If Georgia Republicans Don’t FIGHT for Trump, the GOP Will LOSE the Senate!!!
Posted by Steve Turley ● Dec 7, 2020 9:14:02 PM
“Fight for Trump! Fight for Trump!”
The chant from thousands of supporters gathered in Valdosta for the latest Trump rally was so deafening that David Perdue, one of two GOP senate candidates for Georgia’s January 5th runoff, was hardly able to get in a word edgewise. Standing before the presidential microphone, Perdue’s political rhetoric couldn’t compete with the volume of the vox populi, the voice of the people.
In many respects, the January senate runoff should not be close; Perdue and Kelly Loeffler were expected to run away with the election just weeks back. Yet, they are struggling; they are neck and neck or even losing to their Democrat opponents. And with the rally, I think we can see why: thus far, Loeffler and Perdue have distanced themselves from Trump’s fight to overturn what 53 percent of Georgians see as a fraudulent election. However, if they openly fight for Trump, they can expect to win overwhelmingly.
The calculus made clear at the rally was simple: fight for Trump, and the Deplorables will fight for you!
Unfortunately, establishment Republicans have yet to come to terms with this political reciprocity. Republican Governor Brian Kemp is still refusing to call a special session of Georgia’s legislature even though 58 percent of Georgians want him to do precisely that. To add insult to injury, their feckless Republican secretary of state Brad Raffensperger has actually claimed that a special session would “nullify the will of the people”!
Establishment Republicans appear to be persuaded by what we might call the ‘Trumpism without Trump’ thesis, the belief that they can hold together the new populist coalition without President Trump’s leadership. Writing for the New York Post, Salena Zito recently argued that the undeniable success of the Republican Party in down ticket races on November 3rd “coupled with the ‘loss’ of Trump proves that the GOP doesn’t need the president at the top of the ticket to hold its coalition together. And while the nation’s elite fervently hoped that conservative populism would disappear with Trump, 2020 proved this new voting bloc isn’t going anywhere … Trump was never the cause of this movement, he was the result of it.”
Zito’s assessment of November 3rd risks political disaster for the GOP, particularly for the January 5th senate runoff. This is not because populism is dependent on Trump. Rather, it is because the actions, or better, inactions of Georgia’s governor and secretary of state represent a fundamentally different politics than that advocated by populists.
In their 2018 study of nationalist populism, British scholars Roger Eatwell and Matthew Goodwin make a distinction between pragmatic and redemptive democracy, or what we will call the politics of the political class versus the politics of the people. As the Republican Party under Trump has become a nationalist populist party, it’s new base is not animated by ideological animosities (conservative vs. liberal) or party loyalties (Republican vs. Democrat); rather the new populist GOP is characterized by an antipathy between the people and the political class, the ruled versus the rulers. Populists are deeply suspicious of society’s elites who are seen governing for their own benefit at the expense of the benefit of those they claim to represent. With a widening gap between the values of the political class and the people, populists believe that the customs, culture, and traditions of a nation are best preserved when taken out of the hands of the ruling elite and placed back in the hands of ordinary citizens.
And this emphasis on the populace requires a different kind of politics. In the politics of the political class, governance operates according to the protocols and norms of a ruling elite. This is why establishment Republicans seem to live in a world all of their own, where the wishes of 58 percent of Georgians are so callously dismissed and disdained. The politics of the political class rules according to their own aristocratic values, which are increasingly at odds with the values of the citizens they claim to represent. In contrast, populists are driven more by what we might call a ‘redemptive’ vision of politics, or a politics of the people, which restores democratic rule and institutions as compatible with the values of the population, acting congruent with the concerns of the citizens. This is what made the Trump presidency so astonishing for so many; not only was he willing to enact the nationalist, populist, and traditionalist values of the Deplorables, he was willing to unwaveringly fight for them as well.
Here’s the problem for the Republicans: if the pragmatic politics of the political class wins out, if Georgia Republican legislatures refuse to fight for Trump, then the party will be guilty of completely dismissing the concerns of the Deplorables, the populist base of the GOP. And in perpetuating the dismissive elitism of our political class, the establishment Republican Party will further align itself with the very political class populists so disdain.
Having alienated their populist base, the Deplorables will simply not come out to vote for Loeffler and Perdue if establishment Republicans identify themselves and their party with the very political class that populists by definition oppose. As a result, the Republicans, having embraced the notion that they can maintain a populist base while governing according to the politics of the political class, will not just lose the Senate, they will lose the new GOP coalition as well.
So what can we do?
Georgia Republicans need to pressure Governor Kemp like never before to call a special session of the legislature. At the same time, they need to demand the majority of Republican senators and representatives sign a recent petition that allows them to go around the governor and call a special session themselves. Georgians must insist that the legislature exercise its constitutional authority to appoint electors that will rectify the fraud surrounding November 3rd, and secure the electoral integrity of the January 5th runoff by repealing the disastrous consent decree signed by the secretary of state as well as banning the use of anything related to Dominion Voting Systems. In other words, simply do what the people are demanding.
If Georgia Republicans fight for Trump and electoral integrity, Trump will win Georgia and the two GOP senate candidates will win in a landslide. As such, not only will the Republicans keep the Senate, but they will maintain a populist majority for decades to come.