In 2018 when former Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp narrowly defeated former state Rep. Stacey Abrams in the race for governor, it was the closest governor’s race in Georgia’s history, with Kemp winning by a margin of less than 2 percent. While Georgians would later vote for Biden, Ossoff and Warnock during the 2020 Presidential election cycle, Kemp had one key advantage on his side: voter suppression.
Now, the 2022 midterm election is just weeks away, and Republicans are back at it again, seeking to suppress the Black vote to steal–I mean, sway–the election between Sen. Raphael Warnock and former NFL running back Herschel Walker. With Walker’s campaign and his positions on the issues, it’s clear that voter suppression tactics aren’t limited to voter ID laws and the abrupt removal of polling places in majority Black districts. Voter suppression also includes a cycle of misinformation and fallacies to distract voters from the issues that matter most when choosing the best candidate.
Whether he realizes it or not, Walker is being used as a tool by the Republican party to spread misinformation by using dog-whistle language about conservative ideals to divide Georgia’s Black voters. If he hasn’t figured out how to do anything else, Walker has figured out how to cosplay as a man committed to the “traditional family values” the Republican party has touted for decades.
After the leak of the draft decision for Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization in May, Walker wasted no time voicing his support for a total ban on abortion with no exceptions—not even in the case of rape, incest, or the health of the pregnant person. Walker taking this stance, is pretty rich, considering that he is the same man who gladly paid for his girlfriend’s abortion in 2009.
Sen. Reverend Warnock, on the other hand, is a leader who will continue to practice what he preaches. During his 2020 campaign, Warnock received backlash after confidently tweeting that he is a “pro-choice pastor.” Once elected, he became an outspoken advocate for reproductive justice, as it aligns with his commitment to ensuring access to quality health care as a human right. The reversal of Roe v. Wade is a threat to Black people in the South. They require critical reproductive health services such as miscarriage care, pre-natal and birthing support, and access to affordable contraceptives. Now more than ever, leaders with a true commitment to reproductive justice are non-negotiable.
And while Walker doesn’t know much about policy, he seems to be an expert in spreading lies and misinformation about issues that heavily impact Black voters. Two days after the Uvalde school shooting earlier this year, Walker offered his solution to gun violence: creating a department that could “look at young men that’s looking at women that looking at social media.” The truth is, Herschel Walker has no plan for gun control, no knowledge about how policy works or how government agencies are formed and no empathy for mass shooting victims. All he can offer is nonsense and vibes.
In contrast, Warnock has been an outspoken advocate for ending gun violence. As a pastor, he understands the threat of gun violence to places of worship and the community as a whole. In his first term, Warnock supported legislation that would close loopholes in our gun laws that allow people who have committed domestic abuse to access firearms, require background checks on all gun sales and secure funding for community violence initiatives and gun violence research. We can count on Warnock to advocate for and propose legislation that will keep us safe from being gunned down in our places of worship, our schools, and our grocery stores.
The rising costs of food and housing impact poor and working-class Black folks who are already stretched financially, making it even more difficult to thrive and provide for themselves and their families. Our elected officials must make policy decisions to address the economic needs of our communities. Warnock knows that an economic system where wages stay stagnant while the cost of living continues to rise is an unjust system. In his first term, he backed the Inflation Reduction Act, the bill that included his proposals to lower prescription costs and cap the cost of insulin at $35 per month for Georgians on Medicare.
Meanwhile, Herschel Walker claims that inflation affects women more than men since, apparently, “[women] gotta buy groceries.” That’s it. No analysis, no data and no understanding of how inflation works–just more lies to feed the conservative misinformation machine.
Walker’s ignorance of policy issues and reliance on tired conservative buzzwords and talking points indicate that he believes Black voters will fall for anything. But Black folks in Georgia are smarter than that. We know what our communities need to thrive. We know how to address the deep inequalities that still exist as a direct result of chattel slavery. We need leaders who listen and apply what they have learned to advocacy and policy decisions.
Simply put, Herschel Walker is not equipped to represent Georgia in the Senate. And he knows it. He’s publicly admitted that Warnock would “embarrass him” in a debate. Senator Warnock has shown us that he is that kind of leader and that we can trust him to continue to fight alongside us on every single issue that matters most to us.
Republicans are working so hard to suppress the Black voters in Georgia because they know how critical our votes are to Democratic wins in the South, especially during the mid-term elections. In the weeks leading up to the beginning of early voting in Georgia, Black voters must recognize Herschel Walker for who he is: a charlatan and a phony used by the Republican party to divide the Black vote.
We deserve leaders like Senator Raphael Warnock, who is more than qualified to continue his leadership in Congress. He has always kept it real with us in the Senate, the pulpit, and his community in Georgia.
Nse Ufot is a strategic advisor for the New South Super Pac and chief executive officer of the New Georgia Project and its affiliate, the New Georgia Project Action Fund.
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