Georgia Runoff Results: Meh

The Morning Call looks at the latest disastrous election results for the party for known as the GOP

We are late this morning, obviously, because we wanted to wait until the results of the runoff elections in Georgia were more or less final.  We needn’t have waited.  We had the sense, going into the day, that the news would be pretty terrible for the GOP.  Some in the press and in the Republican Party are blaming Donald Trump exclusively for the losses, which makes a certain amount of sense, given that his lawyers have been canvassing the state for two months, telling voters that the system is rigged and that they shouldn’t trust Republican state officials.  Others, naturally, are blaming those in the party who opposed Trump and who worked hard to see him fail, which also makes sense.  After all, losing control of everything in Washington is the ultimate failure.  And now they’ve ensured that Trump will have accomplished precisely that – party be damned.

In truth, however, neither group is to blame.  And yet both are.  It’s hard to imagine why anyone, anywhere would cast a vote for the candidates of a party that is effectively dead, which is what the GOP is, at least at the national level.  The collapse of the party was inevitable, we suppose, but the hatred and disdain between the current factions accelerated its fall and, in so doing, delivered all the levers of power in Washington to Joe Biden and the Democrats.

As for us, we tend to think that yesterday’s election will have some short-term effects on policy choices in Washington – greater spending (if that’s imaginable!) and different basic priorities.  It also means that Biden will have an easier time getting judges confirmed, which signals the undoing of Trump’s most significant domestic legacy.  As for the more serious and far-reaching items on the Democratic wish-list – e.g. ending the filibuster, statehood for DC and Puerto Rico, and reforming or eliminating the Electoral College – those will likely have to wait, given that West Virginia’s Democratic Senator Joe Manchin is unlikely to commit political suicide any time soon.

In the grand scheme of things, we’re not sure that any of it really matters much.  We’re opposed to the massive structural reforms the Democrats have in mind and think that they would be disastrous.  But, at the same time, we think most of the damage that could be done to our constitutional order has already been done and cannot possibly be undone.  As we’ve said before in these pages and elsewhere, we love the Framers’ Constitution (plus the Bill of Rights and the Reconstruction Amendments).  But that document does not govern this nation any longer.  The Progressive Amendments and the various policy “innovations” of the Progressive Era (not the least of which was the creation of the Federal Reserve) have ALREADY rendered the Founders’ vision inoperable and have completely altered the nature of the relationship between the American people and the American government.

The standard retort to those who wish to eliminate the Electoral College, for example, is that doing so would completely destroy the power of the states and the rights guaranteed to those states and their residents by the Tenth Amendment (“The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.”).

We get that.  We’ve made that argument ourselves.  It makes perfect, logical sense.  The only catch is that the states and their residents don’t have any power or rights as it is.  If yesterday’s election fiasco proves anything, it is that the Seventeenth Amendment (providing for the direct election of Senators) already effectively ended the constitutional protections the states once enjoyed.  Senate seats are now NATIONAL offices, and Tip O’Neill’s famous aphorism that “all politics is local” is as outdated as the idea that the son of an Irish bricklayer can grow up to be the Speaker of the House.  You wanna save the Electoral College?  Sure, why not.  We’ll help.  But don’t expect that doing so will have much impact on the direction of the nation.

The Framers, you see, envisioned a “federal” republic, not a “national” government, and to this end, they actively and purposefully sought to balance the powers of the states against those of the federal government.  The House of Representatives was designed to represent national interests.  The office of the President was created to reflect a combination of state and national interests.  And the Senate was dedicated specifically to the will and the rights of the states, which is why state legislatures were empowered to elect Senators.  Or, as Madison put it in Federalist #39: “The Senate…will derive its powers from the States, as political and coequal societies; and these will be represented on the principle of equality in the Senate, as they now are in the existing Congress.”

Temple University’s Center for the Study of Federalism contends not only that the Seventeenth Amendment wiped out even the possibility of a federalist system, but that the states and the people ratified the Amendment hastily and with very little consideration for what they were doing or what it would mean for the future of the country:

By altering how the Senate was elected, the Seventeenth Amendment also altered the principal mechanism employed by the framers to protect federalism….The consequences of the ratification of the Seventeenth Amendment on federalism, however, went completely unexplored, and the people, in their desire to make the Constitution more democratic, inattentively abandoned what the framers regarded as the crucial constitutional means for protecting federalism.

Yesterday, two candidates whose interests align entirely with the national Democratic Party were elected to the Senate.  They will go to Washington and they will be good soldiers.  For the Democrats.  As for Georgians…well…we’re not so sure.  We have serious doubts about whether the trust-fund socialist who has never had any real interest in working for a living and the anti-Semite who ran over his wife are typical Georgians who will do much to advance the interests of typical Georgians.  We suspect, rather, that like many Democrats across the country, Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock know exactly where their bread is buttered.  And it is NOT buttered in Georgia, as Roll Call noted on Monday:

Donors are shoveling money into the Georgia Senate races as the chamber’s majority hangs in the balance.

The runoff campaigns, pitting Democrats Jon Ossoff and Rafael Warnock against Republican Sens. David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler, already rank among the most expensive Senate races in history.

New election filings show that by the middle of December, the four candidates raised almost $447 million combined for the full election cycle. Back in October, South Carolina Democrat Jaime Harrison disclosed raising a record-shattering $58 million over a three-month period ending Sept. 30 for his ultimately unsuccessful Senate campaign.

Warnock and Ossoff each buried that record, raising $103.4 million and $106.8 million, respectively — during a two-month period ending Dec. 16. And money kept coming in after that, and will likely continue to do so up until voting in Georgia ends Tuesday….

All candidates raised money from donors across the country, but large-dollar donations from people outside Georgia flowed especially to Democrats. There’s no way to know if the same pattern played out with donors giving smaller amounts, since their names and addresses aren’t disclosed.

Warnock’s latest filing shows $11.7 million came in from California donors alone between Oct. 15 and Dec. 16, and $4.7 million were from New Yorkers. Georgians gave his campaign $2.6 million.

Ossoff reported $13.1 million in contributions from Californians, $5.2 million from New Yorkers and a combined  $5.7 million from Massachusetts and Washington state residents. Georgians gave his campaign $2.3 million….

“How I Met Your Mother” star Josh Radnor, as well as actors Patricia Arquette and Joaquin Phoenix, donated to both Democratic challengers as they headed to the runoffs.

Leonardo DiCaprio, known for roles in films such as “Titanic” and “Django Unchained,” donated $3,217 to both Ossoff and Warnock for their runoff efforts.  

Dan Castellaneta, the voice of the iconic “Simpsons” character Homer Simpson, has donated tens of thousands of dollars to Democratic candidates in the last two years, including $6,967 to Warnock and $9,767 to Ossoff.

So…today, the United States wakes up to the reality that Pat Leahy will be the Appropriations Committee Chairman, Dick Durbin will run Judiciary, and Bernie Sanders will do whatever damage he can in the Budget Committee.  Because that’s the way Homer Simson and the guy from Gilbert Grape want it and because Ossoff and Warnock will see that it happens.

Good job, everybody.  Good job, President Trump.  Good job, NeverTrump Republicans.  But especially, good job, those of you who ratified the Seventeenth Amendment.

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