Gabriel Sterling, Georgia's voting system implementation manager, has held several press conferences in which he has used dry facts and figures to debunk claims that the Georgia election in November was rigged against President Trump. Those press conferences did not show up on the national radar until the one Sterling held last week. During that press conference, Sterling noted that there had been physical threats to his boss, Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, his wife, and election workers. He then made an impassioned plea for President Trump to "stop inspiring people to commit potential acts of violence...Someone's going to get hurt, someone's going to get shot, someone's going to get killed. It's not right."
Sterling's speech brought him his 15 minutes of fame. He is being interviewed on scores of political shows with hosts praising him as a sort of hero for speaking out. A closer look though suggests that Sterling, far from being a hero, has enabled the very behavior of which he now complains.
When he first ran for office, Donald Trump encouraged his supporters to commit violent acts against protesters who showed up during his rallies. As President, Trump undermined democratic institutions and ignored constitutional limits on his authority. During the pandemic, Trump encouraged people to physically take back their state...and many residents showed up armed to do just that. Going into the 2020 election, Trump repeatedly told his supporters that the only way he could lose the election was if it was rigged against him. (During the 2016 campaign, he said the same thing.) He encouraged his supporters - including white supremacist groups like the "Proud Boys" - to be ready for violence at the polls and, afterward, should he lose.
In early October, Vox published a length article documenting all the times that Trump has encouraged hate groups and violence on his behalf.
That Trump would make phony election fraud claims and encourage his supporters to be violent is not exactly a surprise. Donald Trump has been telegraphing that from Day 1.
But let's say that in 2016, a Republican voter did not yet believe there was sufficient evidence about Trump's proclivities. By 2020, there was simply no disputing who Donald Trump is. And yet, Gabriel Sterling admitted to reporters that he voted for Trump in 2020. Why? Sterling said it was because he is a Republican and so too is Trump. The President was wearing the right jersey!
Meanwhile, Georgia Senators Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue have enthusiastically supported Trump's claim that Georgia's election machinery was rigged against him by Governor Brian Kemp and Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, both Republicans. Loeffler and Perdue even went so far as to demand that Raffensperger, who again is Sterling's boss, resign.
No one knows better than Sterling that Loeffler and Perdue's claim of voter fraud is bogus. No one knows better than Sterling that their criticism of Kemp and their demand Raffensperger resign is nothing more than the senators pandering to Donald Trump. Yet, Sterling says that he's going to vote for Loeffler and Perdue because...wait for it...they're wearing Republican jerseys!
Far from being a hero, people like Gabriel Sterling are the problem with my Republican Party. By their blind support of all Republicans, no matter what, they are saying that integrity doesn't matter, honesty doesn't matter, competence does not matter, advocating violence does not matter. Heck even being a conservative does not matter. The only thing that matters is what jersey you are wearing. The Sterlings of the world are the worst sort of enablers.
Jonathan V. Last of the Bulwark explains why people like Sterling need to be ignored:
Because if a guy like Sterling says that Republicans are being literally “un-American” and are attacking the very “backbone of our democracy” AND that he’s still voting for them? Well, he is saying that he will always vote for Republicans, no matter what.
At which point there is no reason for anyone to pay attention to anything he says. Because it’s nothing more than theatrics.
OOP's short takes:
- News today is that Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani has tested positive for Covid-19.
- Saturday Night Live yesterday spoofed Giuliani witness Melissa Carone's appearance in front of the Michigan Senate. While Cecily Strong was good in the role, she could not live up to Carone's real life performance.