I love Georgia. I told my editors, as the Joe Biden–Donald Trump race came to an end, that if we’d been able to travel, I’d have gone to Georgia. But we couldn’t, so I didn’t, and I had to watch the huge excitement of the state I’d repeatedly watched falling just short—for Jon Ossoff in Georgia’s Sixth Congressional District in 2017; for Stacey Abrams for governor in 2018—going for Biden from a distance.
Now we have a historic two-Democrat runoff for the US Senate. One candidate is Black—a candidate Georgia’s election runoffs were invented to disqualify, Ebenezer Baptist Church’s Rev. Raphael Warnock—and the other, investigative journalist Ossoff, is white and Jewish. It’s the combination the late Dr. King and Representative John Lewis saw as creating the beloved community in Georgia, a combination Warnock called “marvelous” the other day. Their opponents, incumbent Senators Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue, are kajillionaires (I don’t know how much money they really have, so I made up a word) who both traded stock after they got briefings on the pandemic. And they won’t vote for pandemic relief.
Democrats really can take both seats, but it’s going to be hard. Georgia Democrats will need a lot of help. But what they don’t need is you, or me, heading down there (unless by “down there” you mean from Habersham County or thereabouts to Atlanta).
My daughter worked for Ossoff in 2017, from the first race (which he lost narrowly) through the runoff in that election (which he also lost also fairly narrow). She and her team were grateful for the volunteers from all over the country who showed up in suburban Atlanta—but at a certain point, they didn’t know what to do with them. I can’t imagine that chaos, statewide, during a pandemic.
I’ve texted some friends working down there, just to be sure. There is consensus: None of them want you coming down to knock doors, or anything else. As the great Stacey Abrams put it: “Help us mobilize voters and raise the resources we need from where you are.” They are carefully figuring out how to do door-knocking and in-person campaign events (yes, many are concerned that Democrats’ failure to get on the doors this summer and fall hurt down-ballot candidates.)
Georgia has enough people to turn Georgia blue. They did it. It works. Georgia just needs the resources, given everything Republicans are going to throw into this race. Folks who know say give directly to the Warnock and Ossoff campaigns. Give to Abrams’s Fair Fight Action. Give to the organization Abrams founded back in 2013—which, in this amazing interview by Rebecca Traister, she explains began as a group of navigators to help Georgians figure out the Affordable Care Act: the New Georgia Project, led by the inspiring Nse Ufot. Give to LaTosha Brown’s Black Voters Matter. Or give to a whole lot of local organizers, with this Movement Voters Fund link.
I’m going to try to cover the Georgia election from up north, by phone and online. I’ve gotten to know a lot of people over the last three years; I think it’s doable. If I have to, I will go there, because that’s my job. It’s not your job. Stay home. Research Georgia groups that are doing good work, that you personally trust (my list might not be your list). Give to those groups. If they’re doing texting or phone banking, join them. Just stay home. Keep Georgia safe. Turn Georgia blue. Both are within reach.