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Georgia on My Mind

Which is better for America? Divided government or a repudiation of illiberalism?
December 10, 2020
Georgia on My Mind
Vintage large letter illustrated postcard ‘Greetings from Georgia’, 1930s. (Photo by Found Image Holdings/Corbis via Getty Images)

Georgia, oh Georgia
No, no, no, no, no peace I find
Just an old sweet song
Keeps Georgia on my mind.
     —Hoagy Carmichael, 1930

Ninety years after Hoagy Carmichael’s wistful lament, Georgia is very much on our minds. Certainly January 5th’s double-header Senate runoff means many of us are doomed for another month of “no, no, no, no, no peace” from the endless fundraising emails of the candidates and outside groups.

But peace will come. The elections will take place. There will be winners and losers. The question is whether the election results can contribute to a healing and healthy peace, or whether they constitute a mere marker in a race to the political bottom.

I have friends and allies, valiant Never Trumpers in 2020 and likely New Centrists in 2021, who think it important to have a Republican Senate to check the Biden administration and the House. That would mean hoping Republicans win at least one of the two Georgia Senate seats.

There’s some obvious strength to the argument for a GOP Senate as a force for balance.

On the other hand, I’m doubtful that a 50-50 Democratic Senate, alongside a narrow Democratic House majority and a Democratic president who is neither Bernie Sanders nor Elizabeth Warren, would confirm that many more left-wingers or pass appreciably more radical legislation than the same configuration, but with a 52-48 Republican Senate.

In fact I’m inclined to the opposite argument: that there would be more centrist compromises, that the logjams would break in a more productive way, with a 50-50 Senate than with a Senate where Mitch McConnell is the majority leader.

We really don’t know.

What we do know is that Georgia’s Republican Senators, Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue, are all in on Donald Trump’s reckless and dangerous attempt to nullify the 2020 presidential election and to delegitimize the Biden presidency. And I’m confident that this fact is far more consequential and much more dangerous than whatever the difference in legislative outcomes would be between a 52-48 and a 50-50 Senate.

If it’s important for the country that the damage from Trump’s attempt at delegitimizing the presidential election be minimized, then surely it’s important his enablers pay a price for supporting such a threat to the health of our liberal democracy. If the citizens of Georgia turn a blind eye to this, the lesson would be there are no consequences for such an effort. That is not a lesson we should want to teach our politicians.

We’ll see if the citizens of Georgia agree.

William Kristol

William Kristol is editor-at-large of The Bulwark.