This week’s runoff election in Georgia solidified a trend that became evident in this year’s midterms: the American people have grown tired of the chaos emerging from Washington and long for a return to sensible governance.
The choice of Raphael Warnock over Herschel Walker—though close enough to consider his victory a “glass half-full/glass half-empty” story—completed the midterm redemption of American voters who have been bamboozled for the better part of the last decade by the deny-distract-delay tactics of Donald Trump and his minions.
Warnock is both politician and pastor and demonstrated calm and resolute leadership characteristics both during his brief tenure in the Senate and on the campaign trail. Herschel Walker, the Republican candidate, has left himself wide open to personal attack. The scandals that surrounded him, his lack of a coherent platform and his jumbled ramblings have generated deep dismay among his Republican supporters. His foes have countered with harsh critique, bordering on ridicule. Warnock, however, has refused to take the bait, maintaining a professional demeanor throughout.
And the voters have chosen.
Warnock’s intelligent, low-keyed dignity augers well for the nation as it moves into an era laced with disturbing, even alarming, issues—global tensions, the climate crisis, the gathering storm on our southern border, income inequality, police reform, homelessness, the challenge to democracy and lingering effects from the covid pandemic. We need thoughtful leaders who can develop imaginative solutions to the problems we face, the interpersonal skills to build consensus across the aisle, and the courage to stay the course when hoped-for success seems daunting. Raphael Warnock has demonstrated those qualities; Herschel Walker has not.
The voters could tell the difference.
Katie Glueck, writing in the New York Times, says this: “Mr. Warnock, who blended his image as a social justice-minded pastor with a sense of humor and an emphasis on bipartisanship, also showed how a Georgia Democrat could win in a difficult political environment, even as every other statewide candidate in his party collapsed.” And New Jersey Senator Cory Booker has called Raphael Warnock a leader who can speak to “a lot of the hurt in our country…I don’t think America has fully discovered the leadership potential of Raphael Warnock, because he got elected and then was immediately in another election season. He has the ability to do both the poetry and the prose of politics in a way that I think is rare.”
And so for a brief time, at least, we can say thank you to Georgians who have—even if by the narrowest of margins—supported someone who the rest of us can turn to with pride, confident that he will serve with compassion and creativity. We can be grateful that the electoral process has again demonstrated its corrective power. And we can look forward with hope that future candidates for public office will take a lesson from this runoff and respond sensibly and empathetically to issues that threaten to demoralize and divide us.