The US state of Georgia on Wednesday afternoon appeared poised to present an early housewarming gift to President-elect Joe Biden, giving him a decent chance to break Washington’s deadlock And enact his agenda.
If the Democrats win the two Senate second-round elections in that state And gain control of the chamber, as is now widely expected, it will also mark a profound political shift in the American South, full of bleak omens for Donald Trump And a divided republican party.
Raphael Warnock, who defeated Senator Kelly Loeffler, made history as the first black senator from Georgia, a state shaped by the legacy of the civil war, the Jim Crow era, And the civil rights movement. Jon Scoff appeared to be on track to unseat Republican incumbent David Perdue And would become the youngest member of the Senate at age 33.
The resulting 50-50 split in the Senate would give incoming Vice President Kamala Harris the swing Vote And Make Democrat Chuck Schumer Majority Leader. That would give Democrats an unlikely clean sweep of the White House, Senate And House of Representatives in the long run after the November presidential election.
Warnock And Scoff can still help Biden implement what could be the most progressive legislative agenda in generations. To facilitate everything from confirming his cabinet nominees to raising taxes to enacting a radical climate plan, Biden will need Senate approval. Senate committees will be chaired by Democrats rather than Republicans.
Of course, it will not be easy. Strongly pro-Trump Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia will now wield extraordinary influence And be able to curb the ambitions of progressives.
And the Senate shutdown rule, which requires 60 Votes to cut off debate on most measures, allows Republicans to clog important parts of the Democratic agenda. But the budget reconciliation process will allow Biden to get around filibuster in some of his spending plans.
Everything is far preferable to what seemed like the likely alternative: Kentucky Republican Mitch McConnell as Majority Leader, ruthlessly blocking the incoming Democratic president’s legislative targets And judicial nominees. Haggling in what used to be called smoke-filled rooms would have been the order of the day.
Trump now seems destined to go down in history as the man who lost the presidency after one term And was indicted along the way, then lost the House, And, after two months of particularly savage And corrupt behavior, lost the Senate.
This undermines the narrative that the cAndidates in the negative Votes donned their presidential coat skirts And reinforces the argument that their kind of mendacious demagoguery has become a drag, And all amid a runaway coronavirus pAndemic that he downplayed. since its inception almost a year. Make.
“If they win, I won’t get credit, And if they lose, they’re going to blame Trump,” he said with characteristic self-pity at possibly his last campaign rally as president in Dalton, Georgia, on Monday night.
Loeffler And Perdue fiercely sided with the president, including his false claims of Voter fraud. His loss may be a warning to other Republicans about the limits of Trump’s appeal after he leaves office, particularly in rapidly changing parts of the country.
Georgia now looks more like Arizona, another reliably conservative state with an increasingly diverse electorate anchored around a major city, than its neighbors to the south. After backing Trump in 2016, Arizona has since sent two Democratic senators to Washington And Voted for Biden in November.
For the Democrats, their success was the assertion that a “new Georgia” was emerging in the South. In his account, the state’s political transformation began long before Trump ran for president, fueled not only by demographic change And a reverse migration of young black And white residents to Georgia, but also by decades of long-term organizing to Leave the country. Vote.
Population growth And immigration have turned the once conservative And mostly white Atlanta suburbs into diverse And democrat-friendly territory, And black Voters went to the polls in some rural areas. And smaller cities where such participation has historically lagged.
Until the 1970s, conservative Democrats dominated Georgia politics. Unlike its neighbors, the state initially resisted the rise of Republicans in the Deep South, but finally relented in the early 2000s. Georgia has been reliably Republican for the next two decades.
During that time, activists say the Democratic Party struggled to regain its position by reverting to an old playbook. The party ran cAndidates that sought to appeal to moderate white Voters while relying on black Voters, who Make up nearly a third of the state’s electorate And are heavily Democratic.
This collided with a new vision from Georgia Democrats, championed by a group of black women, who pressured the party to abAndon the fiscal And social conservatism of the past And adopt a new, more progressive And inclusive policy.
They saw a party that reflected the state: a broad coalition of black, Hispanic And Asian American Voters, politically active young progressives, And well-educated white suburban women.
For decades, activists worked to register disgruntled Voters, recently arrived immigrants, And youth. Their work was year-round, but their accomplishments were gradual And they struggled to convince donors And national leaders to take the state seriously as a battlefield.
Stacey Abrams, the former minority leader in the state House of Representatives, who founded a Voter registration group called the New Georgia Project, has become the public face of these efforts.
His near failure in the 2018 state gubernatorial race helped persuade national party leaders And campaigns that the approach could work. Two years later, Biden became the first Democratic presidential cAndidate to rule the state in nearly three decades.
At a campaign rally on the eve of the second round, Biden praised Abrams’ work: “You have changed Georgia And you are changing America.”
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism