Wins in Georgia Senate cement centrist Democrat makeover of U.S. politics
Democrats seem poised to sweep the two Georgia Senate runoffs, giving the party control of both houses of Congress ahead of the inauguration of President-elect Joe Biden, and also elevating West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin, the most conservative member of the Senate Democratic caucus.
Which is to say, don’t expect the next two years, at the least, to be anything resembling transformational.
First, to where things stand now.
Down in Georgia, Raphael Warnock, the pastor at the historic Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta, has a 54,000-vote, 1.2-point lead on Kelly Loeffler in one Senate runoff. Journalist Jon Ossoff has a 17,000-vote, 0.4-point lead on David Perdue in the other race that the analysts are, for now, treating as too close to call.
Wins by Warnock and Ossoff would bring representation in the Senate to a 50-50 tie. Kamala Harris, the vice president-elect, then, would be able to cast tie-breaking votes, giving Democrats control of the chamber for organizational purposes – electing committee chairs and the rest.
Ostensibly, the sitting minority leader, New York Sen. Chuck Schumer, would step up to the role of majority leader, but you could expect that Manchin would assume an elevated role, formal or not, given his track record of not being afraid to side with Republicans on key issues of the day.
To wit there: backing Trump proposals to withhold federal money from sanctuary cities.
Manchin has already made clear that he opposes progressive-backed Medicare for All and the Green New Deal, and that he will not support initiatives backed by party leaders to end the Senate filibuster and to expand the number of Supreme Court justices.
So, there’s your wet blanket, progressives, but then, Biden isn’t a Medicare for All or Green New Deal guy, either – and he sidestepped questions on court-packing in the presidential-debate season.
Biden, remember, was plucked from the Senate to be Barack Obama’s running mate in 2008 to give Obama cover from the center.
And then back this time a year ago, when it began to appear that Democratic Socialist Bernie Sanders was poised to steamroll the field toward the presidential nomination, Biden was the safe, middle of the road guy viewed as best positioned to be able to peel off enough independents and moderate Republicans to defeat Trump.
That turned out to be a good read; Biden outpolled Trump by more than 7 million votes, four and a half points, a clear, convincing win, and though Democrats lost some of their cushion in the House, they maintained that majority, and now appear on the verge of gaining the razor-thinnest of razor-thin edges in the Senate.
Trump is out, his tyranny-by-tweet reign in its final hours.
Centrist Democrats are in charge now.
The party is the party of two seventy-something white guys.
You were exasperated by Trump. You’ll be frustrated with Biden and Manchin.
Story by Chris Graham