The Jolt: ‘America First’ is ‘totally impossible,’ says Andrew Young

Former United States Ambassador Andrew Young poses for a portrait inside the Swan House at the Atlanta History Center in 2018. (ALYSSA POINTER/ALYSSA.POINTER@AJC.COM)

Credit: ALYSSA POINTER/ALYSSA.POINTER@AJ

Credit: ALYSSA POINTER/ALYSSA.POINTER@AJ

He never mentioned Donald Trump by name, nor Joe Biden. But late Thursday, a worried Andrew Young posted a YouTube video in which he urged viewers to turn away from the current president’s “America First” approach and back the nation’s re-engagement as a world leader.

Here’s how the former U.N. ambassador, Atlanta mayor, congressman and civil rights leader began:

“This is the first time in my 88 years that this planet has had to be confronted by four crises. I’ve always felt that crisis is also an opportunity, but this is more of an opportunity than I think we’re ready to handle. Except we don’t have any choice.”

-

All are intertwined, Young said. There is the COVID-19 crisis, which has spawned an economic crisis. Climate change is another. And there’s the race crisis. Said Young:

“It cannot be solved by one nation. ‘America First’ is totally impossible. You cannot have just America. America can be first, but America has to be the leader in solving these crises. You can’t bully the Chinese into obeying what we want. You can’t do that with the Nigerians. Or with the Indians, or with the Iranians. Or with the Koreans or Japanese.

“We are the only nation with all of these national resources as part of the United States of America. So if anybody is going to solve the problems of these four extremely dangerous and volatile crises, it’s going to have to be this present generation. And the leadership of that generation is going to be decided in November of 2020.

“Now, if you can’t bully, and …no one man’s instincts are going to be sufficient to deal with the problems of the world, you’ve got to have a chief executive officer of the planet – someone that is calm, and cool, and reflective. And who knows that he does not know, and seeks the best minds in every field, in every nation. And finds a way to organize them and put them to work.

“We don’t have much time on that. Politics is almost always behind science and business and morality. And spirituality. There is more of a spiritual vision – not only of one nation under God, but of one planet under God. ‘This is my father’s world.’ It does not belong to any single nation.”

-

It’s food for thought on a long Labor Day weekend. Click here for the video, or watch below:

***

The campaign of Kevin Van Ausdal, the Democratic candidate in the 14th District congressional contest, has pointed us to a video of an Aug. 29 GOP gathering in which his GOP rival, Marjorie Taylor Greene, says that the nation is in “the first stage” of a “civil war.”

Among those on the stage of a 14th District Republican rally in Rome were state Rep. Katie Dempsey of Rome, and Lauren “Bubba” McDonald, a member of the state Public Service Commission. Said Greene, via her own Facebook page:

‘We’re in a bad place right now. We’re in a bad place. And I think we’re failing. We’re failing our kids, because -- when we see a news story where a 17 year old teenager named Kyle Rittenhouse Is compelled to go out in the streets with an AR-15 because he is afraid for his community and the destruction that is happening there, and businesses are being looted and burned.

“And he’s afraid for his future, that he feels the need to go out on the streets with an AR-15. That means we’ve entered a civil war. That’s the first stage. And I as the mother of a 17-year-old son, I never want my son to feel like he has to go out there and to that. It’s our responsibility.”

-

Our AJC colleague Alan Judd uses the Rome rally as a jumping off point for a closer look at Greene’s origins and her appeal to the fringes of American politics.

Here is a quick rundown of some of the most controversial and baseless theories she has repeated:

Greene has repeatedly echoed QAnon doctrine, hurling wild accusations at “elites” who stand in Trump’s way.

She alleged that former President Barack Obama used “henchmen” from the MS-13 street gang to murder a Democratic National Committee staff member who supposedly provided damning emails to WikiLeaks ahead of the 2016 election. (“Yes,” Greene said of Obama in one video, “I do believe he is a Muslim.”)

She suggested that former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and other prominent Democrats would be jailed for participating in pedophilia and human sacrifice.

She accused House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of treason — a crime that, as Greene noted, may be punished by death.

She also questioned whether an airplane actually crashed into the Pentagon during the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001; described prominent Jews as “puppet masters” who finance “global evil”; and spoke about preserving Confederate monuments and “our nation’s purity.”

-

***

Beyond being dangerous affronts to democracy, President Donald Trump’s escalating attacks on voting by mail are also bafflingly contradictory.

He votes by mail but he repeatedly issues baseless claims about the practice, setting the stage to undermine the election results if he loses to Joe Biden in November.

Former President Jimmy Carter, whose Atlanta-based Carter Center has long specialized in monitoring elections, has seen enough. He issued a blunt statement last night with his views on mail-in votes.

“I approve the use of absentee ballots,” the Plains native said, “and have been using them for more than five years.”

His spokeswoman noted that he earlier endorsed mail-in voting in a May statement that echoed the findings of the bipartisan Commission on Federal Election Reform in 2005.

Carter’s comments came shortly after Attorney General William Barr referenced the report, which Carter co-chaired with former Secretary of State James Baker in 2005, to cast doubt on mail-in-voting.

The commission concluded that “mail-in voting is fraught with the risk of fraud and coercion,” Barr said in a Wednesday interview on CNN.

Citing the 2005 report, the center said voting-by-mail “creates increased logistical challenges and the potential for vote fraud” but that when safeguards are in place and candidates and party workers are barred from handling mail-in or absentee ballots “there was little evidence of voter fraud.”

What’s more, the Carter Center — which has monitored more than 100 foreign elections since 1989 — recently said it will ask, for the first time, that U.S. election officials allow observers to watch this year’s presidential voting.

***

We promised an eventful week on the U.S. Senate campaign trail in Georgia. And the candidates delivered.

Thursday brought a whirlwind of news. There was House Speaker David Ralston’s formal endorsement of U.S. Rep. Doug Collins, further deepening a rift with Brian Kemp that could shape the rest of the governor’s four-year term in office.

Previous endorsements of Collins, a four-term congressman, sparked little reaction from U.S. Sen. Kelly Loeffler’s campaign. This one triggered a damning condemnation that surprised even some of the senator’s supporters.

Loeffler spokesman Stephen Lawson called Ralston a “career politician and criminal defense lawyer who abused his power” -- a reference to an AJC investigation - and said “both are political insiders who care more about their taxpayer-funded paycheck and politics than public safety and service.

It’s hard to see their two camps mending those fences, already eroded after years of mistrust.

Later Thursday, Loeffler got something of a gift while she was stumping in Cumming with U.S. Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark.

Triana Arnold James, a Democrat who lost a longshot campaign for lieutenant governor two years ago and is reviled by many in her party, showed up with another protester to interrupt Loeffler’s speech with chants of “Black Lives Matter.”

Loeffler, of course, has made her opposition to the movement for social justice a cornerstone of her campaign, and some of her allies believe it’s a key reason for her rising poll numbers.

Conservative media and pundits immediately amplified video of the interlude, with some proclaiming it as an example of the intransigence of leftists encouraging rioting and disorder.

Loeffler’s camp was ecstatic. “The gift that keeps on giving,” one texted our way.

***

Another development that could factor into the closing days of the race came via email late Thursday.

The NRA rated U.S. Sen. Kelly Loeffler’s record an “A.” It gave U.S. Rep. Doug Collins an “A+” -- allowing him to say he outranked her with the nation’s preeminent Second Amendment group.

“I’m a Trooper’s kid. I learned how to shoot before I learned how to ride a bike,” he said at a recent campaign stop in Gainesville. “Gun control, to me, is hitting what you’re shooting at.”

Our readers certainly recall how the NRA factored into the last statewide race.

The group endorsed Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle over Brian Kemp after he promised to “kill” any legislation that would benefit Delta Air Lines when it cut ties with the gun rights group.

***

Politifact ruled that U.S. Sen. David Perdue falsely claimed that he supports a policy that “health insurance should always cover preexisting conditions. For anyone. Period.”

Says the fact-checking outlet:

That is a sweeping policy — guaranteed coverage for anyone, with no penalty for a preexisting condition.

If that’s Perdue’s position now, it doesn’t jibe with his record as a lawmaker.

He’s voted to repeal the Affordable Care Act — Obamacare — and a bill he cosponsored to guarantee coverage fails to match the ironclad protections under that law.

***

Four years ago, Georgia Republicans swiftly tried to distance themselves from President Donald Trump when his sexist or incendiary remarks came to light.

In 2020, some of the top contenders are embracing them.

The latest example came late Thursday when several outlets matched The Atlantic’s report that Trump disparaged the intelligence of military members, calling them “losers” and “suckers.”

In a Twitter post, Republican Senate candidate Doug Collins, a four-term congressman, amplified the article and wrote: “The left wing media is a greater threat to our democracy than any foreign nation could ever dream.”

The strategy isn’t hard to decipher. He wants no daylight between him and the president in his battle against U.S. Sen. Kelly Loeffler, a race for the core GOP vote in the November special election.

****

Stacey Abrams and former New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landreiu are embarking on a “virtual bus tour” in various states to push residents to complete their U.S. Census forms.

The “Census in the South: Road to Recovery” tour represents a partnership between Abrams’ Fair Count organization and Landreiu’s E Pluribus Unum and targets people living in Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Florida, Georgia and South Carolina with various events throughout the month.

According to the event website, just 59.9% of Georgia’s had self completed the census as of Aug. 26.

***

GOP congressional candidate Rich McCormick’s financial disclosure form contained errors that were recently discovered by a potential constituent who filed a complaint with the House Ethics Committee, one of your Insiders reports.

McCormick’s campaign admitted to the mistakes, including a clerical blunder that resulted in a tenfold overstatement of his U.S. Navy salary: It’s listed as $1.3 million instead of $130,000.

The attorney who filed the complaint also pointed out that McCormick listed no assets in his 2019 form, but by the time he filed his report he had given his campaign $300,000. He later would loan it an additional $247,000.

The McCormick campaign said none of the errors were intentional but rather the result of a novice candidate who didn’t yet have the resources or staff to assist with these tasks.

About the Authors