BOSTON – "Senate races are different," noted Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell last month amid the wreckage of his party's midterm hopes. "Candidate quality...is important."
Just ask the Georgia GOP.
Thanks to former President Donald Trump, who aggressively courted Herschel Walker to enter the Senate race there, their nominee was a fiasco, a woefully unprepared candidate who could barely get out his canned lines about inflation and Joe Biden. Walker's egregious history of urging abortions on his girlfriends added extra jet fuel to Raphael Warnock's emphasis on abortion rights, and his fumbling malapropisms were easy pickings for Warnock surrogates like former President Barack Obama.
"Mr. Walker has been talking about issues that are of great importance to the people of Georgia," laughed Obama at one memorable campaign stop. "Like whether it's better to be a vampire or a werewolf."
Warnock can thank Trump for weighing Walker down with 2020 election denialism and petty sloganeering that voters widely rejected last month and again last night. It was easy for Warnock to distill his message: "Georgia's better than Herschel Walker."
And so the book is closed on the 2022 midterms, which left us with divided government, wafer-thin margins in both branches of Congress, and plenty of angry partisans. The fear and loathing on display in Washington these days recalls the words of the great Irish poet William Butler Yeats amid the carnage of World War I: "Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold. Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world."
Or maybe there's a somewhat less downbeat moral to this story. The litany of defeat for those who embraced extremist rhetoric and behavior led to multiple victories for candidates with more moderate ideology and temperament. And this was the first election in more than a century where not a single incumbent U.S. Senator lost their race for re-election.
Maybe voters desire for stability should be one of this fall's big takeaways. If only party leaders and the noisemakers and agenda-setters of social media were listening.
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