By Frank Blechman
In his victory speech the Rev. Raphael Warnock, U.S. Senator from Georgia clearly articulated the lessons we should all draw from his four election triumphs in two years.
Trust the people. He said, “You cannot lead the people unless you love the people. You can’t love the people unless you know the people, and you can’t know the people unless you walk among the people. You cannot serve me if you cannot see me.” A campaign is about a candidate making a connection with people. All the money, the consultants, the staff, the volunteers, the media, the polling, and the strategizing are about how to do that. If those resources are not used well to make connections, the resources are worthless and the campaign will fail. He won because he reached out beyond a base with a message for all Georgians. He said, “I want all of Georgia to know, whether you voted for me or not, that every single day I am going to keep working for you. I’m proud of the bipartisan work I have done, and I intend to do more because I believe that at the end of the day, we are all Americans, and it is that covenant that drives me …”
Do not get discouraged. Warnock said, “The times are dark, but the light, the scripture says, shines in the darkness. And the darkness overcometh it not.” Even in a deep-red state like Georgia, voters are not monolithic blocs. They are human beings making their own decisions about what and who will be good for them and those they love. The voters chose a solid Republican roster of statewide officers — and Raphael Warnock. He won because accepted the long challenge required to bend the arc of history.
The work is not done. He said, “Let’s dance on the mountain because we deserve this. But tomorrow we go back down into the valley to do the work.” He added, “Let me be clear, just because people endured long lines that wrapped around buildings, some blocks long. Just because they endured the rain and the cold and all kinds of tricks in order to vote doesn’t mean that voter suppression does not exist. It simply means you the people have decided your voices will not be silent.” He won because his campaign was not a one-shot effort. It was a point in a decades-long struggle in Georgia.
And so, even though we live in a state with solid Democratic elected leadership, let us remember to trust the people, to reach out broadly, and work long-term toward our goal of justice and prosperity for all.