National Commentary

Georgia Election’s Pyrrhic ‘Victory’

Perhaps an unintended consequence of the GOP’s hard-fought victory in the special election in Georgia Tuesday is better grasped by the old Disney “Song of the South” movie of the Br’er Rabbit and the briar patch.

“Oh, please, whatever you do, please don’t throw me into that briar patch,” Br’er Rabbit entreats Br’er Bear. Therefore the bear, thinking he was doing the worst by the rabbit, throws him into the thorny briar patch. But, lo, it was a clever trick by the rabbit, who is quite at home in such environments, and also safe from further trouble coming from a bear who dares not enter there.

“Oh please, please don’t win that election,” one might hear in an echo of a clever plot. “Don’t, please don’t let Trump win this one!”
What that whole exercise achieved was a sealing of the fate of the GOP going into the much more important mid-term elections next year. The whole party is now locked into backing Trump, into touting him as its standard bearer, and stooping to whatever further excesses by which this unseemly man might, and is likely to, tax the national appetite for civility and good government.

I doubt this intent was in the mind of Democrats going into that expensive special election. Indeed, their game plan seemed to ignore the $24 million poured into their campaign effort from places like Hollywood and Manhattan and how that might play in a rural, deeply Republican Georgia congressional district. All that money, in fact, undercut the insurgent message of their candidate in such an overwhelmingly Red district, but while not intentional, it did help drive the “B’rer Rabbit” scenario.

So the midterm elections of 2018 will necessarily be far more egalitarian in terms of where the big out-of-district money flows, and in Virginia, a precursor to next year will come this November with every state delegate seat and a third of the state senate ones up for grabs, not to mention statewide races for governor, lieutenant governor and attorney general.

An early signal came last week in the primaries for that election, when the overall voter turnout, though low across the board, was nonetheless reflected far more enthusiasm, as in more ballots cast, among Democrats than their Republican rivals.

The “Trump effect” will be far more impactful by November, and moreso next year, as the latest “undo Obamacare” fiasco in Congress begins to turn away Trump voters from health centers in droves, stricken as they are by an opioid addiction epidemic of epochal proportions, something I would wish on no one.

Br’er Michael Gerson of The Washington Post unleashed one of the best, two-paragraph diatribes against all that Trump represents in his column, “Republicans’ End Game,” this week. It’s worth reciting in full and breathtaking to read aloud, but the best line is inserted among a laundry list of many policy and personal failings: “He (Trump) is dead to the poetry of language and to the nobility of the political enterprise, viewing politics as conquest rather than as service.”

But while Gerson offers no sound approach to ridding the nation of Trump, speaking from his standpoint as a conservative Republican, the seed of the answer is contained in his phrase, “viewing politics as conquest rather than service.”

It’s not enough to indict, in the court of public opinion or elsewhere, Trump as a common crook, a two-bit thug aligned with the Russian Mafia, an arm of Russian intelligence and intrusion into the U.S. since the 1970s, and seriously dangerous mobsters like Semion Mogilevich. Mogilevich, who has lived amid numerous of his condos in Trump properties, is a murderous money-launderer who ordered a hit on the late Village Voice journalist, Robert L. Friedman, whose articles and book, Red Mafiya, fingered Mogilevich with detail in a chapter entitled, “The World’s Most Dangerous Gangster.”

No, the deeper pathway to recovering our nation from Trump is well summed up in Sen. Tim Kaine’s simple mantra, “You can’t be great if you are not good.”

Want to “make America great again?” We must make America good again with a generosity of spirit, of inclusion and a love and empathy toward our fellow brothers and sisters.


Nicholas Benton may be emailed at