Politics & Policy

What to Say in Georgia

Voters cast their ballots to vote in state and local elections at Robious Elementary School in Midlothian, a suburb of Richmond, Virginia, U.S. November 5, 2019. (Ryan M. Kelly/Reuters)
A post-presidential case for the Republican candidates

Hi. Me again.

I know — I’d hoped we wouldn’t be having this conversation, too! But here we are, in a Senate runoff race in Georgia. I’m sure you’re tired of the electioneering — I’m tired of it, too! My family is sick of it. I’m tired of the sound of my own voice, to be honest. But I think this is important, so, if you will, hear me out.

The presidential election has come and gone. That brought out a lot of passions — more heat than light, to be sure, but also record participation in the election. Some people say high turnout is bad for my party. I say: If high turnout is bad for my party, then my party has some work to do. And it does. We all know that.

Before November 3, nobody actually talked very much about what we stand for as Senate candidates. Not really. We talked about whether we were for Trump or against Trump. Georgians had some pretty strong feelings about that. But that’s not the beginning and the end of it for Georgia. You know it, and I know it. There’s more on the line than that.

I’ve talked about my agenda before, and I hope it makes sense to you. I’d like to see lower taxes and less regulation in order to help businesses, particularly small businesses and the energy sector. That’s not just something to do with the GDP numbers in the annual economic reports. The best social program is a good job with good pay and good benefits. Nothing works as well as work. Prior to the pandemic, we had the lowest unemployment rate in 50 years, with a growing economy that truly worked for everybody. Black and Hispanic workers were employed at the highest rates on record. We’ve done some useful things to offset the economic effects of the coronavirus, and there’s a lot more to do. That’s going to be a bipartisan effort, which means compromise. If we want that high-employment economy back, if we want to see those job and wage figures moving in the right direction, then we’re going to have to work something out. And I think I am better suited to doing that than my opponent is.

But the economy isn’t everything. We need criminal-justice-reform measures, from de-escalation training for police officers to better tracking of police misconduct. We need more reforms like the First Step Act, which ends mandatory minimums for first-time nonviolent drug offenses. I want to give Georgia families more choices about how to educate their children, better protections for patients with preexisting medical conditions, and a more reasonable approach to prescription-drug pricing. We need to do a better job for our veterans and active-duty military, something of particular interest here in Georgia. I think most of us, Republicans and Democrats alike, agree about that.

Campaign rhetoric can get pretty overheated, especially when there’s a presidential election. Let me leave you with this thought: I don’t think my opponent is a Marxist radical. He may talk a little crazy from time to time, but that’s politics: Talking crazy happens. I’ve probably done it myself. I don’t think he’s an America-hating traitor. What I do think is that he’s a member of a political party dominated by career politicians who have values that are not Georgia’s values and interests that are not Georgia’s interests, with leaders from California and New York who want to use the coronavirus pandemic as an excuse to bail out their own spendthrift cities and states with Georgia’s money, rather than facing the music and making hard choices and being responsible.

I think that a Democratic majority in the Senate will pull the Biden administration to the left, while a Republican majority in the Senate will pull Biden to the center, toward where most Georgians are, toward our values, toward the common-sense policies that are so desperately needed in these extraordinary times.

This isn’t the time for an ideological crusade. I expect to disagree with the Biden administration on many things, but I also look forward to working with the new president on a renewed national effort to beat this epidemic and get our economy — and life! — back on track. This is the challenge of our time. We did not choose it, but we must rise to it. And that means not wasting a lot of time on crazy stuff like trying to make the District of Columbia into a state just to create two new Democratic Senate seats or blowing up the Supreme Court.

I think we can do better on health care, but a government-run monopoly is not right for us. I think we can do better with our police, but defunding our police departments is crazy, and hamstringing good, proactive law enforcement endangers the most vulnerable communities in our state. I welcome and celebrate immigrants, but want an orderly, lawful immigration system in which everybody follows the same rules and the interests of our low-wage workers are considered. I support our public schools, but I think they need to do a better job, especially in those communities where families just don’t have the money to send their kids to private schools or move into better-performing school districts — neither of which they should ever have to do simply to get a decent education for their kids.

And I didn’t vote for Joe Biden, but I know most voters in Georgia did, as did most voters in the country. Talk of “mandates” is a media parlor game, but it would be a mistake — a tragedy — to destroy any opportunity for intelligent, bipartisan, consensus initiatives, especially in response to the ongoing national coronavirus emergency. It would be a mistake for Democrats to take this opportunity to launch a new culture war in Washington, as my opponent seems to want to do and many of his party’s leaders certainly want to do.

A one-party government in Washington riding roughshod over Georgia’s interests is the last thing we need right now. We need an effort that is truly national but at the same time respects the different interests and priorities of the different states and regions, because Georgia really is different from California or New Jersey. Washington doesn’t always seem to know that, but you and I know it. My opponent knows it, too, but I don’t think he has what it takes to stand up to Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi when they decide that Georgia taxpayers need to bail out Democratic special-interest groups in New York and San Francisco.

I’m not a vote for Chuck Schumer. I’m a vote for Georgia. I’ve already shown that. I’ll stand on my record — and you can compare it to my opponent’s record and see for yourself. If you give me your vote, I’ll keep being a voice for Georgia, for its priorities, and for its people. My agenda is not just the economy but prosperity with purpose. If there is a silver lining to the pandemic, it is that we have been reminded that we have neglected some basic things for far too long and grown complacent, but that we remain, despite our differences, one nation under God.

I thank you for your time and ask you for your support.


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