By Adam Goodman, Guest Columnist
Today, the country of Georgia remains a thorn in the side of Putin and his misfit view of Russian manifest destiny that starts and ends with control, total control. In return, the Russians occupied part of the country, and sparked the first European War of the 21st century that continues to roil the region, and the western world.
Closer to home, Americans have another Georgia on their mind, where southern hospitality has given way to a battle royale for control of the U.S. Senate, the national agenda, and the fate of the free world. The implied rallying cry: to the winners, the spoils.
Yet overlooked in all of this one of America’s most vital safeguards hangs perilously in the balance: checks & balances. Embodied in Articles 1-3 of the Constitution, this democratic pillar for more than two centuries ensured we could move forward without succumbing to the extremes of ideology and emotion that too often in human history drove tempest and tyranny, incivility and inhumanity.
Now all eyes are focused on Cobb and Fulton Counties, on Election Day voting and post-election day counting, to determine whether checks in the nation’s Capitol can be written without any pretense to balance or dialogue.
If American voters have their way, they want loads of both.
As the election dust has (nearly) settled from the 2020 campaign, the results reveal that “we, the people” voted neither Democrat or Republican, right or left, but forward. We voted for moderation, not revolution, as the best way forward in remedying what ails and injures us.
The message was as loud as it was clear. Attack COVID without assaulting our livelihoods. Take on China and South Korea and Iran without igniting a third world war. Provide for conscience and protest, but punish violent criminality hiding within the ranks of both.
This is where the Georgia special elections are so much bigger than the contenders themselves. Instead of focusing on whether Kelly Loeffler has leadership chops, or an incident last year involving her opponent Raphael Warnock and his now ex-wife; or whether David Perdue had a conflict of interest, or Jon Ossoff has no hesitation in defunding the police.
Think bigger. Much bigger.
If Democrats capture both contested seats, the Senate will not fall into 50-50 parity but rather 51-50 hell. Vice President-elect Kamala Harris would quickly move out of normal VP anonymity into the abnormal brandishing of unchecked political power. As partisans refuse to see the world beyond their respective party bifocals, Harris – a liberal bent on getting even with the injustices of history – will embrace fixes championed by Ocasio-Cortez, Ilhan Omar, and other liberals wielding big megaphones but small experience.
If Loeffler and Perdue prevail, Americans will be able to sleep at night. Checks and balances will be alive and well, quelling misguided calls for socialism, total pandemic lockdowns, and rewarding those who’ve led our cities into civic intolerance and financial despair.
If not, fear not because there IS a silver lining to all of this. If Warnock and Ossoff make off with first prize, there are already signs that a January surprise is afoot, one that could force Kamala back into “Veep-like” humility and the nation towards moderate-like governance.
As evidenced by the nearly-complete stimulus package, a new power center from the center is emerging in the Senate (and, in similar fashion, the House).
Although maligned and mired in threatened election peril from both the left and right, six Senators – Mitt Romney, Susan Collins, and Lisa Murkowski on the right, Joe Manchin, Mark Warner and Angus King on the left – could hold the trump cards moving forward, a centrist coalition that’s bent more on getting things done than doing political opponents in.
This is where split government can forge a more unified America, a less divisive body politic, and a more civil society.
After the year we’ve just weathered, who amongst us isn’t rooting for that?