Georgia midterm elections: Who is the long-term winner?

Jack Bernard is a retired healthcare SVP and nationally published columnist. He was the Chairman of the Republican Party and County Commission in Jasper County.

“For the loser now Will be later to win, For the times they are a-changin” ~ Bob Dylan

Almost two years ago, I wrote a prophetic op-ed in the Georgia Health News, “The rush to throw out Obamacare could backfire disastrously.” The column was also picked up by a few Georgia newspapers.
The column began, “We are the most religious democracy in the world, and our Judeo-Christian ethic demands that we take care of the downtrodden. But we are also the only advanced democracy without universal health coverage. Are we confused, or just hypocrites?”
I proceeded to detail exactly how and why the GOP made a major moral and political mistake by opposing the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) while absolutely failing to put forth any viable alternative, “In the long term, the GOP must change course or face the wrath of voters who will eventually be denied health care. It must advocate for expansion of a program that ordinary people in both parties know works: Medicare. That is the only realistic way to repeal the ACA and get broad political support at the same time.”
Since that time, voters have changed their minds about the ACA (Obamacare), with a majority now supporting it, a clear positive for Democrats in the recent national and state elections. Democrats had one of the largest Congressional House gains in recent history, including turning many formerly red districts blue.
Which brings me back to Georgia Republicans. As a Delegate to a Republican State Convention, I briefly met Brian Kemp. He seemed like an okay guy.
That is why I was so disappointed in his primary ads showing him pointing a shotgun at a teen. No responsible gun owner would ever do such a thing. I own a handgun and a shotgun, and I would never even think of doing something so irresponsible, which leads me to refute the irresponsible, untruthful Kemp attack ads, slamming Abrams as a “radical.” Nothing could be further from the truth.
Several years ago, a couple of prominent physicians and I met with Rep. Abrams in her office. We were advocating for Medicare expansion to cover everyone. We found that she was a moderate, not radical in any way.
At that time, she supported Medicaid expansion under the Affordable Care Act, paid for 90 percent by the Feds, a middle of the road position which would result in cutting the number of uninsured Georgians in half. She didn’t believe that it was politically feasible to push for single payer in Georgia, although she did want to see everyone with coverage. Although she did not support our more aggressive coverage position, I still found her to be very intelligent, caring, pragmatic, and reasonable.
The midterm elections were a pleasant surprise for me. Due to a number of factors (demographic changes, strong progressive platform, excellent grassroots organizing, Democratic enthusiasm) Rep. Abrams nearly won. If not for voter suppression by Sec. of State Kemp, I feel sure she would have prevailed.
Governor Kemp and the Georgia Republican leadership can continue to be take the road of voter suppression, blind support for Trump, and an agenda that looks backward rather than forward. However, if they do so, Kemp will be the last Georgia GOP Governor in my lifetime.

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