Socialists almost cost Democrats Georgia: Why we need to excise the alt-left cancer now

If Georgia is the center of gravity of this election cycle, Stacey Abrams is its centripetal force. 

It was because of her legendary organizing and faith in Georgia that voters in Georgia followed up Donald Trump's Monday rally for his supplicants Kelly Loeffler and David Purdue by delivering a defeat at the ballot box for both of them. Rev. Raphael Warnock has defeated Loeffler, making history as the first Black senator from Georgia, and Jon Ossoff appears to have won over Sen. David Purdue of the "Kamala-mala-mala" fame as well. The twin Democratic triumphs in Georgia a mere two months after President-elect Biden closely defeated Donald Trump to the eternal shame and consternation of the Confederate King. Warnock and Ossoff's victories, added to Biden's, represent a tectonic shift not just in Georgia but in the national landscape as well.

Provided that Ossoff's lead holds, the Senate will now be divided 50-50 between the Democratic and Republican caucuses, and once President-elect Biden and Vice President-elect Harris are inaugurated, Harris's tie-breaking vote as President of the Senate will give control of the floor to Democrats.

While the importance of these races to the progressive movement cannot be overstated, the fact that Ossoff's margin over Purdue is much narrower than Warnock's relatively comfortable victory over Loeffler should send up some warning signs.

Part of the reason for the differential in the margins is undoubtedly the special unpopularity of Kelly Loeffler, who tied herself tightly to Donald Trump not only in policy but in crass, name-calling, mean political style. Loeffler's attack on Rev. Warnock's faith and his Church - the spiritual home of Martin Luther King, Jr. and John Lewis - badly backfired by engendering backlash from the state's African American voters, which Ossoff benefited from as well.

But there is another part to why Ossoff's margin is so much narrower: the alt-left socialists who continue to attempt to suck up oxygen in every election and scare the pants off of the voters in the center that Democrats need the most. In addition to Purdue creating a more moderate image of himself compared to Loeffler (in demeanor if not on policy), Republicans were more successful in tying Ossoff to the socialist flank of the Democratic left, not least because Ossoff himself committed an early unforced error by touting Bernie Sanders's endorsement, and Warnock's challenge was to overcome the false accusation of radicalism via attacks on his Church.

Ossoff - and by association, Warnock - was viciously attacked for just making that association, even though Ossoff's policy positions differ from Sanders's significantly, aside from certain broad consensus issues like a $2,000 COVID-relief direct payment and a $15 minimum wage.

A lot of voters who are repelled by Trump still voted for his enablers in the Senate because they were sufficiently scared that the far-left would have greater influence and control should Democrats be able to control both houses of Congress. Think about that. People who voted "strategically" not because they did not like the Democratic candidates asking for their votes - in fact, some even said they would have voted for the Democrats had Trump been re-elected - but because of who they were concerned may be ultimately empowered by their election.

There can be no doubt that the radical leftist faction of the Democratic party continues to make people who are otherwise receptive to Democratic ideas and candidates nervous. So nervous, in fact, that, they are willing to take a chance on right-wing Republicans just to preserve divided government. And they are willing to preserve deadlock on just the mere chance that the far-left could have more influence in a united Democratic government. The far-left and their sloganeering rhetoric around defunding law enforcement and socializing large sections of our economy are driving voters away.

Republicans did not seek to tie Ossoff and Warnock to visible socialists as a trial balloon. In fact, they used it in Georgia because they succeeded in the November cycle with that argument in Congressional and Senate races throughout the country, which allowed them to hold on to Senate seats once thought to be near-certain Democratic pickups. The stakes in Georgia would have been much lower if Democrats had been able to pick up seats in places like Maine and North Carolina.

If Democrats are to make inroads in the new battlegrounds opened up by this election cycle - not just in presidential races but in the races for Congress, Senate, governorships, state legislatures, and other offices - then we must declare independence from the socialist, intolerant left. The Democratic Party must make it clear to voters that unlike the takeover of the Republican party by the radical right, we will not cede ground to our counterproductive, extremist fringe.

The best thing about the results from Tuesday night is that Democrats will now have an opportunity to demonstrate that exactly that.