Courier Herald column for the week of August 21st:
“The 2020 election was not stolen.” This was the beginning of a tweet from Georgia Governor Brian Kemp, in a direct rebuke of former President Donald Trump’s post-indictment screed railing about Georgia’s count of votes during the last presidential contest.
The contrast between two statements are stark and meaningful. Each says a lot about leadership and accountability.
Governor Kemp began with that single sentence referenced above, set apart from the rest of his message. It is clear, unambiguous, and unequivocal. It’s the exact opposite of so many modern political messages. We’re too often fed consultant driven sound bites manufactured to appeal to as many people possible at once. These are messages in which every potential voter can hopefully hear whatever they want to hear.
After a spacing to allow for a pause, Governor Kemp then added support in a separate paragraph:
“For nearly three years now, anyone with evidence of fraud has failed to come forward – under oath – and prove anything in a court of law. Our elections in Georgia are secure, accessible, and fair and will continue to be as long as I am governor.”
These are the facts, lost on those who still loudly and frequently claim otherwise. Their “evidence” has been reviewed at multiple levels and in front of multiple judges. What they have decided to believe to be true has not and cannot be proven. The courts are our venue to contest election irregularities. In case after case, these claims have been heard and rejected.
Does this mean there were not irregularities? No. This means that no proven claims have been made that would have in any way swayed Georgia’s count. Never mind that flipping Georgia alone would still not given former President Trump enough electoral votes to win.
Donald Trump lost. It’s time to accept that and move on, as noted by Governor Kemp’s final sentence in his tweet: “The future of our country is at stake in 2024 and that must be our focus.”
The message, overall, is clear and concise. It is what voters need to hear, both to support our democratic system of voting to choose our leaders, as well as the understanding that the past can’t and won’t be changed.
We only have the future ahead. The choices on the ballot next year will be stark, with very different paths of how to move our country forward. Elections, as they say, have consequences.
In contrast, President Trump’s message was what his loyal base love despite a basis in fact nor any follow through. There was a lot of name calling, with a promise of a press conference to reveal an “almost complete” and ‘conclusive” report that will in his “complete exoneration”. Unsurprisingly to anyone that has every greeted his grand claims with skepticism, the promised press conference was almost immediately cancelled. Perhaps Four Season’s Landscaping was already booked.
The facts of the cases or those surrounding the election don’t even seem to matter anymore. If they did, those constantly saying “give me some mean tweets and $2 gasoline” would care that we got those gas prices because Russia and Saudi Arabia colluded to flood the market with oil. Those countries openly and clearly tried to put U.S. oil producers out of business, forcing a negative price on West Texas crude at one point. Good luck convincing voters who grade a Presidency on the nastiness of a tweet that what they believe to be their favorite President’s accomplishment was actually an adversarial act by foreign interests to weaken our economy.
These voters are instead transfixed on revenge. The Republican party, nor the country, will ever get ahead if it is focused on getting even.
2024 offers the opportunity for a fresh start. It’s an opportunity that should not be missed.
So long as MAGA voters’ sole goal is to avenge 2020 while ignoring the very real weaknesses of their leader, Republicans remain doomed to repeating the pattern of never missing an opportunity to miss an opportunity.
The only path forward is to move forward. In order to do this, more Republican leaders – elected, grassroots, and every day voters all – will need to follow the lead of Governor Kemp.
It all starts by recognizing and stating, clearly and unambiguously, one single truth. The 2020 election was not stolen.