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George on Georgia – We won. Yay. What comes next?

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George on Georgia – We won. Yay. What comes next?

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George Chidi


So. Democrats won. Good.

Democrats won by the skin of their teeth. Democrats won under conditions where they could have easily lost, and did: the very capable Daniel Blackman isn’t going to close the gap. Democrats won because it didn’t rain in Atlanta yesterday. Democrats won like the rebels getting the Death Star plans to Princess Leia with Vader lighting up the hallway

We stand on a battlefield surrounded by the dead and dying. Literally. Remember what things look like today, when we are doing this again in two years.

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Jon Ossoff is going to win by something less than 22,000 votes on about 4.4 million votes cast. Had one out of 400 voters changed their mind, any real chance to reverse the madness of the Trump era would have evaporated.

Had one or both of them lost last night by equally-thin margins, we would be talking about voter suppression, or the racism and antisemitism of the electorate, perhaps. I think that’s weak sauce. The election set records for turnout. Every possible resource that could have been mustered, was. Had they lost, we would hear the predictable complaints about insufficient appeal to voters of color – the Asian and Latino community – and insufficient mobilization of resources in rural Georgia. Those problems remain true, even in victory.

But as long as this state and this country remains this polarized, our divisions will be weaponized both by the politically ambitious and by our enemies. We will remain in a state of faction and war and ruin, with another half a billion dollars spent in a political potlatch every time there’s a close race and every policy initiative an exercise in trench warfare.

This isn’t a call for unity. That would require Republicans to be able to negotiate in good faith.

And they’re not ready yet.

Even now, today, rather than begin the necessary soul-searching, performing an after-action review of the contest and adjusting their strategy, they are mired in self-delusion about the causes of their losses.

Even as Democrats marvel at their victory, they should consider how easily Republicans could have taken it away from them. If they had been more sensible about addressing the pandemic, or economic relief, or been a hair less combative on issues of race, or avoided funky stock trades, or tried to present a positive rationale for their candidacy instead of relentless attack advertising, or shown even some marginal flash of humanity in the wake of the human devastation of the day … one in 400 voters. That’s all Perdue needed. One in 200 for Kelly Loeffler.

Instead, they’re blaming the voting machines, fraud and a conspiracy by members of their own party to deny them a victory.

So, no. Not unity. But not revenge, either. We need justice first. Then we can begin the search for truth and reconciliation.

Justice will begin with the immediate arrest and trial of the president.

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Trump has committed many crimes over the last four years, but none quite as clearly as the attempt to strong arm Georgia Secretary of State Brian Raffensperger on Saturday. We have plain recorded evidence. We have witnesses. The federal and state statutes are clear. And I strongly suspect more will emerge once people no longer feel constrained by the threat of a Trump-directed federal agency causing problems.

What Trump will have left are the goons in the street, as we are seeing today in Washington D.C.

Trump’s arrest will lead to calls for massive resistance, armed conflict and civil war. But the politics of thuggery and omerta have to be confronted head on if we are ever to emerge from this as the nation we were. If we let this go, this gets worse.

– George Chidi is a political columnist and public policy advocate. He also writes for The Intercept

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