A roundish, middle-aged White man with gray hair streaked with white, walks briskly to the podium. He fiddles with the mike some and then, you hear it. An almost imperceptible sigh, like a whisper. It speaks volumes of the anger, frustration, and fear that Gabriel Sterling feels. Then, he begins to speak.
In a video taken during a press conference on Tuesday, Sterling, Georgia’s Voting System Implementation Manager vented. Sterling is a Republican official who says, he is “doing his best to keep it together.” He’s doing this amid the threats of violence, intimidation, and lies of Donald Trump and his allies. Calling them out, Gabriel Sterling of Georgia is shaming Republicans for their silence.
As he speaks, I’m reminded of Gary Cooper’s character as the sheriff in “High Noon.” He knows the bad guys are coming in on the noon train. He knows he’s too old to fight them alone. But, resigned to his fate, the sheriff goes door to door, into the saloon, anywhere to get help. But, when it’s all said and done, he’s alone. So, the sheriff takes on the bad guys without any backup.
Sterling spoke directly to the president during the press conference. “You have not condemned these actions or this language. Senators, you have not condemned this language or these actions. This has to stop.”
As Sterling spoke, you could hear a pin drop. The white-bearded sign language interpreter frantically signing to emphasize each point, looking like a dapper monk, dressed in black. Most specifically, Sterling was outraged over the death threats against a young voting machine systems contractor. Sterling said, the 20-year-old was only “transferring reports on (ballot) batches…just trying to do his job.”
Has it really come to this? In America, the president, Republican members of Congress, and local Republican officials are stoking this kind of hate? This is beyond politics. This is a deep-seated sickness that can’t be explained away as simply “White grievance.”
I imagine that many of Trump’s allies who are keeping the myth of his so-called “win” going are Evangelical Christians. If true, at what point, does it kick in that these calls to harm others are dangerous, unpatriotic, and un-Christ-like? How will these groups justify their mob mentality when they look back in time? More importantly, what justification will they give for selling their very souls to the devil himself — Donald J. Trump?
In the meantime, Trump’s minions are now depressing their own vote in Georgia’s upcoming Senate elections. This vote is turning out to be just as critical as the presidential election. With two seats at play, if the Democrats win, this will deliver the majority that Biden needs to turn his plans into reality.
I can just see Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Minority Leader Chuck Schumer rubbing their hands with glee. Cheered on by co-conspiracy theorist attorneys Sidney Powell and L. Lin Wood, Georgia’s Republicans are urged to sit out the election. At a press conference-turned-rally on Wednesday, Wood said, “We’re not going to vote on your damned machines made in China.” In other words, once a “rigged” election, always a rigged election. This must be causing Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell to pull the thin hair out of his head by the handfuls.
Georgia lawmakers are also up in arms with the idea that Republicans could be the architects of their own disaster. As NPR reported, “On Wednesday, a group of 19 prominent Georgia Republicans — among them former Gov. Nathan Deal and two former U.S. senators, Saxby Chambliss and Johnny Isakson — issued an open letter warning that the focus on fraud allegations could “detract” from the runoffs, which will determine which party controls the U.S. Senate.”
Gabriel Sterling knows he has some tough days ahead with the upcoming election. But, to many Americans, watching from the sidelines, Sterling’s voice is that of “the canary in the coal mine.” How much will speaking truth to power cost him?
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