Kamala went down to Georgia Friday to encourage black people to get vaccinated against COVID-19. Georgia is an important part of the Democrats’ plan to maintain their slim majorities in Congress. Look for her and Biden to travel there at every opportunity between now and the mid-term elections.
Joe Biden and Kamala made Georgia their favorite state during the 2020 presidential election cycle. They understood that the defeat of the two Republican senators would flip the Senate into the hands of Chuck Schumer and Democrats. Joe Biden received a slim victory in the presidential race (less than half of a percentage point) while Warnock and Ossoff won the Senate seats. Now Warnock is running for a full term, as Warnock won a special election to serve out retiring Senator Jonny Isakson’s term. Republicans hope to take back the seat in 2022.
Kamala went to Georgia and Warnock was present in her entourage, as was Ossoff. She was in Atlanta to promote the safety of the COVID-19 vaccinations to black audiences and present participating in getting vaccinated as a way to protect themselves, their families, and their communities. Is that a harsh way to describe her targeted audience – by racial lines? I don’t think so. She only visited two sites, both are “historically black institutions.”
Harris appeared at the Ebenezer Baptist Church and Clark Atlanta University, two of the city’s historically Black institutions, with a biblically-tinged message: that getting inoculated is an act of loving yourself and your neighbor.
“Getting vaccinated is about building the power of community. Getting vaccinated is about building the power of our country,” Harris told a cheering crowd of about 300 Atlanta University Center students and Democratic officials at CAU. “And we can do this, Georgia. I know we can do this.”
Her visit was part of Biden’s National Month of Action initiative which aims to partially vaccinate at least 70% of U.S. adults by July 4. We know that goal will likely fall short and that people have slowed their willingness to get vaccinated. In Georgia, the vaccination rate has fallen well below the national rate. 52.8% of the state’s adults have received at least one dose, while the nationwide rate is 64%. The rate of adult Georgians who have received one dose is about 44.5%. 34.8% of all Georgians are fully vaccinated. So, Kamala traveled to Georgia to ask black Georgians to get vaccinated. The two least vaccinated groups are people of color and white Republican men. She chose to ignore the latter group.
Among the least vaccinated groups: people of color and white Republican men. In an interview with the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Harris rejected the notion that distinct tools are needed to appeal to the latter. Polls show they are among the most wary of the COVID-19 vaccine.
“We want to save the life of the American people,” Harris said. “It should not be a political issue; it is not a political issue. That COVID could care less who you voted for in the last election, let’s be clear about that.”
Of course, it is a political issue – she and Joe Biden made it a political issue, along with other Democrats, when the vaccines were first available. The products of Operation Warp Speed during the Trump administration, Kamala, Joe, and other prominent Democrats in Washington made a point of saying they were hesitant to take the jab. The implication at the time was that since it happened during the bad Orange Man’s administration it couldn’t really be a good thing. Never mind it is Trump’s shining legacy, along with his historic success with the American economy before the coronavirus pandemic destroyed it. Trump was well on his way to re-election before the pandemic and the Democrats used the vaccines as a political tool.
If Kamala’s visit wasn’t all about tending to potential black voters in 2022 and 2024, she would have at least made a gesture toward visiting a location where she could speak with white conservatives. She’s not interested in that. She admitted she doesn’t think they deserve any extra effort to get them to vaccination centers. The Biden administration has provided incentives for communities with people of color, though, by way of offering free child care and transportation. Is that racially biased? It looks so.
Conveniently, shortly after Kamala wrapped up a speech at Clark Atlantic University, Biden announced that 300 million COVID vaccinations had been administered in 150 days. Kamala was joined by Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms and Congresswoman Nikema Williams, besides Warnock and Ossoff. Democrats cannot win Georgia without a strong turnout from black voters. They are pinning their hopes on inner-party fighting among Republicans over Governor Brian Kemp’s actions during the 2020 election and expect to sweep Stacey Abrams into that office in 2022.
Georgia, along with North Carolina, Arizona, and Florida are the states to watch in 2022 in the battle for control of Congress.
On a basic level, every state matters in the Senate, considering Republicans need to gain just a single seat to get to the majority. Each significant recruitment development (such as if GOP Gov. Chris Sununu challenges Democratic Sen. Maggie Hassan in New Hampshire) would instantly affect the handicapping of a race and the fight for control. But there are other states less dependent on a single candidate.
Every seat also matters in the House, where Republicans need a net gain of five seats for a majority — a paltry number in a body of 435 members and in the face of the midterm history, which favors the party out of the White House. And some states, such as Texas, are of particular importance to one of the chambers. But a handful of states are hosting competitive races that will affect control of both the House and the Senate.
The president and his vice-president promised to bring America together. So far they have done nothing but drive people further apart. They aren’t even trying to pretend otherwise anymore.