In going through Navy Officer Candidate School more than a half century ago, and during my three and a half years on active duty, leadership was pounded into us, academically and by example. In any discussion that the subject comes up, I never hesitate to say that the finest leaders I ever met, served under, served with, or observed from a distance, were officers of the U.S. Navy.
One of the defining characteristics of good leadership is loyalty. Loyalty, as we were taught, is both up and down. Leaders at the top should expect it from their subordinates, and their subordinates should expect it from the top. An efficient and well run military unit, organization, or enterprise of any sort will almost certainly find loyalty as one of the common threads that make it a success, that explain why morale is high.
Currently, the Republican Party in Georgia, but also nationally, is experiencing what some might call a crisis. President Donald Trump maintains he won the recent presidential election by a “landslide” despite some sixty court decisions going against him, and despite leaders of his own party who have acknowledged that Joe Biden is the President-elect.
In 2018, Trump endorsed Republican candidate for governor Brian Kemp. Whether that endorsement carried Kemp over-the-top ---an underdog in the beginning--- is debatable, but Trump has claimed credit for it. For a period of time, and to some extent even now, Kemp was a true Trump loyalist. When Senator Johnny Isakson (R-GA) resigned at the end of 2019 for health reasons, it fell upon Kemp to appoint Isakson’s replacement.
After Kemp decided on Kelly Loeffler, but before he went public with his choice, Kemp and Loeffler flew to Washington to meet with Trump so that Trump would hear it first from him knowing that Trump favored then Congressman Doug Collins (R-GA). Collins had vigorously and vociferously defended Trump during the impeachment proceedings.
Kemp failed to win Trump over, and Trump expressed his disappointment with Kemp for not going with Collins. After that the relationship between the president and governor disintegrated. Trump took every opportunity to blast or otherwise publicly demean and humiliate Kemp relating to how Kemp was handling the pandemic in Georgia, to Kemp’s later standing by the election results in Georgia that had Biden win by some 12,000 votes. Most recently, Trump demanded that Kemp resign because Kemp has continued to refuse to overturn the election results despite Kemp’s repeated argument that he does not have the power under the Georgia Constitution to do it.
Meanwhile, Senator Loeffler, Kemp’s appointee to the U.S. Senate, has not spoken a word in defense of her benefactor, Brian Kemp. During the past year while Kemp has taken a public beating from Trump, Loeffler’s silence to speak up for Kemp has been deafening. Loeffler campaigns on the promise of looking out for all Georgians, for being concerned with their problems, and that she is the most dedicated, one hundred percent loyal Trump supporter, never mind that her support might go against Georgians’ interests. If Loeffler wins the special run-off election on Tuesday, January 5th, she has to run again in 2022 to compete for her own six year term. I wonder if Kemp will be spending more time with his family when that happens.
Trump will be making a final campaign appearance in Georgia on Monday evening, January 4th. Kemp has not been invited to join him. Even though I didn’t vote for Kemp, whom I have a number of policy differences with, he is a decent man overall despite any number of flaws that as a human being we would all prefer not to highlight because of our own. He has not countered with any personal attacks against Trump, and he tries to spin his words in a way that sound like support of Trump. I have to believe that come January 20th, Kemp will be glad to see what will likely be the last of Trump in his life.
As for Loeffler, I am reminded of one of John F. Kennedy’s favorite quotes, that “the hottest places in Hell are reserved for those who in time of moral crisis preserve their neutrality.” Hopefully both Georgians and fellow Republicans will know Loeffler better by her fruits, and bid good riddance to her either now or in 2022.
Republicans in Georgia are aligning with Trump or Kemp. Other Republicans are so sure that Trump was defrauded of victory that they plan to stay home and not vote in the runoff. Some Republicans have turned on Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell for recognizing Biden as the incoming president, but also because McConnell has urged his fellow Republican senators not to disrupt the final Electoral College tally, a formality, on January 6th.
It is laughable to consider that there are actually Republicans who consider McConnell a traitor, a Republican who has carried the Party’s water to the Nth degree, who represents about everything the modern day Republican Party stands for and supports. One wonders who they would replace McConnell with. I think it’s safe to say it won’t be Vice President Mike Pence in light of Pence asking a federal court to toss the lawsuit that would allow Pence to override an 1887 law and actually reject the results of the Electoral College on January 6th.
In any relationship ranging from marriage, to friendship, to fellow employees, et al, there will never be total agreement on everything. If two or more people can agree on eighty percent, in my opinion that is a solid relationship. Disagreement can be good as it condenses differences and hopefully brings people closer to truths.
Republicans have allowed Donald Trump to divide them. The results of the January 5th runoff could portend what the Party’s immediate future will hold. My guess is that while Trump will hold on to his base after he is gone, mainstream Republicans will marginalize him and look for new leadership that understands the meaning of loyalty. Already several Republicans are lining up support for their 2024 presidential candidacy.
To paraphrase from the words of the song, “Mrs. Robinson”, “Where have you gone, Joe DiMaggio? Our ‘Party’ turns its lonely eyes to you” for leadership.