What Tuesday’s Special Election in Georgia Will (And Won’t) Tell Us About the Future

There’s a special election happening in Georgia’s sixth congressional district tomorrow. If you have so much as turned on a television in the past two months anywhere in the greater Atlanta area, you are already well-aware of this due to the barrage of advertisements that have inundated the region’s commercial breaks. If, for whatever reason, you have been enjoying these advertisements, then boy do I have good news: they aren’t stopping! For two more months!

That is, of course, assuming that tomorrow’s jungle primary results necessitate a runoff election in June, which is exceedingly likely. Democratic frontrunner Jon Ossoff would like to be able to win outright, but to do so would require him to eclipse the fifty percent mark. This is easier said than done, as Ossoff has a few Democratic rivals to compete with. While none of them are expected to finish above the low single digits, it would still require Democrats as a whole to finish well above fifty percent in what is thought to be, at the very least, a light red district. So far, no major polls have projected Ossoff to cross the fifty percent line.

Congressional elections are traditionally seen as local affairs, but as one of the first federal elections of the Trump era, this one has garnered national attention as a de facto referendum on the new administration. While Kansas’s fourth district race last week was a contest for one of the country’s most conservative districts, Democrats have sensed opportunity in Georgia’s sixth. Not only have the district’s demographics undergone gradual change in recent years, but sixth district Republicans have been rather lukewarm towards our new president. Trump barely squeaked by with a 51-49 margin in November, heavily outpaced by now Secretary of Health and Human Services Tom Price, the district’s former representative, who ran away with a 62-38 victory.

So if we assume that the sixth is now looking more purple than pink, is it fair to view tomorrow’s results as a barometer for the 2018 midterms? Maybe. If the Democrats have any prayer of regaining the House during the Trump era, they will need to make inroads into districts like the sixth, ones that are filled with just enough independents and moderate Republicans who could be persuaded to defect over their dissatisfaction with the president.

On the other hand, no race in 2018 will be quite like this one. For one, Democrats around the country have bankrolled Ossoff’s campaign to the tune of an astonishing $8.3 million and counting. Virtually from the beginning of the campaign, Ossoff emerged from the Democratic field as the “chosen candidate,” as the endorsements and dollars started pouring in very early on. Republicans have had to slug it out with one-another for contributions and support, and no one candidate has been able to bring in more than a small fraction of what Ossoff has commanded thus far.

Of course, the enthusiasm and interest from national Democrats in this race was to be expected. As we enter the third month of the Trump presidency, they have yet to acquire the “scalp” that they so desperately hoped to obtain during Cabinet confirmations. Replacing a Trump appointee with an unabashed progressive Democrat (in a Southern red state no less) would certainly be the next best thing. Comparatively, it’s safe to assume that many conservatives will be content to rest on their laurels after an astounding upset victory in November, and the lack of interest could result in diminished returns for the Republican side.

All this is to say that observers should be wary of drawing any major conclusions about the present or the future from tomorrow’s results. Certainly an outright win for Ossoff and the Democrats would seem to be a major rebuke to the new ruling establishment, but it would still be impossible to determine how things may have shaken out if the playing field had been a bit more even. With a June runoff election likely on the horizon, we will get a chance to see that more even playing field and thusly a better opportunity to gauge the future of the House.

And if you’re in Atlanta like me, you get to look forward to new ads! Lots and lots of ads.

Precedents, and Why We Keep Them

Spearheaded by efforts from Georgia congressman John Lewis, as many as sixty congressional Democrats have now said that they will boycott Friday’s inauguration of President-elect Donald Trump. It’s a startling disruption of a tradition that dates back to the founding of our republic (besides that one time, of course, where we went to war over the results.) Congressman Lewis has gone as far as to say that Trump’s presidency is “illegitimate,” while other Democrats have cited reasons that range from solidarity with Lewis to a Twitter poll of their followers that encouraged them not to attend.

Just an ocean away, in the tiny African nation of Gambia, President Yahya Jammeh has rejected his defeat in the country’s presidential election and announced a suspension of the constitution, escalating what could turn into a bloody standoff between the forces of Jammeh and the nation’s incoming president.

There is nothing that makes our people or our government intrinsically superior to that of Gambia’s, except for those in our history who cared deeply enough about the stability of our republic that they set aside their political differences and helped to facilitate a peaceful transition of power. Refusing to take part in that transition signals to the world that our constitutional system is unhealthy, and that it is buckling under the weight of partisan politics. Above all else, it is the responsibility of our nation’s political leaders to ensure that this trend towards degradation is not exacerbated.

While this is not the first time that some members of Congress have chosen to sit out an inauguration (nor is it the first time for Congressman Lewis,) this year’s widespread boycott only accentuates the massive rift that currently exists in our nation’s political climate. If one party chooses to take part in a widespread rejection of the results of an election, the opposing party will eventually respond in kind, until inaugurations become partisan affairs wherein half the nation and its representatives in Congress believe that our executive branch has no authority to govern. Not all precedents, of course, are good ones.

On that note, I have no doubt that four, or eight, or twelve years from now, when the Democrats inevitably take back control of the Oval Office, there will be those on the right that will choose to boycott the ceremony, citing special or extraordinary circumstances. It will be wrong then, just as it is wrong today. In the heat of a presidential election, circumstances will always seem extraordinary. But when the well-being of our democratic system is at stake, it is imperative that those circumstances are set aside.

Congressional Democrats face a choice with Friday’s inauguration: follow the precedent of our forefathers, or follow the example of Gambia. I know which country I would rather be living in.

Drinking Anything With Flavor Now Costs Extra in Philadelphia

It’s a new year with the promise of new beginnings for most Americans. That is, of course, unless you happen to live in Philadelphia, in which case the new year has brought with it all manners of new disappointments. The Eagles aren’t in the playoffs, Sylvester Stallone still doesn’t have an Oscar for Creed, and your city government has come up with an all new way of milking you for revenue, this time with a tax on “sugary” drinks.

The new tax forces consumers to dole out an extra 1.5 cents-per-ounce for the purchase of every “sugary” beverage. That doesn’t sound too bad unless, you know, you really think about it. For example, if you happen to be buying any of these drinks in bulk, does the tax apply to each ounce of each individual beverage? CNN’s Salena Zito discovered that the answer to that question is “yes,” which means you’ll be paying an extra 50% of the price of these beverages in many cases. Mind you, Zito happened to be buying Propel, a flavored water product that contains zero sugar, so perhaps this tax would have been more appropriately named the “drinks that taste good” tax.

Philadelphia residents needn’t worry though, because like most revenue scams, this one is for the children! Eighty percent of the money generated by the new tax will supposedly go towards early childhood education and other worthwhile ventures. What do sugary drinks have to do with children’s education? This is a question that Philadelphians do not need to think about, because the good folks at city hall have already thought about it for them, and the answer is that all revenue is good revenue!

This isn’t new territory for authoritarian, tax-happy nanny staters like the ones running the city of Philadelphia, and it should come as no surprise to anyone who’s dealt with progressives who are unabated in power. If you happen to live in a major city like Philadelphia where these leftists run amok, you can expect a scam like this one to be coming to a convenience store near you soon enough.

Our Commander-in-Tweet

Over the past month, I’ve picked up a new activity in my morning routine. Once I’ve showered, brushed my teeth, and started my morning cup of coffee, I now log on to Twitter to see what wild and wacky hijinks our soon-to-be president has been up to on social media that morning. Twitter is even nice enough to put the tweets at the top of my feed in the “While You Were Away” section so I don’t even have to scroll far to get to the fun stuff.

Sunday morning provided perhaps the wildest and wackiest moment yet when President-Elect Trump went after Alec Baldwin and Saturday Night Live for their unflattering portrayal of him. An incoming president publicly chastising a comedy program for criticizing him may be unprecedented, however it’s anything but unexpected.

Remember all of the claims we heard throughout the election cycle that the fabled Trump “pivot” was on the way? That Trump would eventually cast himself into the presidential mold and that the offhand comments and shots-from-the-hip were simply campaign theatrics for publicity? Well it didn’t come after the Republican primary, it never came during the general election, and if you are holding your breath that it will come sometime in the next forty-six days before Trump takes the oath, you can safely exhale. Trump is Trump, and he will never stop being Trump.

At this point, unpredictable tweeting is a major part of the Trump image, and lest we forget the refrain of his most fervent supporters during the campaign: Trump speaks his mind! He’s not afraid to go there and say what everyone is thinking! He’s not bound by political correctness! To Trump, going off on Twitter is simply giving the people what they want: a president that refuses to be bound by convention and tradition.

And as I watched Sunday Night Football last night, I saw multiple television spots for the new Celebrity Apprentice, now hosted by Arnold Schwarzenegger. The former centerpiece of the Trump media empire, still being carried on the network that publicly disavowed him a year ago, and now being hosted by a former governor who just so happened to be a #NeverTrump Republican. Forget Twitter, we may get a weekly press conference from the East Room about the state of those ratings.

For better or worse, online presidential outbursts will just be our new national normal. Pray for wisdom for our tweeting president.

There’s One Big Reason Why the Electoral College Isn’t Going Anywhere

Ever since their stunning upset defeat on Tuesday, in lieu of any actual introspection or lesson-learning, the Democrats have fixed their sights on what they now see as the real problem: the electoral college system that we have successfully used to elect presidents for the last 240 years.

Of course before Tuesday, there was nary a word spoken about the effectiveness of the system. Old wounds from the letdown of 2000 had healed, and in the wake of Donald Trump’s non-commitment to honoring the results of the election, with pearls firmly clutched and outrage teeming from every pore, the left was quick to declare that any objection to our fair electoral system was irresponsible at best, treasonous at worst.

Why shouldn’t they? Most analysts and forecasters agree that the map is quite favorable for any Democratic candidate. After all, Hillary Clinton needed only to maintain the “blue wall,” that bloc of light blue, upper Midwestern, Rust Belt states, to put herself in a position of near certainty to win.

But that didn’t happen and, in light of Clinton’s win in the popular vote, everyone from Slate Magazine to Captain America himself decided that the system was a very undemocratic way of conducting an election in our non-democracy and that it needed to be scrapped.

There’s just one big problem: when something only becomes a major issue when it’s sour grapes following an election defeat, it becomes very difficult to actually do anything about it. Or, to put it another way, support for abolishing the electoral college is almost always directly inverse to the amount of power yielded by the side calling for its abolition.

The Republican wave will not last forever. The pendulum will eventually swing its way back in the other direction. When that day comes, don’t expect to see many Democrats still waving the flag for changing the way we choose our president. When the system serves your ends, it’s difficult to get people to continue being upset with it. This is perhaps the most brilliant thing about our electoral system: it has an inborn defense mechanism that shields it from tantrum-throwing and hissy fits. If you want to change it, fine, but you’re going to have to do it when the American people actually want you running the show.

And with the presidency, both houses of Congress, and the majority of governorships and state legislatures belonging to the Republicans, I would say now is not that time.

The Left Really Wants Me to Support Donald Trump

In spite of all the crow that I have been forced to consume in the last three days, I remain proud to have opposed Donald Trump’s bid for the presidency. I outspokenly stood against Trump from the day he descended that escalator, and you can read all of that outspokenness in great detail on this very website. You can even poke fun at many of the assumptions I made that turned out to be completely and totally wrong.

But as the reality of our situation became abundantly clear in the wee hours of Wednesday morning, I experienced something during his victory speech that I could have never predicted just a few hours earlier: a profound calmness washed over me. His victory address was graceful and poised, free of the unhinged rhetoric and vitriol that marked most of his campaign speeches. I remain skeptical of his ability to govern and deliver a competent presidency, but I began to come to terms with the fact that the decision had been made, and now all that was left to do was hope that he carried this newfound measured temperament into the Oval Office with him. My hope was that if I, someone who detested Trump and had opposed him for nearly a year and a half, could put aside my reservations and give Trump a chance to prove himself, hopefully everyone, even those on the left, could do the same.

Nope! The left has done more in the last seventy-two hours to make me like Donald Trump than Donald Trump was able to do in sixteen whole months of campaigning.

From the petition calling on electoral voters to subvert the process and elect Hillary Clinton, to the calls for doing away with the electoral college altogether, to the protests, to the cry-ins, and to the calls for completely disenfranchising anyone who doesn’t live in a major city, the left has loudly and clearly demonstrated why so many people were so fed up with their version of political discourse.

The prevailing refrain, of course, has been that anyone who dared to support Trump is racist, bigoted, xenophobic, homophobic, transphobic, and arachnophobic, the circular logic being that Trump is racist, therefore supporting him is racist, because Trump is racist. In a time where the left is in desperate need of introspection, they have predictably retreated to their familiar safe space of identity politics and name-calling.

The very idea that Trump’s victory can be chalked up solely to the prejudice of white voters seems utterly preposterous, especially when you consider that he picked up six states that voted twice for Barack Obama. And yet it’s the only conclusion that the left seems willing to draw. I spent sixteen months virulently opposing Donald Trump and I retain profound misgivings over his character and his ability to lead. It took just three days of left-wing bitterness and complaining for me to feel much more secure in his victory. Imagine how all of those undecided voters in swing states who committed to Trump at the last minute must feel about the assertion that they are morally corrupt neanderthals who hate minorities.

Democrats are welcome to write Trump’s victory off as racism and bigotry at their own risk. For their sake, I would hope that they soon realize that pity parties and temper tantrums do not attract receptive ears. Only ideas and solutions do that.

Conservatives Have a Clickbait Problem (You Won’t BELIEVE Why)

Social media can be tiresome and irritating enough under regular circumstances. After you saw the Chewbacca mom video once, you really didn’t need to see it again, but lucky for you, three dozen other Facebook friends were happy to share the video with you again and again over the course of a week. During a presidential election, social media takes on a whole new degree of insufferability, as every John and Jane that you had fourth period biology with in seventh grade visits your timeline to let you know exactly how they are feeling about this debate or that scandal.

One particular online annoyance that gets kicked into overdrive for election season is clickbait, those often misleading and always irritating “news articles” that contain little to no substance apart from their eye-catching titles. They serve no purpose except to coax the gullible and uninformed into giving them a click, thusly increasing the site’s traffic and putting ad revenue dollars into the pockets of the site’s proprietors. Particularly troublesome this election cycle, however, is how susceptible conservatives have been to this phenomenon.

If you’re a regular Facebook user and your friends list leans to the right, you likely know exactly what I’m talking about. A headline from an obscure site that you had never previously heard of, with an all caps promise of SHOCKING or INCREDIBLE news that is certain to change the course of the election and possibly civilization as we know it. The contents of the article almost always range from already well-known, to conspiratorial, to completely false. Of course, it matters not if the story is later debunked; you’d be hard-pressed to find these sites printing any retractions or apologies. They’ve already generated the desired traffic and planted the story into the minds of those who don’t bother to check the veracity of their claims. Their work is done.

This scourge on our timelines could be dismissed as a mostly harmless nuisance, were it not for the recent rise in conservative media figures who have also fallen victim to the misinformation and presented the stories to their listeners and readers as fact. A few weeks ago, a California comedian pretended on Twitter to be an Ohio postal worker bragging about destroying absentee ballots cast for Donald Trump. Within hours, a handful of sketchy blogs ran with the (fake) story and conservative talk radio followed soon after. Then, just yesterday, another dubious story emerged about the Obamas scrubbing any mention of Hillary Clinton from their respective Twitter histories and the exact same sequence of events transpired.

In the age of Google, fact checking is not difficult. A quick glance at the postal worker tweet would have shown the comedian advertising himself as a California resident, plain-as-day, right there on his profile. Digging through the president’s Twitter would have been slightly more difficult; you would have to go all the way back to October 20 to find Obama praising Clinton’s final debate performance.

As a portion of the electorate that takes great pride in being “high information,” it’s rather disconcerting to see just how pervasive this problem is in conservative circles. How can we bemoan the left-wing bias and propaganda of mainstream news outlets if we alternatively choose to consume our own brand of garbage? If we choose to propagate stories and headlines that only serve to mislead and inflame simply because they validate our views, then we lose the right to characterize ourselves as well-informed.

So the next time you see an all caps headline, a far-fetched story, or a breaking news item that you WON’T BELIEVE, take your finger off that share button for just a minute. Google is just a click away.

Week 8: Everything You Need to Know for #Gameday

The Resurgent’s team of Philip Swicegood, Josh Hammer, and Dave Scharoun will be releasing its own NCAA football poll throughout the season, along with running commentary about each week’s highlights.

EDITOR’S NOTE: This week’s preview is dedicated to The Resurgent’s Director of Operations Philip Swicegood. Happy anniversary, Philip!

1. Alabama (Last week: def. Tennessee 49-10) (This week: v. Texas A&M)

Catharsis, sweet, sweet catharsis. I take back every bad thing I ever said about you, Nick. When more reasonable coaches may have said “that’s enough” or “let’s take it easy guys, we don’t want to embarrass them on their home turf,” Saban scoffed at such concerns and added three more touchdowns. I like to think at halftime, when he was ready to tell his team to take the foot off the gas, the little Kirby Smart photo he undoubtedly keeps in his wallet fell out, reminding him that ordinary humiliation was too good for these orange-clad hicks that celebrate touchdowns by singing about murdering government officials. Thanks Nick, you can hang 56 on us anytime. You will anyway, this is just me making myself feel better about it in advance.

2. Ohio State (Last week: def. Wisconsin 30-23) (This week: at Penn State)

I’m almost halfway nostalgic for the days when this team would waltz through their D-II schedule and sneak into the national championship game where they would get mugged by whichever team came out of the SEC that year. Truly simpler times. Now they have a real coach and play in a competitive conference and I’m forced to pay attention to them in the regular season. I’m just saying, these things didn’t happen when Bush was president.

3. Michigan (Last week: Bye) (This week: v. Illinois)

The Wolverines took the week off after beating Rutgers 78-0. No that’s not a misprint, that’s a real thing that happened. What in God’s name happened to Jim Harbaugh in the state of New Jersey that would arouse this level of ruthless vengeance? Was he forced to stay their for an extended period of time? Perish the thought. Anyway, this team is frightening.

4. Washington (Last week: Bye) (This week: v. Oregon State)

The worst part of writing these previews is having to come up with something to say about whatever Pac 12 team sneaks their way in here. I’m not sure I’ve ever watched a Pac 12 football game the whole way through. I mean a three hour time difference? Might as well be playing in Latvia as far as I’m concerned. Your games exist solely so that people in regular time zones can still have football on at the bar while they drink to forget football games that occurred between real teams. I have nothing else to say about this team.

5. Clemson (Last week: def. NC State 24-17) (This week: Bye)

The Tigers really have no business being here, seeing as that NC State only needed a field goal that was about the distance between the trunk and the hood of a mid-sized sedan to beat them at home. NC State was last relevant about a decade ago when Phillip Rivers had 23 fewer children than he has now. If you’re the betting type, you’ve now got a 1-in-5 shot of picking which game this team blows down the stretch to ruin their season. You might say Florida State next week but that seems too easy. I’m going with Wake Forest in four weeks. That seems stupid enough to happen.

6. Texas A&M (Last week: Bye) (This week: at Alabama)

And how could I forget the Aggies! Two weeks ago, Kevin Sumlin’s boys laid the first demoralizing blow to that squad of hill people coached by an inflated toddler person and I really can’t thank them enough for that. Best of luck in Tuscaloosa tonight, fellas!

7. Nebraska (Last week: def. Indiana 27-22) (This week: v. Purdue)

This is that weird part in the college football season where teams like Nebraska are still hanging around undefeated in the top 10 because they loaded the front end of their schedule with cakewalk teams and saved all the nastiness for the cooler months. We only have to deal with the Cornhuskers for one more week before they get a one-two punch of Wisconsin and Ohio State, both on the road. This will be a really fun team to watch in the Citrus Bowl while you start pre-game drinking for New Year’s.

8. Baylor (Last week: def. Kansas 49-7) (This week: Bye)

College football’s most unlikable program just refuses to go away no matter how much the general public wishes they would! The Bears have yet to beat a ranked opponent yet so rightfully no one is taking them seriously. The Big 12 is really bad this year and I’m tired of talking about it.

9. Louisville (Last week: def. Duke 24-14) (This week: v. NC State)

Other than a road game with Houston (Why does that game exist? Why is it so late in the year?) Louisville has basically no one noteworthy left on their schedule. Unless Clemson has a true meltdown in the vein of a team like Clemson and drops two more conference games down the stretch, the Cardinals aren’t going to the ACC title game, meaning this team is basically already in the Cotton Bowl. It might suck to know exactly where you’ll be in the postseason in late October, but at least it’s fun to watch Lamar Jackson play football. Plus you still got that whole Papa John’s thing going for ya, that’s pretty cool right?

10. Florida (Last week: def. Missouri 40-14) (This week: Bye)

With Tennessee’s 39 point beatdown last week from the Tide (which I want to stress that this writer found to be both personally rewarding and emotionally exhilarating), the Gators will now meander their way into another SEC Championship appearance that they did literally nothing to earn. But that’s okay. Frankly I think they should just abolish the SEC East and just have the Washington Generals play Alabama in the championship every year. At least then Nick Saban hanging 84 on some helpless team would be more fun and lighthearted and less “violation of the Geneva Convention-y.”

11. West Virginia (Last week: def. Texas Tech 48-17) (This week: v. TCU)

12. Wisconsin (Last week: lost to Ohio State 30-23) (This week: at Iowa)

13. Arkansas (Last week: def. Ole Miss 34-30) (This week: at Auburn)

14. Tennessee (Last week: lost really badly to Alabama 49-10) (This week: Bye)

Maybe I’ve been too tough on the Vols. After all, ten years of ineptitude legitimately made me take pity on this team. “The conference is just more interesting when Tennessee is good!” I misled myself into believing. But then you just had to go and beat us with shenanigans. You just flushed all that goodwill down the toilet. At this point, if a genie granted me three wishes, I’d use the first to relive that Alabama game, the second to have Tennessee rehire Phil Fulmer, and the third to have them immediately fire him again so this program could be plunged into another decade of darkness. You’ve caught me in a very bitter year, Tennessee.

15. Utah (Last week: def. Oregon State 19-14) (This week: at UCLA)

16. Boise St (Last week: def. Colorado State 28-23) (This week: def. BYU 28-27)

17. Western Michigan (Last week: def. Akron 41-0) (This week: v. Eastern Michigan)

18. Houston (Last week: def. Tulsa 38-31) (This week: at SMU)

19. Florida State (Last week: def. Wake Forest 17-6) (This week: Bye)

20. Oklahoma (Last week: def. Kansas State 38-17) (This week: at Texas Tech)

21. North Carolina (Last week: def. Miami 20-13) (This week: at Virginia)

22. Auburn (Last week: Bye) (This week: v. Arkansas)

23. Navy (Last week: Bye) (This week: v. Memphis)

24. Ole Miss (Last week: lost to Arkansas 34-30) (This week: at LSU)

25. LSU (Last week: def. Southern Miss 45-10) (This week: v. Ole Miss)

26-99. Lots of other teams, including Vanderbilt.

100-111. The entirety of the Sun Belt Conference

243. Georgia Southwestern State University (Discontinued football: 1989)

Even further down. Georgia (Last week: lost to Vanderbilt) (This week: Mercifully bye)

I don’t have much to say here. We lost to Vandy at home. Yes, I’m aware that Mark Richt used to coach here. Yes, I’m aware he’s a very nice man. I don’t know what he’d do about an offensive line that protects about as well as a group of third graders playing Red Rover but then again, I’m sure Scripture couldn’t hurt. I have 178 hours and 30 minutes to prepare myself for that Florida game so I think I’ll start drinking now.