Let’s Give It Up For Senator-Elect Radical Liberal Rev. Raphael Warnock
The Beagle-loving Rev. Raphael Warnock defeated Attila the Hun wannabe Kelly Loeffler in Tuesday's Georgia Senate special election. While hardly a shocking Cinderella story, it's nevertheless a reminder that cruelty doesn't always prevail.
Republicans considered Warnock the weaker link of the two Democratic candidates, an easier target than his "running mate" Jon Ossoff. We don't need Stan Lee's imagination to understand why. They hit him with everything, seeking to paint the pastor as a radical, a Marxist, and unapologetically Black. That last one is actually true but it's something Republicans still view as a liability.
In a political world that contains Donald Trump, Loeffler managed to run the most racist campaign in recent memory, but it didn't work in the year of our Stacey Abrams, 2021. Black Georgians didn't like Jim Crow the first time, and they turned out in overwhelming numbers yesterday in support of Warnock. Now that the phony farm girl's political career has melted, we can focus instead on Warnock, the real Warnock, the kind man who took the punches and never joined his soulless opponent in the mud. He didn't stray from the path he knew was right.
Warnock's response to Loeffler's bigoted defamation campaign was poetic: "People who have no vision traffic in division." And so I repeat: Kindness won.
Senator-elect Raphael Warnock pays tribute to his mother in victory speech: "Because this is America, the 82 year… https://t.co/EhkUAbY3QR— The Recount (@The Recount) 1609912529.0
As he reminded us during his victory speech early this morning, Warnock's roots "are planted deeply in Georgia soil." He was born in Savannah, Georgia, one of the greatest cities on Earth, and while he grew up in the Kayton Homes housing projects, the eleventh of 12 children, he never buckled under the weight of poverty.
WARNOCK: ... A son of my late father who was a pastor, a veteran and a small businessman and my mother who, as a teenager growing up in Waycross, Georgia, used to pick somebody's else's cotton. But the other day, because this is America, the 82-year-old hands that used to pick somebody else's cotton went to the polls and picked her youngest son to be a United States Senator.
So, I stand before you as a man who knows that the improbable journey that led me to this place in this historic moment in America could only happen here.
We were told we couldn't win this election, but tonight we proved that, with hope, hard work and the people by our side, anything is possible.
Loeffler lacked the inspiring political skills of Martha McSally, but Warnock is impressive in his own right. He had already kicked sufficient ass for several lifetimes before becoming the first Black Democrat to win a Senate race in a former Confederate state. The Morehouse graduate is the youngest person to serve as senior pastor at Ebenezer Baptist Church, the spiritual home of Martin Luther King Jr. and Rep. John Lewis. The brother can preach, as America witnessed when he presided over Lewis' homecoming, and his first remarks as senator-elect are an appeal to this country's better nature. They aren't merely bromides, however, but a call to service and to action.
WARNOCK: In this moment in American history, Washington has a choice to make, we all have a choice to make.
Will we continue to divide, distract and dishonor one another or will we love our neighbors as we love ourselves?
Will we play political games while real people suffer or will we win righteous fights together, standing shoulder to shoulder, for the good of Georgia, for the good of our country?
Will we seek to destroy one another as enemies or heed the call towards the common good, building together what Dr. King called "the beloved community"?
Warnock said we can beat the COVID-19 pandemic with “science and common sense" and rebuild a "fairer economy by respecting the dignity of work and the workers who do it." This is a historic victory but also a life-saving one for Georgians who have suffered from leaders who believed their only duty was to Donald Trump.
“Senator Klobuchar, this is the pastor of the historic church which you’re in & an all-around great guy. And we wan… https://t.co/ybX01Bvm4y— Vaughn Hillyard (@Vaughn Hillyard) 1609908480.0
I admire Warnock because he has spoken “uncomfortable truths" for most of his life. He's denounced white supremacy from the pulpit. He's advocated against the death penalty. He's called out churches as “shamefully slow" to confront gender inequality. Yes, he even defended the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, whose supposedly controversial comments were taken out of context (not that most Americans would tolerate racial truth-telling in any context).
As a pastor in New York during the 1990s, he worked with other church leaders to protest Mayor Rudy Giuliani's harmful “workfare" program. He led a sit-in at the Georgia state Capitol in support of the Affordable Care Act's Medicaid expansion in the state. He's opposed concealed carry laws ... in Georgia.
This was not the focus-tested background of someone you'd expect to win a Senate race in Georgia. The state's last Democratic senator, Zell Miller, endorsed George W. Bush in 2004. Now Raphael Warnock has won his seat. I know John Lewis, his former parishioner, is happy.
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Stephen Robinson is a writer and social kibbitzer based in Portland, Oregon. He writes make believe for Cafe Nordo, an immersive theatre space in Seattle. Once, he wrote a novel called “Mahogany Slade,” which you should read or at least buy. He's also on the board of the Portland Playhouse theatre. His son describes him as a “play typer guy."