I awoke Wednesday morning giddy with excitement and went to sleep with sadness in my heart. In the AM, the news about Raphael Warnock’s historic election to win a seat in the senate made me want to turn cartwheels. Georgia turning bluer shook Dixie and made me happy. By Wednesday afternoon, an insurrection gained momentum in the nation’s capital and our country wept.
My weekly column was done, but I put it on hold and wrote as fast as my fingers and brain would allow. It’s hard to type (OK, hunt-and-peck, but that’s another column) when my head spins in amazement.
I was thrilled about Warnock and hopeful about the John Ossoff race, which he won. The election of Warnock, pastor of the spiritual home of Martin Luther King and John Lewis, and the election of Ossoff, who will be the youngest member of the senate, signals that Georgia is becoming a more progressive state.
In 50 years, Georgia evolved from electing the segregationist Lester Maddox governor to sending a Black man to the Senate.
After Congress passed the Civil Rights Act of 1964, Georgia protested desegregation by electing Maddox governor. A staunch supporter of racial segregation, Maddox resisted integration as much as possible. Every state has a past. Thankfully, every state has a future.
Warnock is our future. His victory might be due to social justice evolution, but it’s more realistically due to migration when northerners who moved South changed our right and left-leaning political demographics.
No matter what forces contribute to residents of the Peach State awakening to our new reality, the cockles of my heart are warm, and victory is sweet. That’s not gloating. It’s relief that I moved to a state that’s not totally consumed by conspiracy theories and Q nonsense. Rejecting foolishness is good for Georgia’s image, which is good for business.
State Republicans were quick to throw Trump under the bus as a sacrifice for their losses. When he could have preached unity, he fractured his party by continuing to fight his election results. When he could have instilled confidence in the voting system, he spouted unproven theories about rigged elections. When he could have encouraged his base to vote in the Georgia races, he continued to contest his election results, instead of rallying his troops for victory.
The elections ended not a minute too soon for me. I was at the tipping point, when I wanted to throw the television in the bathtub and drown voices blaring from the obscenely expensive, non-stop ads that had become nauseating, irritating and redundant to the point of mind-numbing. Not to mention unnecessary, because, I’d argue, voters’ minds were made up since the November election, and none stood to be changed.
In Washington, negotiation will be back and gridlock will lessen. Elected leaders will have to deal with this new calculus, and be reminded, or learn, that politics is the art of compromise.
Georgia’s hopeful election news came on the morning that promised a clown show showdown on Capitol Hill. The day designated to certify the Electoral College votes for President-elect Biden’s win faced reality show drama. A group of 13 Republicans in the Senate and 100 in the House — the Sedition Caucus — were poised to object to the certification. They couldn’t have picked a worse day to grab publicity.
A futile attempt? Grand-standing? Pandering? Yes. Destined to succeed? No.
Trump invited supporters to gather in D.C. to protest the Electoral College certification and tweeted, “Big protest in D.C. on January 6th. Be there, will be wild!” That morning, he fired up his supporters who rallied and incited them to march to the Capitol. After lunch, hordes of sign-carrying Trump loyalists breached the building, broke windows, invaded chambers and ran amok.
A joint session of the House and the Senate that convened to count electoral votes adjourned and the rampage continued live on TV. America looked like a Banana Republic. My daughter Sommer was at work. As she drove home, she said the city was in total chaos. Countries around the world that don’t want democracy celebrated our dark day.
To pay homage to the historic Georgia election victories, I dust off my photo of a smiling President Jimmy Carter and a smiling, dimpled me holding hands under a tent at a Habitat for Humanity work site in Charlotte in 1987.
Carter is wearing jeans and a red Habitat for Humanity cap. The sleeves of his plaid shirt are rolled up. I’m wearing a turquoise above-the-knee shirtwaist culotte with three-quarter sleeves and a khaki straw hat with cotton band. My only jewelry is an oval onyx ring and my aunt’s antique gold watch with a black leather band. I wore a Habitat Staff name tag because I’d led the fundraising effort that raised 1.5 million dollars to build those 13 Habitat homes in a week.
The picture is signed “J Carter” and “Rosalyn Carter.” I wonder what President Carter thinks about what happened in Washington today: a thuggish attack on the Capitol incited by a sore loser.