Who are the true radical extremists in the Georgia U.S. Senate race?

Georgia Republicans David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler during a recent campaign event. Credit: Ross Williams/Georgia Recorder

The Republican argument against Georgia U.S. Senate Democratic candidates Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock is that they are “radical extremists.” And if true, that would be a problem.

Our system of government is built upon compromise and moderation, and putting radical extremists in charge of such a government would be self-destructive. Georgia voters understand that danger, as they demonstrated this month by refusing to give Donald Trump and the radical extremists masquerading as Republicans another four-year term in the White House.

And everything that has happened in the three weeks since the Nov. 3 election has confirmed the wisdom of that decision.

Who but radical extremists would attempt to overturn the clear results of a presidential election? Who but radical extremists would insist that millions of valid, legitimate votes — from Georgia, Michigan, Arizona, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin — be tossed aside as if they don’t exist, as if the American citizens who cast those votes don’t exist? 

Leaders don’t do that. Patriots don’t do that.

Radical extremists do that.

Who but radicals would concoct elaborate and completely unfounded conspiracy theories to try to justify setting aside the verdict of the voters? Who but extremists would try to intimidate state and local elections officials into saying things that clearly are not true, and who would dare to demand the resignations of those relatively few Republicans willing to stand up for the Constitution, who have refused to play along in this deadly serious game? 

David Perdue would; he is a radical extremist. 

Kelly Loeffler would; she is a radical extremist.

These are not things to be said lightly. But, like you, I have placed hand over heart thousands of times to pledge allegiance to the republic of the United States of America, and this is not how a republic operates. 

This is how a republic ends, and we must remember each and every person who has been party to it.

It is radical to place the interests of one man, of one party devoted to the interests of that man, over the interests of the country at large. It is radical to undermine public faith in our electoral system, making the most outrageous claims of fraud and conspiracy without the slightest bit of evidence to support them. It is radical to sit and observe such assaults in cowardly silence, waiting to see how it turns out, because silence in such circumstances is assent.

What kind of person believes that secret messages encoded in the Internet reveal that the world is run by a ring of pedophiles and that Trump is their only hope to break it?  Who endorses such lunacy, and who seeks the endorsement of the lunatics who spread it?  

Who chooses to campaign alongside heavily armed private militias, as if this were some Third World banana republic and elections are won by those who have the most guns and are most willing to use them?

Radical extremists do. 

If they haven’t succeeded, not this time, it’s not because they didn’t try. It’s not because they didn’t want to succeed. It’s certainly not because large numbers of their fellow Republicans rose up to confront their extremism.

We have been working up to this moment in history for decades now, and the problem is that once someone has dared to try what was previously unimaginable, once the uncrossable line has been crossed in attempting to overthrow an election through brute force, others will find it easier to imagine and will know better next time where the weak points are.

Now, let’s talk about what is not radical or extreme. 

It is neither radical nor extreme to believe that Americans should not die or suffer pain because they cannot afford health care. Health care is a human right, and only radical extremists would deny that simple fact.

It is not radical extremism to listen to medical experts on how to fight the coronavirus; to the contrary, it is radical extremism to reject their scientific expertise in favor of ideology, to tout bogus cures, to decide that the best way to fight this virus is not to fight it all but to surrender to it and let it runs its course, allowing more than a quarter million of our fellow Americans to die with tens of thousands more probably doomed before vaccines can be ready.

That is extremism.

These are not — or at least should not be — controversial statements. Everything my parents taught me, everything I learned in school, and whatever small wisdom I may have gained as an adult, tell me that is radical and extreme, that it will consume us if we do not stop it.

And the first step in stopping it is to recognize it, to point it out and to remember how very far outside the norm this all is, how far outside the bounds of American history, culture, law, and common sense that it has taken us. 

It is radical. It is extreme. We must stand up to it.

Jay Bookman
Jay Bookman is a columnist at the Georgia Record, a media outlet of the States Newsroom. He covered Georgia and national politics for nearly 30 years for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, earning numerous national, regional and state journalism awards. He was awarded the National Headliner Award and the Walker Stone Award for outstanding editorial writing. He is also the author of "Caught in the Current," published by St. Martin's Press. The Florida Phoenix is part of the nonprofit States Newsroom.