign and trigger a civil war in the Republican Party when we need to unite, all of that stems with his decision-making since the 3 November election,” he said.
As Sterling was speaking, the two races were too close to call. Shortly afterwards, Warnock delivered a live streamed speech in which he claimed he had won and reflected on its historic nature.
His mother had once picked cotton, and had now used those same hands to cast a ballot for her son, putting him on the brink of being the state’s first ever Black senator.
“We were told we couldn’t win this election,” he said. “But tonight, we proved that with hope, hard work and with the people by our side, anything is possible.”
An hour later, the Associated Press called the race for Warnock, making it official.
If Ossoff defeats Perdue, he will also make history, becoming the youngest member of the Senate. More crucially, their victories would hand control of the upper chamber to Democrats, along with the House. Mitch McConnell, who many Democrats hate more than Trump, will become minority leader, a painful demotion.
It need not have been this way. Trump only lost Georgia to Biden by fewer than 12,000 votes. Had he truly sought to unite the party behind Loeffler and Perdue, had he really thought about someone else for once other than himself, who knows what might have happened.
Instead, he has spent two months filing up to 60 lawsuits trying to overturn the election, persistently claimed he is the victim of fraud despite having no evidence, and acted in way that has tested the mettle of America’s institutions.
At the weekend, a phone call was leaked in which Trump was heard haranguing and bullying Sterling’s boss, Brad Raffensperger,
"I just want to find 11,780 votes," Trump said. “And the people of Georgia are angry, the people of the country are angry. And there's nothing wrong with saying, you know, um, that you've recalculated."
On Monday night, Trump went to Georgia, supposedly to rally on behalf of the two Republicans. As it was, predictably, he spent more time complaining and talking about himself.
“Hello, Georgia. By the way, there is no way we lost Georgia. There’s no way,” he said immediately after taking the stage. “That was a rigged election. But we are still fighting it.”
Later he added: “If they win, I’ll get no credit. If they lose, they’re going to blame Trump.”
These are the last, dog days of the Trump presidency. And they are not very pretty.
It could have been rather different. But Donald Trump wanted it to be like this. And for that, he is to blame.
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