Senator Reverend Raphael Warnock defeated Herschel Walker in the Georgia Senate runoff Tuesday night. We can take heart in the result, if not the fact that 1.7 million people—and counting—thought Herschel Walker should be a United States senator. Herschel Walker's candidacy has been kind of like having a shark in the pool. Sure, it may not have bitten you. If it had chomped you, you may not have died. But why is there a shark in the pool in the first place? Who put the shark in the pool, and what do they get out of it? And why are so many people cheering for the shark?
To be more precise, why did a lot of people want the shark to have a role in running the pool? Despite the shark's demonstrable disinterest in chlorination, lifeguard recruitment, and safe diving practices, a lot of people—millions of people—wanted the shark on the Pool Management Committee. Why? Aren't they in the pool with the rest of us?
It feels almost unnecessary at this point to run through Herschel Walker's record as a national political candidate. He's running in Georgia but said in a campaign speech that he lives in Texas. Every once in a while, his campaign has acknowledged another child he fathered out of wedlock and doesn't have much of a relationship with. The son he does have some relationship with has blasted him and his campaign. He does not deny that he once held a gun to his ex-wife's head and told her he would blow her brains out. He says he doesn't remember that episode because he suffers from dissociative identity disorder, formerly known as multiple personality disorder. He does deny the growing number of allegations that he paid for or pressured his partners to get abortions. He does, after all, support banning abortion, even in cases of rape or incest. This is because he is the Christian Conservative Candidate.
That was the rationale that Newt Gingrich, a true man of Christ, offered for making Herschel Walker a United States senator. Walker will change the Senate through "his deep commitment to Christ," the former speaker of the House said on Fox News. This was in contrast to Walker's opponent, an actual reverend. Raphael Warnock is the senior pastor at Atlanta's Ebenezer Baptist Church, where Martin Luther King Jr. once preached. But Warnock isn't a real Christian, because he's a SOCIALIST! who supports abortion. Walker is a serial entrepreneur who's helmed many companies—don't ask about them—and who...don't look back at the previous paragraph.
For a while, the answer for a lot of people to the question "why make Herschel Walker a senator" seemed to be that if Walker wasn't elected, Those People would control the Senate. By Tuesday, that outcome was baked-in either way: Democrats had the seats. This runoff has only told us who will represent Georgia in governing all of us. Politics is the process of distributing power and resources. In a democracy, in theory, the people distribute power to individuals who make the rules and policies that govern all of our lives. No one—not even his foremost backers—has really made the case that Herschel Walker should make the rules we all must live by. He does not seem interested in governing the country at all, at least compared to his interest in werewolves and vampires. But in fairness, the party to which he belongs isn't much different.
They're more interested in producing their own cinematic competitor to The Russian Connection. Theirs will apparently star Hunter Biden and, like most conservative cultural products, will leave something to be desired. Remember inflation? The issue that Republicans retook the House of Representatives promising to solve? I won't be holding my breath waiting to hear about that one. This is the party of and for people fundamentally unserious about governing as a use of political power. The issues are cudgels you beat the other side with until you win power. Then you pass tax cuts for rich people.
Walker fits right in, then: a dependable vote on the things that really matter. But that he was even remotely viable as a candidate is particularly unsettling. It suggests something is very wrong in the pool. Donald Trump was elected to run the pool—a farce—but he'd at least spent decades posing in public as a manager of many grand and fabulous pools. He could whip the national pool into shape! Walker was meekly presented as a Business-American like Trump, but we've mostly dropped even the pretense. Members of the political media laughed at him, and nobody believed he would be a competent legislator. But he was simultaneously greeted as a serious candidate because he was the Republican nominee, and he was the Republican nominee because the previous charlatan backed him in the primary. One is swamped by the feeling that we’re circling the drain—unless, of course, the Republican Party somehow starts nominating actual pool managers again. Who's holding their breath?
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