No sooner did the Georgia Legislature enter the 2021 session than Republican lawmakers began working on legislation to address “election integrity” — which is code for “let’s look at ways to limit who gets to vote.”
Republican State Sen. Blake Tillery says he expects at least a dozen more “election” bills to be introduced after the first one was introduced last week.
I said a long time ago that, instead of trying to suppress voting to maintain their power, Republicans should focus on expanding their base by adopting policies and proposals that appeal to a broader slice of the electorate. Their failure to do so over the last four years, it seems to me, is why reliably Republican Georgia voters gave the state to Joe Biden and unseated two Republican U.S. Senators in favor of their Democratic opponents.
By their vote, a majority of Georgia voters demonstrated that Trump’s Republican Party no longer represents them.
One of the most conservative of columnists in Georgia is a man whose opinions I read regularly — Dick Yarbrough, whose columns appear in newspapers and magazine across the state.
Yarbrough’s Jan. 24 column (which can be found at www.dickyarbrough.com) echoed my sentiments on how Republicans can regain the power they lost during the four years of Donald Trump. Yarbrough decried Republican efforts to attack and vilify Georgia fellow Republicans Gov. Brian Kemp, Lt. Governor Geoff Duncan and Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger just for doing their jobs. He said those actions will create such a rift among Republicans that they will be handing the governor’s office on a silver platter to Democrat Stacey Abrams.
“I would recommend instead,” Yarbrough said, “that Republicans put the past behind them and look at broadening their base by appealing to more young people and minorities before next year’s elections in our state. Like it or not, the presidential election is over. Time to get over it. Do you spend your time and energies defending Donald Trump and his claims of election fraud or do you move on?”
Former three-term conservative Republican Georgia Congressman Bob Barr agrees, saying the GOP “must demonstrate clearly and consistently its values to voters by showing true leadership that eschews emotional reactivity and childish theatrics in favor of calm, deliberate and uncompromising focus on the values that made America great – not the slogan, but the substance.”
Yarbrough closes by saying “Georgia Republicans had better get their act together quickly and decide who is in fact the enemy. Hint: It is not state officials who did their duty as they saw it and had their decisions upheld without exception despite being bullied and harangued as well as being threatened by anonymous scumbags.”
For over a century, the Republican Party was a strong, vibrant, respectable party, an absolute necessity if a two-party democracy is to serve our country well. But that party no longer exists today. And if the party can’t find the leadership necessary to follow such sage conservative advice as that of Dick Yarbrough and Bob Barr — and the leadership qualities of former Sen. Johnny Isakson — it may never recover.