Opinion: Ga. GOP can’t win by looking back

Convention Chairman Randy Evans presides over the second day of the 2021 Georgia Republican State Convention. Nathan Posner for The Atlanta Journal Constitution.
Convention Chairman Randy Evans presides over the second day of the 2021 Georgia Republican State Convention. Nathan Posner for The Atlanta Journal Constitution.

The Republican Party in Georgia is eating itself from the inside out over election controversy in 2020. How can we expect to win if we refuse to move forward?

“However [political parties] may now and then answer popular ends, they are likely in the course of time and things, to become potent engines, by which cunning, ambitious, and unprincipled men will be enabled to subvert the power of the people and to usurp for themselves the reins of government ... .”

We’ve all heard this quote in some form from President George Washington’s 1797 farewell address regarding the dangers of political parties. Washington’s success was born in the most uncertain time in American history. The newly formed union, under his command, had just defeated the most powerful empire in the history of the world.

If he had failed, he would’ve faced certain death for treason. I can only imagine that Washington’s sleep many nights during the Revolutionary War was interrupted by nightmares of Red Coats erecting his gallows on the banks of the Potomac. Washington’s dreams of a more perfect union, however, surely outweighed the nightmares of his almost-certain death.

We often look to Washington to guide us today. The 22nd Amendment to the Constitution exists purely because Washington refused to run for a third term. The reason that our head of state is called president instead of king is because Washington refused to have the title of King George. As a framer of the Constitution, the Supreme Court of the United States looks toward words that Washington and others wrote to decide the legality of our laws nearly 250 years later.

I am not here, however, to give you a history lesson. I am here to give you a warning.

I met Georgia Attorney General Chris Carr sometime in 2018 at the Cook County Airport. I was 18 years old, with less than $100 in my checking account, a full-time college student, and had absolutely nothing to offer him other than my vote. He treated me with dignity and respect, despite knowing that I would be leaving without signing a check. I gladly gave him my vote. I would do it again.

Austin Futch
Austin Futch

Credit: contributed

Credit: contributed

Friday afternoon, I sat in a room with thousands of other Republicans as the attorney general took the stage at the Georgia State Republican Convention. He was met with boos, and even those who turned their back on him as he spoke. Literally, turned their backs. At this moment, I was more concerned for the Republican Party than I had ever been.

I don’t exactly remember the first time I met Gov. Brian Kemp, but I suspect that it was during his first term as secretary of state. I have been at several events with him, and he always takes the time to have a conversation with me. He treats everyone I have ever seen him interact with, with the utmost respect. That is unique for someone in his position. I have nothing but respect for him, so it was incredibly difficult and uncomfortable to have to sit in a room with my fellow delegates while he was booed just minutes after Vernon Jones received a standing ovation.

The Republican Party in Georgia is eating itself from the inside out over election controversy in 2020. How can we expect to win in 2022, 2024, and on into the future if we refuse to move forward? The issue at hand is not believing in the legitimacy of the 2020 election. The issue is the lack of willingness to move forward and accept the results.

At this point, nothing will change. Joe Biden is the president of the United States and will likely remain in office until noon on Jan. 20, 2025. If Republicans refuse to unite behind Republican candidates and stop tearing the party apart, Joe Biden will be sworn in again on this day. Even worse, proven conservatives like Brian Kemp will surely lose to RINO’s like Vernon Jones, or worse, to Stacey Abrams.

The Republican Party, and conservative values, are in danger in Georgia. The only way to regain a foothold in this state is to unite behind morals and leave the former president in the past. Gov. Kemp, Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, and Attorney General Carr followed the law. They did what they could. Georgia should be proud to have a team of leaders that are willing to stand up to the president of the United States, knowing that they are risking their careers, and still do the right thing.

I have had the privilege to be involved in Georgia politics for quite some time, and most recently worked under the Gold Dome. When asked of me, “how did you deal with all of the division day-to-day” I replied, “As soon as you walk through the doors, you’re all on the same team. You all want the same thing, what’s best for Georgia. We just tend to have different ways to get there. You have to keep that in mind.” That is still how I feel, even following the 2021 state Republican Party convention, despite how difficult it proved for me to sit in the room at times. I fear, though, that it won’t be like that for long.

Washington’s warning at the time applied to a much-simpler nation. A nation that spanned only one seaboard. Ridding ourselves of political parties is impossible, but two parties is better than three. Let me remind you, the two parties are vital in a competitive democracy.

If this continues, Republicans are in danger of never holding a partisan office again. Unification, currently, is more important than anything. If we’re divided, we’re losing. If we’re losing, we’re in trouble. I fear that the Republican Party’s days are numbered if those like me don’t stand up. To borrow from an anecdote that Ambassador Randy Evans used whilst chairing the 2021 convention, I am afraid that we can’t see the light that mama left on on the porch because we are still in the woods. We’re in the woods hunting for someone to persecute for voter apathy.

Republicans must unite and support our statewide officials. Following the primaries, if we don’t stand together, we will fall apart.

Austin Futch is chairman of the Ben Hill County Republican Party and 3rd Vice Chair of the 8th District Republican Party. At 21 years old, he is the youngest chairman and member of an district executive committee in the state.

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