Here is a summary of the top 5 political issues making headlines this week.
1. PREDICTION: Without Trump on Ticket Georgia’s Democratic Senate Candidates Will Lose
Although many American’s think they will not be bothered by political ads until at least 2022, the balance of power in the Senate will not be determined until Georgia decides two Senate seats in their runoff elections on January 5th. Currently, Republican incumbents Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue are trying to fend off Democratic challengers Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff.
With the margins in the Senate so close, Democrats need to win both seats if they want to take the majority and usher in President-Elect Biden’s agenda. The Ossoff and Warnock campaigns are expressing optimism for their chances next month and polls show both races to be close, however this reader thinks that they will both ultimately fall short and for one simple reason. Donald Trump will not be on the ballot this time around.
While many pundits believe that Trump’s lack of presence at the top of the ticket will harm Republicans, I think the opposite will in fact happen. In this year’s general election Joe Biden flipped Georgia blue (for the first time since 1992) not because voters loved him but because suburbanites around Atlanta loathed Donald Trump. Once reliably Republican suburban areas turned out in droves to reject President Trump and his agenda, ultimately handing Biden a razor close victory and Georgia’s electoral votes.
The problem for Democrats in these races is that without Donald Trump to vote against these new Democratic suburbanites won’t have the passion to turn out and vote for two Senate challengers with very little name recognition. There is reason to believe that turnout will be reduced due to the fact that the election is going to be held right after the holidays.
The voters in MAGA-land however have proven to show up to Republican events anytime of the year, risking bad weather and COVID-19 to support any candidate to express support for Donald Trump. It stands to reason that their turnout on election day won’t lag at all.
Simply put, while these vitally important races might look close in the polls, expect the Republicans to be victorious due to the fact that the Democrat’s orange boogeyman will not be at the top of the ticket this time around.
a. Latest Polls Of The Georgia Senate Runoffs – FiveThirtyEight
b. The Suburbs Helped Elect Biden. Can They Give Democrats the Senate, Too? – The New York Times
c. Buckhead turned bluer as rising registrations brought more intown voters to the polls – Atlanta Journal Constitution
2. For America’s COVID-19 Stimulus Package, Congress Proves to be a Total Scrooge
Right before adjourning for the Christmas holiday Congress apparently sought to emulate Ebenezer Scrooge from A Christmas Carol. As Americans are struggling to stay in their homes, pay their bills and provide some semblance of a merry Christmas to their families the best Congress could spare in Monday’s stimulus package was incredibly miserly.
While businesses are shuttering and evictions are on the rise, Congress has debated for weeks what the second round of government stimulus would look like. Late Monday night, Congress passed their second COVID-19 stimulus package which amounts to not much, a one time $600 payment for qualifying individuals.
This is the equivalent of slapping a bandaid on a life threatening wound.
Despite the fact that conservative Republicans and progressive Democrats joined together to advocate for an increase in the size of the stimulus, congressional leaders ultimately favored a much more limited stimulus that in effect won’t do much for Americans that are struggling. In fact, reportedly Majority Leader Mitch McConnell blocked mandatory sick pay for workers unable to work due to COVID-19 infections.
Perhaps the worst part of the stingy stimulus package was that it did not target the hospitality industry which undoubtedly has been the hardest hit by COVID-19. Instead of direct relief, the $900 billion piece of legislation offers restaurants and bars the opportunity to apply for loans to keep their struggling businesses afloat.
Bah Humbug indeed.
a. Battered U.S. Restaurants and Bars Miss Out on Stimulus Bailout – Bloomberg.com
3. Embattled Gavin Newsom Plays it Safe with Replacement Pick for U.S. Senate
California’s Governor Gavin Newsom (D) has been having a rough couple of weeks. While cases and hospitalizations of COVID-19 have been soaring this autumn in his state, the governor has also come under scathing criticism for what has appeared to be blatant hypocrisy on his part.
Despite closing countless bars and restaurants and issuing another statewide lockdown, Newsom was seen dining at an indoor upscale restaurant in November with political associates, ignoring social distancing and mask protocols. The event has led to his approval ratings taking a hit and for his adversaries to promote a long shot “recall” effort to remove him from office.
To make matters worse, progressive political allies of Newsom’s warned him in November that he must appoint a racially diverse individual to outgoing Senator Kamala Harris’ seat when she ascends to the vice presidency next month. Harris will be America’s first woman, African-American and Asian-American to serve in the role.
To fill Senator Harris’ diverse shoes, advocates on the left sent stern warnings against replacing Harris with a white man. In addition, countless dollars were spent on internet and newspaper ads to encourage Californian’s to lobby the governor’s office to select a racially diverse replacement.
Realizing that he cannot take on political enemies from the right and the left, Governor Newsom selected Latino Secretary of State Alex Padilla on Tuesday to replace Harris in the Senate. Padilla has been a longtime friend and trusted ally of Newsom.
While Padilla appears to appease progressive Democrats diversity demands, Newsom is not completely out of the woods as he seeks to repair his image for a potential future presidential run.
b. Race Is Key Issue as California Governor Picks Harris’s Senate Replacement – Wall Street Journal
c. One Seat, Competing Pressures as Newsom Considers Senate Pick – The New York Times
4. A Tale of Two Inaugurations
The 2020 Presidential Election is over. It has been over for weeks. Despite Donald Trump’s refusal to concede, President-Elect Joe Biden has been moving forward with his plans for his coming inauguration on January 20th. While Biden’s inauguration has been expected to be pared down due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, his inaugural committee recently announced that the event will have a large virtual emphasis with restrictions placed upon public attendees.
“We will continue to honor the inaugural traditions Americans have always known: an official outdoor swearing-in ceremony, community service events, a reimagined parade, and virtual celebrations that bring the country together.” tweeted the inaugural committee.
Tickets to the event will be restricted and delegated out by senators and members of congress who will be awarded a specific amount of individuals that they can invite to attend.
While Biden is being sworn in office on January 20th, Trump supporters will be holding a virtual rally to serve as the second inauguration for the president that they still don’t believe lost re-election in November. So far, 60,000 people have signed up for the event on Facebook. It is not clear if Trump himself will take part in the event.
What is clear is that not only will Biden’s inauguration be a more muted celebration for American liberals but that Trump voters will never accept Biden as the next president of the United States.
5. Joe Biden Receives Vaccine, Still Says “Darkest Days” are Ahead
On Monday, 78 year old President-Elect Joe Biden received his first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. In order to urge the vaccine’s safety, Biden was vaccinated during a press conference where he fielded questions about the government’s logistical plans for distributing the vaccine.
While many Americans are starting to grow optimistic now that a vaccine is available and in use, Biden urged caution and realism as it will take many months before the nation can return to normalcy.
“One thing I promise you about my leadership during this crisis: I’m going to tell it to you straight. I’m going to tell you the truth. And here’s the simple truth: Our darkest days in the battle against Covid are ahead of us, not behind us,” Biden said at the press conference.
The multiple COVID-19 vaccines now available to first responders and the elderly are the result of many months of hard work conducted by the current administration dubbed “Operation Warp Speed”. Many medical professionals and government officials expect that America and the world will have enough people vaccinated or immune to the disease to return to “normal” by this summer
Biden himself has indicated that his administration would like to vaccinate 100 million Americans during his first 100 days in office.
What is clear is that despite the vaccine, America has a dark winter ahead.
b. ‘Darkest days ahead’: Joe Biden gives sobering message on Covid – The Guardian
c. Biden: Pandemic will get worse despite vaccine – The Hill