A visitor to downtown Valdosta, Georgia, is greeted by a billboard message that says: “God Bless President Trump.”
It may be someone’s idea of a joke, but the other side of the same billboard, paid for by local Democrats, says: “Unfit and unhinged. Vote him out!”
The people of Georgia did just that. Thankfully, they voted Donald Trump out, and state elections officials have certified Democrat Joe Biden as the winner for a third time. It was extremely close, but Biden beat Trump by 12,760 votes, or 0.25% of about 5 million votes cast. Georgia’s 16 electoral votes will be awarded to Biden.
But you would never know that to listen to Trump in Valdosta last weekend. Georgia could certify the results 3,000 times, and it won’t stop Trump’s false, dangerous attacks on democracy.
At his rally at the city’s airport last Saturday, our unhinged president started his speech by saying: “You know we won Georgia — just so you understand.”
A large crowd roared its approval and chanted, “Four more years.” On it went for nearly two hours as Trump nursed his grievances, part of an effort to keep himself politically viable for 2024.
The nation’s carnival barker tore at the fabric of our freedoms and recklessly ranted on about how the election was rigged and stolen by Democrats. Sounding like a latter-day Joe McCarthy, he called Democrats “communists” who will seize farms of Georgians and confiscate their guns, destroy the U.S. military and legalize late-term abortions.
It was billed as a “victory rally” by a president headed out the door, with a muted get-out-to-vote message for Republican U.S. Sens. Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue. Control of the Senate and the fate of Biden’s agenda hangs in the balance. If Loeffler and Perdue win their runoff elections on Jan. 5, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell will stay in power and Trump will claim credit for it.
Some wondered why Trump’s first road trip as a lame-duck president brought him to Valdosta of all places. The answer: South Georgia is hard-core Trump territory, and Republicans will need every vote in the region to neutralize Democratic strength in Atlanta and its suburbs.
One problem with Valdosta as a rally site is its proximity to Florida. Any pro-Trump crowd almost certainly includes a lot of Floridians, who can’t vote in a Georgia Senate race. But it’s not for lack of trying: A Florida lawyer, Bill Price of Panama City, is under investigation for urging Floridians to temporarily register to vote from a sham address in Georgia so they can vote for Loeffler and Perdue.
The story was broken by WSB-TV, Atlanta’s NBC affiliate, which copied a now-deleted Facebook Live video in which Price said he would re-register at his brother’s Hiram, Georgia, address, and encouraged others to do the same. That could be fraud, and Georgia officials confirmed they’re investigating.
Florida’s 67 county election officials ran a smooth election under enormously stressful conditions as a result of COVID-19. Trump’s claims of rampant fraud, repeatedly dismissed in U.S. courts, undermine public faith in democracy.
Two election supervisors, Pasco County’s Brian Corley and Leon County’s Mark Earley, have spoken out in recent days, both disgusted by how Trump’s continued unfounded claims of fraud have encouraged death threats against election officials.
“After delivering the most secure, transparent election in history with record turnout and during a pandemic, dedicated public servants deserve recognition, respect and thanks — not vilification,” said Corley, who has repeatedly been re-elected in strongly pro-Trump Pasco, near Tampa.
Earley’s statement said: “In my 30 years of experience as an election administrator, I have never seen such divisive and destructive rhetoric directed at my colleagues in this line of service. … Election staff and poll workers were charged with conducting an election while risking their health and safety to ensure their neighbors and family members had every opportunity to cast a ballot. They are the true patriots.”
“To baselessly attack the legitimacy of our elections is to attack America itself,” Earley said. He’s absolutely right about that.
Sometimes a billboard is true. Trump is unfit and unhinged. For the sake of our great nation, enough people in Georgia figured it out.