It ain’t over yet; health care hangs in the balance of the Georgia Senate runoff

Joe Biden

Gage Skidmore / Flickr

Everyone craves the fresh air of our national sigh of relief, but the election ain’t over. Two Georgia Senate seats are up for grabs, and we need Democratic victories in both to back Joe Biden’s play on health care. The Biden/ Harris team has big plans, but for them to succeed, we have to deliver a Senate they can work with.

With 48 Democratic seats already locked down in the Senate, Democratic wins in both Georgia Senate runoffs would bring the number of Democratic senators to fifty. Staying at least equal in power to the GOP is crucial; Kamala Harris will have the deciding vote in any Senate tie, but if there are not enough Democratic senators to get to a tie, that power will be meaningless. If Democrats stay stuck in the minority, Mitch McConnell will use the Senate to make sure Biden will fail.

We voted Joe Biden and Kamala Harris into office — now let’s finish the job. On to Georgia!

You can help in the Georgia Senate runoff— even if you don’t live there

A Welcome to Georgia sign


The Georgia senate runoff will decide where power lies in America.

The Georgia election for both Senate seats will be decided in a runoff on January 5. Georgia will have Mail-in (or “Absentee”) ballots, and early voting! This will make it easier and safer for people to vote in the runoff. But runoffs are notoriously difficult to win because of poor voter turnout.

To make it more challenging, a conservative super PAC has just pledged $4 million to keep the Georgia Senate Republicans in office. So these two Democrats need all the help they can get. And Joe Biden needs them in the Senate to protect health care.

Georgians will do the voting, but we can all help decide the fate of the nation.

  1. Support a voter protection group like Stacey Abrams’s Fair Fight or download a voter support community app like Blue Squad (iOS or Android). Georgia is notorious for voter suppression, and you can be part of the solution even if you are not in Georgia.
  2. Get involved with the campaigns to elect Jon Ossoff or Dr. Raphael Warnock. Support with your wallet or by volunteering.
  3. Reach out to friends. Reaching out to friends is 300% more effective than any other form of voter contact! People trust their families, friends, and social networks. Modern technology means we are all a click away from our friends in Georgia. If you have friends in Georgia, remind them to vote, every day until January 5. Ask them to spread the word about the issues and the election dates.

If the Senate remains Republican and Mitch McConnell stays in charge, Joe Biden’s healthcare efforts will be blocked in every way they can. With just two months to go, traditional voter outreach will not be enough.

What’s up with this Georgia Senate runoff anyway?

Georgia voters sharing "I voted" stickers on social media

Screenshot / YouTube

Both of these runoffs have been forced by a Georgia election law that requires a winning candidate to receive over fifty percent of the vote. The law was passed in the 1960s to keep an advantage for white candidates, by keeping Black candidates from winning even if they got the most votes, provided that was less than half.

In fact, one of the runoffs exactly mimics this racist scheme; the Rev. Dr. Raphael Warnock, a Democrat who is African American, won the most votes. But with so many candidates in the field, Dr. Warnock was not able to pass fifty percent. This happened in both Georgia Senate races, and both will now enter a runoff in January.

The Georgia election is a chance for the state to break its own barriers: to elect two Democrats in runoffs forced by an antiquated Jim Crow rule and to continue the blue shift that delivered the state for Joe Biden and Kamala Harris.

The Georgia Senate candidates: Democrat, the Rev. Dr. Warnock vs. short-termer Republican Loeffler

Georgia Senate candidate, the Rev. Dr Raphael Warnock gets ready for the Georgia election runoff.

The Reverend Dr. Raphael Warnock may be best known as the pastor of Ebenezer Baptist Church, the congregation that was once led by Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Dr. Warnock has fought to protect and expand Medicare, and against funding cuts for children’s health care. He was even arrested during peaceful activism for his efforts. Dr. Warnock puts his money where his mouth is, rejecting corporate PAC campaign funding so that he will never be beholden to insurance or pharmaceutical companies.

Dr. Warnock wants to see health care experts leading the charge to get COVID under control. And if he wins the Georgia Senate runoff, he will support legislation that protects pre-existing conditions, comprehensive access to reproductive and mental health services, and lower prescription costs. Dr. Warnock wants to expand health care for Americans, not destroy it.

Dr. Warnock’s opponent in the Georgia election runoff is Republican Kelly Loeffler, who has backed the lawsuit designed to strike down the ACA, supporting Trump’s attack on Obamacare “100%.”

Appointed last year to replace a retiring Georgia senator, Loeffler has drunk deep of the Trump Kool-Aid during her short term as a senator. Highlights of her career so far include dumping millions in stock when Congress received notifications about the coronavirus crisis, referring to the Black Lives Matter movement as “Marxist,” and backing a QAnon conspiracy theorist who makes offensive remarks about Black people, Jews, and Muslims.

Now that she will have to defend her seat in the Georgia election runoff, Loeffler is making the most of Trump’s time left in office. Like by using what looks like a badly photoshopped pic to tweet mixed messages about a fair vote count and prayers for Donald Trump’s re-election.

The Georgia Senate candidates: Democrat Ossoff vs. one-term incumbent Republican Perdue

Georgia Senate challenger Jon Ossoff of Georgia sits with Congressman John Lewis.

The Democratic challenger, Jon Ossoff, trailed incumbent Republican David Perdue by a mere two percent. Ossoff has experience at the national level as a national security staffer in the House of Representatives.

Health care tops Jon Ossoff’s list of priorities. He sees this pandemic as a wake-up call for those who would take away Americans’ health insurance.

The link between health and wealth must be broken. — Jon Ossoff

The incumbent Republican Perdue gives lip service to health care for Americans but repeatedly voted to repeal the ACA. He also co-sponsored one of the failed Republican “replacement” plans for Obamacare, one which did not offer equal protections for pre-existing conditions.

Perdue’s votes in favor of public health total out at precisely zero. Zip. Zilch. Nada. Niente. Bupkis.

Perdue has not faired well in the Georgia Senate campaign spotlight. As early as July, his campaign was criticized for enlarging Ossoff’s nose in Facebook advertisements to make sure any anti-semitic votes know that Perdue’s opponent is Jewish.

Then his ass whooping in the debate went viral as the Democratic challenger Jon Ossoff called Perdue a “crook,” with the facts to back it up. Ossoff has challenged Perdue to more debates before the Georgia Senate runoff. It’s tough to know if he’ll go for another helping of this…

Perdue can’t seem to win even when he’s alone on stage. After mocking the name of US Vice President-Elect Kamala Harris to whip up his crowd, Perdue tried to claim he just mispronounced it. Over and over. After working in the senate with Ms. Harris for four years. Which leaves his voters to choose whether they support a bigot or an idiot.

Health care is STILL under siege by Republicans

Donald Trump shakes hands with Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell before Trump's impeachment trial .

The White House

A majority of Americans favor the Affordable Health Care Act (ACA, or Obamacare). But Republicans have proven they are more interested in their own power than what Americans need. The GOP tried to repeal the ACA in Congress and couldn’t get any traction. Now they are trying to get the Supreme Court to strike it down.

While only 36% of Americans want the ACA struck down, the Conservative Supreme Court has the power to rule it away in spite of the democratic will of Americans. What McConnell couldn’t get done in the Senate, he may accomplish with his Supreme Court justices.

One of the biggest issues the Biden/Harris ticket ran on was strengthening the ACA, not destroying it during a pandemic. Biden and the Democrats in the House will deliver. But if Mitch McConnell is still at the helm in the Senate, he will make sure everything Democrat’s try hangs dead in the water.

We need the Senate to move forward

A line of elephants block the road.

Three-shots / Pixabay

Presidents do not make laws. Congress — the House of Representatives and the Senate — must pass any bill to be signed into law by the president.

While Trump stretched the boundaries of what can be achieved by executive order, his failures on that front show the limitations of trying to govern a democracy as if you are a king. Biden knows how the US government works, and he can make some effective executive orders. But he also knows there is more to making lasting change than tweeting a picture of your Sharpie signature.

And We The People know that now too, don’t we?

McConnell’s misuse of the Senate

Trump and McConnell at a function

White House/ Shealah Craighead

Joe Biden has already called for a return to unity and civility. “Let this grim era of demonization in America begin to end here and now,” Biden said in his first speech as President-Elect, but Republican senators’ track record call that possibility into question.

Republicans won a Senate majority during Barrack Obama’s administration. From the moment Mitch McConnell took power as Senate Majority Leader, he has worked with laser focus toward two ends: to remake the courts in favor of conservative rulings, and to thwart the efforts of Democrats. And like his now-defeated Orange Master, McConnell has found it easy to lead his quiescent Republican senate colleagues in his quest.

The Senate and the courts

Side by side photos of Barrett and McConnell


Harsh challenges to Biden’s health care plans are already built into the system our new administration will inherit.

Mitch McConnell used his power to the extreme, forcing the Senate to spend most of the Trump administration confirming conservative judges. By blocking Obama’s Supreme Court justice nominee, Merrick Garland, he created an open seat for a Trump appointee. Although he blew a lot of smoke at the time, McConnell might have said he was blocking Garland’s nomination, “Because, reason.” He disregarded all of his prior claims in order to speed Trump’s THIRD Justice, Amy “Coathanger” Barrett, through the Senate so this arch-conservative could plop down in Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s still warm seat.

By appointing young conservatives to lifetime appointments on the federal bench, McConnell has moved the entire federal court system to the Right, thus entrenching conservative rule despite the fact that they represent a minority of Americans. Conservatives will now be able to use the court to strike down laws by issuing legal challenges which will be argued in these Conservative arenas.

The Senate can stop legislative traffic

A big red traffic light.

Sepideh Golchin Rad / Unsplash

The Senate’s ability to paralyze Congress is as powerful as its ability to act. The Democratic majority House of Representatives has passed hundreds of bills that McConnell refuses to bring to the Senate floor for discussion. This includes the Heroes Act, an aid package that could help Americans who are struggling during the coronavirus pandemic, but which McConnell has left to gather dust.

It is improbable that Mitch McConnell would suddenly take up House Democrats’ legislation unless the Georgia Senate runoff pushes him out of the driver’s seat.

Show me the money

A jar of change spilling out on a white counter

Unsplash/Michael Longmire

Congress also holds the “power of the purse.” Without at least half of the seats in the Senate, Democrats will take a back seat role in the determination of the nation’s budget.

“A Democratic majority in the U.S. Senate would be the biggest difference maker to help President-elect Biden deliver for working families across the country and in Georgia,” said Senate Minority Leader, Democrat Chuck Schumer. “For too long, they have been denied the help they need by President Trump, Mitch McConnell and a Republican-led Senate.”

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