Are Georgia Democrats organized enough to win?

Published 11:00 am Saturday, December 26, 2020

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By Jack Bernard

Bernard is a retired corporate executive.

I have been a registered Republican for decades, but only because the GOP is better on the local level. I have always believed that the Democrats generally have better national and state policies than the GOP, especially now that the GOP has deserted its traditional role as the party of low debt and balanced budgets.

I’m not a racist, nationalist, authoritarian ReTrumpican.

I spent most of my career as a top-level strategic planner for both government and private enterprise. In my opinion, the GOP excels nationally and state-wide at strategic planning, messaging, targeting, organizing and implementation. And that concerns me.

For example, take the current runoff election in Georgia to determine who controls the Senate. I’m not sure what positive policies the Democrats are pushing in this race. I do know that they have strongly implied that Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue are guilty of insider trading using prior knowledge of the upcoming COVID-19 crisis to line their own pockets.

I’m in agreement and believe that under Biden the Department of Justice should pursue vigorous legal action. Obviously, under Attorney General Bill Barr they have gotten a free pass to do as they wish.

But what have the Democrats done to organize locally and articulate clear policy positions? Because I have not been directly involved in politics for the last six years, I don’t really know details, but I am not impressed. 

Perdue and Loffler are spreading lies and the Democrats are not effectively counteracting them on the local level. I get post cards daily from them saying they support healthcare, although Perdue and Loeffler want to do away with the Affordable Care Act (which gives more than 20 million Americans insurance) and stop protections for those with pre-existing conditions. They decry socialism, but then they say they support Medicare, a popular socialist program.

At the same time, Perdue and Loeffler say expanding Medicare is socialism, even voluntarily. They supported packing the Supreme Court with GOP justices (9 of 12), even weeks before the election, but say they are now against Democrats packing it.

They say that Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff want to “defund the police,” knowing that they are both on the record as opposing funding cuts. They say the Democrats want to ban guns, when neither Ossoff nor Warnock support such a ban.

I was once a political force in a rural county, having chaired both the Board of Commissioners and the Republican Party. People who read my columns are surprised that I was ever active in the GOP.

Why did I run as a Republican? Even though I am very progressive on some issues (especially healthcare and race), I am still fiscally conservative. Pre-Trump, so was the party, although with a $3 trillion national deficit it’s now the “cut taxes and spend wildly” party (note — the GOP ran the debt up to $1 trillion a year well before the pandemic; it’s now at $3 trillion annually).

But it was more than fiscal conservatism alone that made me run as a Republican.

When we moved back to Georgia in the late 1990s, I was younger and wanted to get involved in politics when I eventually retired. However, I found the Democrats to be completely disorganized on both the state and the local level. For example, when I visited the state Democratic headquarters, they could tell me nothing about the local party. They didn’t even know who the officers were. 

When I investigated locally, I found that the local party barely existed and was virtually all African American. It made no attempt to broaden its base locally, whereas my Commission district was 85% white. But that was many years ago.

More recently, several physicians and I met with Stacey Abrams when she was still minority leader.

She impressed me as being very pragmatic and politically sharp, although she didn’t support our position on advocating Medicare for All. 

Later on, Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp purged the voter rolls by a million voters, disproportionately affecting black voters and ensuring his victory in the Gubernatorial race over Abrams.

Since then, Stacey Abrams has been organizing the Democratic Party in Georgia. Obviously, she did a great job flipping the state blue in the Presidential race. I will be interested in seeing if she succeeds in the Senate run-offs against two very vulnerable, financially self-interested candidates, Perdue and Loeffler.