Georgia’s Gabriel Sterling Has Had Enough. But His Fellow Republicans Never Will.
For almost a month, Georgia's voting system manager, Gabriel Sterling, has watched with increasing horror as Donald Trump attacked the integrity of an election he objectively lost. Trump egged on his followers with baseless charges of coordinated, deliberate voter fraud in multiple states Joe Biden won. He did so without a shred of proof or the slightest passing concern for the reputations of people who worked hard to ensure a free and fair election during a pandemic. He's smeared Georgia's governor and secretary of state, both Republicans, because they wouldn't let him steal an election in broad daylight.
There's a real human cost when a spoiled, emotionally damaged shell of a man actively undermines democracy, burning our institutions to the ground while still in the White House like the deranged Mrs. Danvers. Fools believe his garbage, and they have threatened the lives of both Sterling and Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger. However, Sterling was moved to speak out publicly Tuesday after a 20-year-old contractor for Dominion Voting Systems and his family were threatened with a noose. The old South will not go away quietly.
STERLING: I'm going to do my best to keep it together because it all gone too far, all of it. Joe diGenova today asked for Chris Krebs, a patriot who ran CSA, to be shot. A 20-something tech in Gwinnett County today has death threats and a noose put out saying he should be hung for treason because he was transferring a report on batches from an EMS to a county computer so he could read it. It has to stop.
Mr. President, you have not condemned these actions or this language. Senators, you have not condemned this language or these actions. This has to stop. We need you to step up, and if you're going to take a position of leadership, show some. [...]
I'm talking about Sen. David Perdue and Sen. Kelly Loeffler, two people whom I still support. But they need to step up.
Senators David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler won't “step up" because they are cowards and opportunists who've willingly taken the mad king's Oath of Supremacy. They ganged up on Raffensperger and called for his resignation because he obeyed the law. They've refused to declare that there are four lights as their humanity demands, because their political careers depend on insisting there are five.
STERLING: My boss, Secretary Raffensperger, his address is out there. They have people doing caravans in front of their house. They've had people come onto their property. Tricia, his wife of 40 years, is getting sexualized threats through her cell phone. It has to stop. [...]
I don't have all the best words to do this because I'm angry. And the straw that broke the camel's back today is, again, this 20-year-old contractor for a voting-system company just trying to do his job, just there -- in fact, I talked to Dominion today, and they said he's one of the better ones they've got. His family's getting harassed now. There's a noose out there with his name on it, and it's just not right.
Sterling's remarks did shame the shameless briefly enough to issue weak-ass statements distancing themselves from the fire they've let burn and warm their personal ambitions.
Perdue said that he "condemns violence of any kind, against anybody. Period." However, he "won't apologize for addressing the obvious issues with the way our state conducts its elections." There are no “obvious issues." This is a lie. The state conducted a hand recount that confirmed Biden's victory, but Trump is still shouting at the rain, claiming fraud because he doesn't like the result.
Loeffler's statement, issued through spokesman Stephen Lawson on Twitter, was even worse:
Like many officials, as someone who has been the subject of threats, of course Senator Loeffler condemns violence of any kind. How ridiculous to even suggest otherwise.
She shared no remorse and even dismissed Sterling's concerns as “ridiculous." The man has police protection outside his house.
The Trump campaign claimed it is "focused on ensuring that all legal votes are counted and all illegal votes are not." However, President Sore Loser defines all votes against him as “illegal." He's not just in denial that he lost. He insists that he won. And although the campaign might weakly state, "No one should engage in threats or violence, and if that has happened, we condemn that fully," Trump's inflammatory rhetoric hasn't changed.
This is all nonsense. The election wasn't rigged, and Trump saying so every minute of the day constitutes “fighting words," which the Supreme Court defined in 1942 as words that "by their very utterance, inflict injury or tend to incite an immediate breach of the peace." Republicans can pretend that Trump's pursuing good-faith legal challenges, but he's actually promoting unrest and siccing his deranged cult followers on any decent person who stands in the way of his jacklegged coup.
Sterling is a Republican himself who's distraught that so many so-called “good Republicans" are turning a blind eye to all this. His remarks yesterday remind me of Joseph N. Welch, who famously confronted Senator Joseph McCarthy.
WELCH: If it were in my power to forgive you for your reckless cruelty I would do so. I like to think I am a gentleman, but your forgiveness will have to come from someone other than me. [...]
You've done enough. Have you no sense of decency, sir? At long last, have you left no sense of decency?
Despite Sterling's bold worlds, elected Republicans will remain silent today, just as they did yesterday and will tomorrow.
Individual Republicans might show glimpses of conscience and honor, but the party as a whole has decided to support and enable a wannabe despot and his thugs. To borrow from Nietzsche, what was once merely sick has now become indecent: It is indecent to be a Republican today. And here my disgust begins.
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Stephen Robinson is a writer and social kibbitzer based in Portland, Oregon. He writes reviews for the A.V. Club and make believe for Cafe Nordo, an immersive theatre space in Seattle. He's also on the board of the Portland Playhouse theatre. His son describes him as a “play typer guy."