Evolution in Georgia Primaries? Doubtful

When a Georgia Senate candidate recently mused out loud about evolution and apes, I knew it was going to be an interesting primary season. Especially when, despite being challenged by five other candidates, this Republican candidate elected to not attend a debate. Surprising to some, this candidate still is most likely to win the primary. Not only does this not shock me, this matches my personal experiences here in rural Illinois. It also does not shock me that most people, including the media, have all but written off the Democratic primary in Georgia. In congressional races, it is a grave mistake to ignore any candidate that is on the ballot, even for incumbents, as Rep. Madison Cawthorn recently discovered in North Carolina when he lost his primary. Cawthorn now faces a House ethics investigation as they try and force him to resign.

I certainly couldn’t ignore Hershel Walker when he began a Q & A with this quip:

“At one time, science said man came from apes. Did it not?” Walker asked Chuck Allen, lead pastor of Sugar Hill Church, during Sunday’s event.

“Every time I read or hear that, I think to myself, ‘You just didn’t read the same Bible I did,’ ” Allen replied. 

Walker continued: “Well, this is what’s interesting, though. If that is true, why are there still apes? Think about it.”

Washington Post

Sometimes, when a person says, “think about it,” they are really saying, don’t think about it at all. It’s not like the theory of evolution was developed after a quick Q & A session over a half order of biscuits and gravy. Most people couldn’t comprehend the theory of evolution after a unit on the topic in science class, and, many teachers in America, fearing reprisal from parents seemingly wishing we were back in the Stone Age, have watered down evolution so much it has vanished entirely from many curricula. When cancel culture comes to silence ideas, burn books, and tell children they can’t be themselves, you know we’re in the New Dark Age. It is why so many people should not be home schooling any children, including their own. They simply don’t know enough, or worse, they want to indoctrinate their own children, as Rep. Mary Miller exposed ahead of the January 6th attack on our democracy. Most people lack the basic skills to teach anyone on any topic. Teaching isn’t as easy as reading a textbook to someone, after all. 

These same concerns are why so many candidates should have considered the most basic questions about principle and policy before they ever considered running for office. Most politicians today are most popular in these authentic “ah ha” moments, as Walker had with Pastor Allen. Instead, the background music from Hitchcock’s “The Birds” would be far more appropriate, as would indicate something is a bit off the wall.

These types of blunders are happening more frequently because politicians know less and less every election cycle. There is nothing wrong with not understanding evolution. The key is to know that you don’t understand a concept before diving into it publicly. People believe lawyers are somehow better than your average citizen. However, I was involved in a murder trial where the defense attorney didn’t even remember being the victim’s defense attorney only 8 years prior. He didn’t even run a basic Judici web search for any potential conflicts he might have had in the case. Understandable, perhaps, for an overworked public defender, which is why the State’s Attorney should have a procedure to identify any potential conflicts in defense counsel to avoid ridiculous appeals. I cannot tell you how many people have defended the prosecution for not having this procedure. Stating that we should rely on the honor system while the victim, victim’s family, and witnesses in the trial have to endure years of torture that could have been avoided with a 5 minute web search. Amazing how people enable themselves and the politicians tasked to protect and defend them to not even do a web search to find easily accessible answers.

When we demand less of ourselves, naturally, we demand less from those we elect to office.

It is for this reason that simplistic one line policy proposals have increasingly been used by politicians— these one-liners work on most people, and politicians don’t have much to remember but a limerick. Also, we are not a very patient people, if you haven’t noticed. Our capacity to remain focused tends to diminish annually. Complex systems that do not conform to a binary FOR or AGAINST system confuse most people. It’s more difficult to build and maintain more legislative support for comprehensive solutions within one political party let alone two. 

Consider the trajectory of the Affordable Care Act. It was a partisan passed comprehensive solution. Much like other large programs, like Medicare and Social Security, after the bill becomes law, many legislative and administrative fixes were necessary to fix obvious problems that were not part of the original plan. We used to agree to fix problems as nation, regardless of political affiliation. However, when the ACA was passed along party lines, and the Democratic Party lost the capacity to make changes without at least some Republicans allowing debate and a vote to take place, Republicans were too happy to campaign on the flaws in the ACA then to allow many or any votes to fix the law and the problems Americans were facing. Politics trumps people again.

Knowing that it is far easier to turn someone against some mammoth bill no one will ever read while obstructing any fixes to that bill is probably why many more candidates seem to be embracing the “for one and all” add on to any previously popular program. It is a lot easier to slap on some snazzy “we’re in this together” words than to rebuild or construct a new program that would require educating and gaining the support of the majority of voters. Conjuring nostalgia about past programs and the great times some remember decades ago while doing nothing to address today’s challenges was the beauty and the beast behind the MAGA, Make America Great Again, movement. Somehow, it became the easiest position to blame all those who try or have tried and even succeeded. Nostalgia can be more powerful than results.

Some folks just believe the first idea they have about any topic must be the best idea ever discovered about that topic. When they say, “think about it,” they’re saying, ‘I’m not going to bother because I know you’re not.’ Reminds me of those courthouse windows.

Back to Hershel Walker. “Why are there are still apes?” Well, Walker asks a great question for evolutionary biologists to answer. Simply put, it’s because we have common ancestors. Humans didn’t just miraculously come out of an ape. And, it wasn’t an ape at all. 

I actually looked at Chuck Allen’s rather substantial internet profile. Numerous times, he couples the words ‘science’ with ‘scripture’ as an indicator that his advice or opinion is accurate, whether or not if there is any science to back it up. When I am discussing certain issues with certain people, I will absolutely pull out my Bible and deliver a rather perfect scripture for the occasion. I wouldn’t crack open a religious text when talking to a group of a medical doctors or scientists. Different audience, different topic, different tools. Any source, regardless of its veracity or applicability to the current situation, can be used to convince others of what someone believes is true. All that is necessary is a willingness to already believe the source or to already believe the object of belief.

Is there any actual science to back up what he claims is science? I honestly don’t care. I was just doing my due diligence, as usual, to explore every nook and cranny of a story that perhaps the authors of the original article did not. I was a little surprised that his embrace of science did not make it into the article. I will share his blog post about COVID19, because I did find it somehow refreshing. Allen really seems to have found some space in a common intersection with me. He’s as much over the political party infighting as he is most of the fear-based politics that seem to galvanize both fringes to get in our faces, or face masks. Or, is this just another ploy to make people believe what he is about to say and do about his skewed views on politics?

If you wear a mask, you’re humiliated. If you don’t wear a mask, you are insensitive. If you vaccinate, you love your neighbor, if you don’t, you are selfish. If you voted red, you hate gay people and black people. If you vote blue, you don’t love America. 

In a world that is in desperate need of solutions, we have become a nation of whiners and finger pointers! Never before, have we been so divided, on so many different issues.

AChuckAllen

Regardless, the fascinating state of Republican politics and its intersection with culture, specifically rural culture, is riveting.

Let’s move to the equally interesting Democratic primary in Georgia’s Senate race. Yes, Sen. Raphael Warnock also has a primary challenge. People have all but written off all of these challengers to Warnock and Walker, but, as I mentioned before, in congressional races, that is a grave mistake. We’ll find out later today that these Senate races are a different story. 

Incumbents enjoy a much larger room to breathe in a primary, certainly. However, 26 US Senators running for re-election lost in their primary since 1962. Out of those 25 lost primaries, only 10 challengers to those winners were able to capitalize on the incumbent’s demise by pulling out a victory for the opposition. This means if you manage to take out an incumbent from your own party, you have a 5 to 2 chance to pull out a victory in November.

As an interesting aside, Sen. Arlen Specter switched parties while in office, unlike Senator Joe Liebermann, who switched to independent once he lost his primary. Specter ended up losing in the Democratic primary in 2010 after winning the seat for Republicans since 1980. His Democratic challenger went onto the general election and lost to now Sen. Pat Toomey, who is retiring this year (that’s another fascinating election left undecided). Liebermann, on the other hand, went on to win re-election, but as an independent. The Liebermann independent path option would not be open to primary losing candidates in some states, Illinois, for example.

In Georgia, an ambitious candidate decided to challenge Sen. Raphael Warnock in the primary again. Tamara Johnson-Shealey was one of seven Democratic candidates Warnock beat soundly in the primary, which was held on the same day as the general election. She received over 2% of the vote, which gave her 6th place out of 19 candidates. Warnock bested all candidates from both parties in that special election. Besides Warnock, there were two other Democratic candidates that garnered more votes than Johnson-Shealey. She was one of 6 candidates to earn more than 100,000 votes. 

There is what I would call a criticism of Tamara on one of the Wikipedia entries, calling her a ‘frequent candidate.’ The Democratic Party should be thrilled to have someone like Tamara out there fighting every day, every election cycle. I don’t have to agree with all of her policy positions to see her passion, her preparation, and her followthrough. She obviously has courage, convictions, and the chops to keep going. After reading that ‘frequent candidate’ comment, I began to examine her history a bit more closely. Preferring to go backward in time, we’ll start prior to the special election for the U.S. Senate. In 2018, Johnson-Shealey lost her primary bid for Georgia State Senate District 40 to Sally Harrell. Harrell went onto the general election to defeat incumbent Republican Fran Millar by 9 points, or roughly 7,000 votes. Harrell may want to thank Tamara for paving the way forward in this once Republican district. Back in 2014, her first election in District 40, Tamara not only soundly defeated her primary opponent 2 to 1, but managed to earn over 37% of the vote in the general. In 2016, she ran unopposed in the primary, and added 7% to her total.  Not only did she run for a state senate district that a Democratic candidate had not even bothered to compete for votes in previous elections, she did better than the last Democratic candidate in 2010 by 3% in 2014, and nearly 10% in 2016. She paved the way. Seems as if she receives no credit at all for placing her life and business on the line. 

It is not the first I have heard or seen this same path of an independent-minded Democratic candidate. Tamara has fought for children with autism by helping the KASSA act, or the Keeping All Students Safe Act, be introduced in this session of Congress. She fought for barber shops and beauty salons being hit economically when she founded the Concerned Beauty and Barber Professionals, helping to improve tax policy around the industry. The amount of interviews, podcasts, and other media she has been involved in is voluminous. 

I found one article that mentioned something negative about Warnock. This same article claims, ‘Warnock has no significant primary challengers and is considered a shoo-in for renomination.’ Deep into that same article, it mentions the following:

‘Warnock’s ex-wife, Ouluye Ndoye, is seeking changes to their child custody arrangement, accusing the senator of being in “willful contempt” of an existing agreement. This is the latest chapter in their troubled relationship; in a March 2020 incident, which was publicized during his initial Senate run, Ndoye told the police that Warnock ran over her foot with his car during an argument. Warnock was not charged and has said the allegations “didn’t happen.”’

Tamara has not gone negative against Warnock, which should be a plus in her column moving forward, but I doubt it.  The Democratic Party isn’t kind to folks like Tamara, that take the initiative. She’s running on reparations and increasing the minimum wage. I’ll be curious to see how many votes she racks up today.

In another primary race is Marcus Flowers, who has raised $8.1 million. He is in a 3 way Democratic congressional primary to take on Marjorie Taylor-Greene. More on this specific race after the primary. What his capacity to raise money shows is what could have happened in the 15th Congressional race if the media had ever focused their cameras and microphones on our own Rep. Mary Miller. It begs the question, why did the media not broadcast Miller’s ‘Hitler was right about one thing’ prepared speech ahead of the January 6th attack on our democracy? Her own husband’s truck was parked outside the Capitol with a decal attached to it. That decal was from one of the militia involved in the insurrection.