Time for a few words on Herschel Walker, the once-great football player now turned Republican Senate candidate. He’s running to unseat US Senator Raphael Warnock of Georgia. As far as I can tell, he doesn’t know much about politics. He doesn’t seem to care. He appears willing to do what he’s told, including opposing abortion.
Turns out, old Herschel’s been sticking his pigskin in the mash potatoes since his glory days as a University of Georgia running back. Evidently, he’s fathered more than few children by more than few women without having much participated in their rearing. According to big scoops by The Daily Beast, Dear Deadbeat Dad paid for an abortion by one woman who’d later give birth to another child.
Before we move on to the cynicism of the decision by the Georgia Republicans to close ranks around Walker, despite his and the party’s stated commitment to protecting “the sanctity of life,” note this: his campaign is cynicism, distilled. The idea has been from the start that a famous Black man can peel Black votes from a Black incumbent. At the center is a profound contempt for Black people, as if they don’t know, or can’t figure out, that Walker is a Republican meat puppet.
Given the rule of like going with like, perhaps it’s only natural for the cynicism of Walker’s campaign to be distilled not once, but twice. The Georgia GOP as well as the national party are undaunted, even though, from a “pro-life” viewpoint, Walker is a criminal who has aided and abetted the serial murder of innocents. The Republicans don’t believe that that’s applicable to Republicans, however, when Republicans seek the power to pass laws applicable to them.
“This election is about the future of the country,” Steven Law, the head of Mitch McConnell’s Senate Leadership Fund, “Herschel Walker will make things better, Raphael Warnock is making it worse.
“Anything else is a distraction.”
Correct. Things like “life begins at conception,” “the sanctity of life,” “fetal heartbeat,” “personhood” and “abortion is genocide” – these genuinely held beliefs (so-called) distract from the real objective: Defeating the enemy.
This is rank hypocrisy, by definition, but Democrats (and liberals) have a bad habit of leaving it at that. If this were mere hypocrisy, we could expect GOP voters who truly espouse a “pro-life” worldview to yak out their guts in disgust. (After all, their party is standing with a man who, from their viewpoint, aided and abetted serial murder.)
Their tummies are fine, though.
While the press and pundit corps wonder whether Walker can overcome a scandal that reveals that he’s not “pro-life,” the reality is the reverse. The scandal tells them that he’s just like them, to wit: standing for a political, legal and moral order that protects us but punishes them. There may be no better way to show group loyalty than by attacking abortion while brushing off one’s history with it.
While the press and pundit corps wonder whether voters will trust Walker post-scandal, again, the reality is the reverse. Republican voters, especially the white evangelical Protestant who constitute the GOP’s base, will trust Walker not in spite of the scandal but because of it. The scandal tells them what they needed to know. If there were doubts about voting for a Black Republican candidate on account of being a Black Republican candidate, all doubts are gone.
As I said, Democrats (and liberals) have a bad habit of calling out GOP hypocrisy and leaving it at that. What they, and all of us, should do is remember sectional differences in way people perceive politics. In the southern states, politics is not a means of solving our collective problems, because their collective problem is marginalized people using the tools of democracy to solve their collective problems.
Using the tools of democracy to solve collective problems is an act of war to most white southerners, which is why politics is widely perceived among them to be war by other means. What does a sincerely held belief in “the sanctity of life” have to do with war, except as a pretense for gaining an advantage against the enemy?
So as much as I would like to agree with Michael Steele, the former RNC chairman, I just can’t. I can’t, as he did, believe “this whole family values ruse of the GOP is busted.” On Morning Joe, Steele went on to say that the “Democrats didn't expose it. They didn't expose the family values lie, right? Republicans exposed their own lie.”
Alas, it’s the reverse.
Walker finds himself in the enviable position of being compared to Donald Trump who famously said that he could shoot someone on Fifth Avenue and not lose a single voter. Murder in and of itself isn’t really all that bad to his most loyal followers. What matters is who’s getting murdered. More important, who’s doing the shooting?
The Walker scandal gives the answer.