Whatever happens in the special runoff election in Georgia’s 6th congressional district, Republicans better be paying attention. Democrats are motivated; Republicans are not. If Republicans don’t follow through on what they’ve been promising, what they’ve said for years they will deliver, they not only will lose in 2018, they will deserve it.
Democrats are fired up. Sure, it’s by hate, but the motivation doesn’t matter. Anger is usually the motivation for the party out of power, though rarely does it manifest itself in gangs of spoiled college kids attacking people and smashing things.
Still, Democrats are willing to use it, to stoke that hate, because it works.
But Republicans are mad too. The problem for the GOP is Republican and Democrat voters are mad at the same thing: Republicans. Obviously they’re mad for different reasons, but the reasons don’t matter; results do.
And the Georgia special election is showing some of those results.
Sure, Democrat Jon Ossoff was denied a majority and now will compete in a run-off election June 20. But it shouldn’t have come to this. This Georgia district is red. Yes, the Republican vote was split more ways than the only bottle of vodka at a writing seminar, but there’s no way a healthy GOP would have let the spitting image of the Obamacare pajama boy in the top 10, let alone to sit atop the leader board.
But Democrats are motived. They will show up, they will pay up, and they will work. Some Republicans will show up, and in this district that might be enough. But even those who show up will do so less out of joy than duty.
Since Republicans gained control of Congress and the White House, they’ve done…very little. And that’s the problem.
They ran on big ideas. They campaigned on principles, and they were elected for those ideas and principles. What voters got for their trust was nothing. It’d be one thing if they were like a fat kid locked in a candy store – trying to cram down as much as possible before they’re discovered. But that’s not the case. Their bluff has been called, and they appear frozen with fear at the prospect of having to deliver on their promises.
It’s rare air in which Republicans find themselves – they can pass legislation and have a president in Donald Trump who will sign almost anything they put before him. They’re a tap-in putt away from winning the Masters, and they don’t know which club to use.
A political base can’t be anything but disheartened to see the world at their feet and those feet stuck in the mud.
Whatever ends up happening in the Georgia runoff election, it won’t matter in the grand scheme of things; one seat out of 435 won’t shift anything in government. It’s more of a temperature taking than a harbinger of things to come…at least right now.
But if Republicans at both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue can’t pull some victories out of their, um, “hats,” they’ll not only lose in Georgia, they’ll risk losing the House and the Senate next year.
Obamacare repeal should be easy. With reconciliation in the Senate they need only 51 votes to put something on President Trump’s desk. He’ll sign it, whatever it is, because he needs to sign something. They just have to do what they’ve said they’d do for seven years, what they actually did last year. But it’s apparently different when it’s real – so here we are.
If they fail on tax reform – not simply tax cuts but real reform of the corrupt system – they will leave 2017 with nothing to show for it but a Supreme Court justice. That’s not nothing, but Republican voters hoping for more will be less motivated to show up next year. And since very little, and especially nothing major, happens in an election year, this is pretty much it.
Can the GOP pull legislative victories and, more importantly, their heads out of their, um, “hats” before then? Well, they have until June 20 to convince voters who are among their most loyal.
Whatever ultimately happens in Georgia should be seen as the canary in the coalmine, not the end of the world or the beginning of a new one. It’s one election, after all. But that one election will tell us a lot about the mood going forward, about apathy and anger. Which one is growing or shrinking faster will be a bigger determining factor for who controls Congress after next year than who finally wins that seat ever will.