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Why I, a Republican, am (reluctantly) voting for Pastor Warnock in the Georgia election

I had been a Republican for many years when Donald Trump came along. I could not bring myself to jump aboard Trump Train, thanks to my derision and disdain for the man, and during the 2016 election, I ended up writing in Nebraska GOP Senator Ben Sasse and Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker (I lived in Boston at the time) on my ballot.

I considered the write in option again in 2020, but the COVID-19 pandemic changed everything. I saw in Joe Biden the only viable alternative. Before leaving New York City for Georgia recently, I cast a ballot for a Democrat for the first time in my life.

It will not be the last time, either. Georgia is now in a run-off election, with Democrats Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock facing off against Republicans Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue.

Reverend Warnock reminded me a bit of the late Minnesota Senator Paul Wellstone who famously used humor in his political ads in his upset victory over Rudy Boschwitz three decades ago. Warnock’s first ad was a parody of an attack ad which claimed Warnock ate pizza with a fork, once stepped on a sidewalk crack and, for good measure, hated puppies.

“Here’s a happy warrior,” I thought to myself. Someone who knows there’s a lot at stake but also someone who can laugh at himself.

But my amusement turned to dismay when I learned that Warnock had signed a petition last year comparing Israel to Apartheid era South Africa and likening Israel’s security fence to the Berlin Wall. My dismay turned to anger when video from 2018 emerged of Warnock accusing Israel of shooting “unarmed” Palestinians “like birds of prey”.

Warnock also saw fit to erroneously characterize Palestinians as practitioners of non-violence when in point of fact they set tires ablaze and hurled firebombs and stones at Israeli troops across the border.

I was further disappointed when Ossoff saw fit to defend Warnock. Ossoff told The Forward, “Reverend Warnock is a beloved friend and ally of Georgia’s Jewish community and a friend of Israel. Kelly Loeffler’s baseless attacks on the Reverend make me sick.”

Ossoff’s comments are self-serving, seeing as his political fortunes are tied with Warnock’s and that of the Democratic Party at large. Senator Loeffler is guilty of many things, but she did not make up Warnock’s statements out of whole cloth.

It is true that Warnock is held in high regard by Georgia’s Jewish community, as demonstrated by Rabbi Peter Berg of The Temple (Atlanta’s oldest synagogue), who noted that Warnock was the first person to call upon him and offer words of comfort after the October 2018 Pittsburgh synagogue attack which claimed the lives of 11 Jews.

However, the jury is very much out as to whether Warnock is a friend of Israel. For his part, Warnock insists he opposes BDS. Yet the question remains as to why he would sign a petition likening Israel to one of the world’s most despised regimes, which was subject to an international campaign of boycott, divestment and sanctions? What friend of Israel would accuse it of wantonly shooting unarmed Palestinians when, in fact, they were armed and engaging in violence?

Under normal circumstances, I wouldn’t vote for Warnock. Alas, we are not living under normal circumstances. Senator Loeffler, like Senator Perdue, saw fit to liquidate her stock portfolio when she learned how dire the COVID-19 pandemic before the rest of the American public did. Yet she’s unwilling to support a desperately needed stimulus package to assist millions of Americans out of work due to the pandemic.

So long as Loeffler and Perdue remain in the Senate with Mitch McConnell in charge, they won’t be forthcoming in offering relief to everyday Americans. If a Republican controlled Senate was unwilling to extend enhanced unemployment benefits beyond the end of July, what makes anyone think they will be prepared to help with Biden in the White House?

Relief to millions of unemployed Americans will only come if Georgians see fit to elect both Ossoff and Warnock. That includes my vote.

In short, I will be casting a ballot for Warnock for the same reason I voted for Biden. To paraphrase James Carville, “It’s about the pandemic, stupid.”

Nevertheless, my ballot for Warnock will be cast with both reluctance and reservation.

Aaron Goldstein was born & raised in Canada but has lived in the U.S. for the past 20 years. He has contributed articles to both The American Spectator & National Review Online.

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