During the Georgia Senate debate on Sunday, incumbent Republican Kelly Loeffler had a simple four-word script that she constantly used to describe her opponent: “radical liberal Raphael Warnock.” On Twitter, she has called the man of the cloth “the most radical candidate to ever run for Senate,” and her television attack ads refer to Warnock as the “radicals’ radical.” Loeffler and her communications team get points for consistency. They think tarring her opponent as a “radical” is a winning message.
Much as right-wingers used edited clips of Jeremiah Wright’s sermons as a cudgel against Barack Obama in 2008, Loeffler uses edited clips of Warnock’s sermons at Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta to back up her claims. That’s because the issues he is actually running on are far from radical. For example, on health care, Warnock hasn’t endorsed the elimination of private insurance under a single-payer system. He wants to:
- Listen to the experts on getting the coronavirus pandemic under control;
- Protect, improve, and build on the Affordable Care Act by encouraging Medicaid expansion and creating a public option through early Medicare buy-in;
- Authorize the federal government to negotiate with drug companies to bring down prescription drug prices; and
- Provide comprehensive access to reproductive and mental health services.
Other proposals Warnock has put forward include things like funding police departments while increasing accountability, encouraging investment in clean energy, transitioning to a clean economy by 2050, and restoring the Voting Rights Act. Those are pretty standard Democratic proposals that are hardly radical.
The issues Loeffler highlighted on campaign her website are mostly standard Republican fare, such as being pro-2nd Amendment, against a woman’s right to choose, and a proponent of trickle-down economics (tax cuts for the wealthy as a way to grow the economy). When it comes to health care, her prescriptions are vague, but in October, she voted to allow the administration to proceed with its lawsuit to repeal the entire Affordable Care Act. Like the rest of her party, she favors millions of people losing their health insurance during a pandemic.
Loeffler’s biggest claim to fame is that she has voted with Donald Trump 100 percent of the time. At this point, she joins the president in ignoring the coronavirus pandemic while being obsessed with denying the outcome of the presidential election. In other words, Loeffler is content to put American lives at risk and challenge the foundations of our democracy. That’s pretty radical.
It was Loeffler who, in the midst of Georgia’s Republican primary, produced a series of ads claiming that she was more conservative than Attila the Hun. Of course, the campaign would suggest that it was all in fun. But journalist Jay Bookman had some trouble understanding what it was that made Attila conservative.
It’s not as if Attila was pro-life, a defender of law and order or someone who respected private property. The man was a vicious killer who slaughtered every living soul in the cities that he conquered and plundered. It’s also not about low taxes; Attila “taxed” you by stealing everything you had…So it’s a mystery: What exactly makes Attila an icon for today’s conservatives?
Bookman answered his own question by noting that Loeffler was happy to campaign with Republican House candidate Marjory Taylor Greene, whose embrace of QAnon conspiracy theories and white supremacy has drawn rebukes—even from GOP leadership.
Great to be in Ringgold today with @mtgreenee and a fired up crowd of Patriotic Georgians!
Now more than ever, we need outsiders and businesspeople in Washington who will FIGHT to protect the #2A, defend innocent life, and advance our conservative values! #gasen #gapol pic.twitter.com/Z3j0n4zbyW
— Kelly Loeffler (@KLoeffler) September 19, 2020
Note that in one of those pictures, you can see armed militia members standing guard around Loeffler and Greene and the perimeter of the event. By highlighting that picture on her Twitter feed—along with her association with Greene—Loeffler sent a message that she welcomes the support of white supremacists, QAnon, and militia members. That’s pretty much the definition of radical.