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OPINION | DEBRA HALE-SHELTON: Georgia plays a starring role

by Debra Hale-Shelton | January 10, 2021 at 8:39 a.m.

Georgia, you've been on my mind.

Thank you for standing up to incompetence and corruption, for voting your beliefs, and for not boycotting the U.S. Senate runoffs as two prominent Republican attorneys urged you to do. Democracy prevailed.

I'm especially grateful to Georgia's Republican leaders who stood up to outgoing President Donald Trump, taped him trying to betray his own country, and spoke the truth about this man who has the audacity, certainly not of hope, but of unchecked greed and power. As for Stacey Abrams, who has worked so hard and so long to increase the turnout of Democratic voters, especially Blacks, I can't say thank you enough.

I lived in Georgia about a year in 1989-1990. Most of that time was in an apartment in the Atlanta suburb of Smyrna, a Cobb County community billed as a "redneck town" by National Geographic in 1988.

I hear things have changed in parts of Georgia since those days. They must have; Cobb County defied the once red state's history and voted for Democrat Joe Biden in the November presidential election. Then on Tuesday, an Atlanta minister became the first Black Democrat elected to the Senate from the South. I celebrate the belated racial progress.

One of the few things I liked about Georgia was the church I attended in Marietta. I don't know how the members there voted in November or in last week's two Senate races. I don't need to know any more than they need to know how I have voted over the years. I just know they were kind and friendly. Not everyone is.

Still, I'd like to think they saw through Trump's lies, not to mention his confounding appeal to low-income whites even as he disdains the poor and especially those who aren't as white as the driven snow or as American as those born and bred in the USA unless they're sexy European immigrants. Instead, Trump promotes tax cuts aimed at helping the rich and a violent insurrection aimed at overturning our nation's democracy.

Clearly petrified of what awaits him after Jan. 20, Trump has recently spent more time trying to instigate violence and subvert democracy than governing. He even praised a mob that attempted a coup at the nation's Capitol on Wednesday.

The rioters' rage was aimed not only at members of Congress. "MURDER THE MEDIA" said a message written on a Capitol door. The media? Do we really think many of these mobsters read a daily newspaper?

How a man who professes to be a law-and-order president can justify calling rioters "great patriots" is beyond my comprehension unless he wanted to do exactly what he did: instigate more violence and not blink at the likelihood that someone might end up dead. Someone did.

After taking joy in defying police, the violent members of Cult 45 had the gall to sing the national anthem as if they love their country, as if they love anyone other than Trump and maybe themselves.

If these criminals are "great patriots," then so were last summer's looters. Both are criminals, not patriots. Protests are a legitimate part of democracy; sedition is not.

The attempted coup surprised me, but not too much. I'm jaded, cynical, having covered too much violence, heard too many lies, seen and heard too much hate.

Trump's involvement didn't surprise me, though I never thought he would go so far. I should have known better.

This is, after all, the same man who has worked incredibly hard to find ways to worsen the already difficult lives of immigrant children, the future of babies whose parents depend on food stamps, and the health of coronavirus patients who could lose their medical insurance if Trump gets his way. All the while, he has pretended to be pro-life.

Had Trump been blessed with a higher IQ, he might have succeeded in betraying this country and becoming a dictator. He might have succeeded if he had boasted less of his intent, kept his lies consistent, pouted and tweeted less, and paid as much attention to the coronavirus as he does to his hair, makeup and golf game.

I have voted for both Democrats and Republicans over the years, though it will surprise no one that I am thrilled the Democratic candidates won the Senate races in Georgia.

I am grateful that we witnessed another election where everyone's vote counted, not just those I agreed with. For those who chose not to vote, their inaction spoke quietly but truthfully about whether they cherish a democracy. They either don't, or they were sadly duped by the likes of Republican attorneys Lin Wood and Sidney Powell who urged them not to vote in the Senate runoffs.

Despite all I've written about Trump, I do not hate him. I also do not wish him further prosperity or power at the expense of others.

I hope he lives an incredibly quiet, relatively uneventful life, perhaps in the Appalachians near Inez, Ky., and the Big Sandy River.

I hear there's a place there where room and board are free to residents, but only men can live there. I don't know how the facility's management feels about the residents playing golf, but someday maybe Trump could build a golf course nearby and help revitalize the impoverished region's economy.

I doubt Melania Trump would care for life in the Appalachians. I don't think she could walk the trails very well in those spike heels she loves. But the area is so remote, she might not have to fret over any Christmas decorations next year. Don Jr. might even get to go bear hunting when he comes for a visit, though I would prefer he miss his targets.

If you're not familiar with this Appalachian wonder, go to the U.S. Bureau of Prisons' website and look for USP Big Sandy.

This was truly a tough year for Trump, for those who adore him, and for those who don't. He out-golfed his predecessor, former President Barack Obama, and persevered in the darkest of times.

Whatever you think about Trump, he was focused. He didn't even let a pandemic that has infected more than 21 million Americans and killed hundreds of thousands interfere with his golf or with an attempted coup. And he's certainly not a traditional politician. He's far, far worse.

Debra Hale-Shelton can be reached at Follow her on Twitter at @nottalking.


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