Sadly, The Only Winner in Georgia's Special Election Is Hyper-Partisanship
There is one message that voters are getting in Georgia's 6th Congressional District (and elections across the country): Be angry.
Reports ahead of Tuesday's election show a 150 percent increase in early voter turnout. That is impressive, but many are attributing this turnout to people coming out in anger. It is anger at Donald Trump or anger at outside Democrats trying to influence the election.
Either way, this election has been about tapping into people's fury and even exacerbating it.
Nowhere was this more evident than the TV ad that aired in the district linking Democratic candidate Jon Ossoff to last Wednesday's shooting at a Republican baseball practice in Alexandria, Virginia.
"The unhinged left is endorsing and applauding shooting Republicans," the ad begins. "When will it stop? It won't if Jon Ossoff wins."
The ad was paid for by the Principled Leadership Project PAC, and has been condemned by both Republican candidate Karen Handel's campaign and Ossoff's campaign.
According to the Washington Examiner, the PAC is not backing down from its ad.
"Wednesday's shooting, in stark contrast to a random act of violence, was a political assassination attempt driven by the left's rabid, unhinged rhetoric, so Americans should take a hard look at the ramifications of politically motivated violence," said conservative campaign consultant Noel Fritsch in an email.
The irony is that this response is no different than the hyper-partisan, polarizing rhetoric coming from the other side. It is designed to get people angry, which can lead to disaster with troubled minds.
And it is not just Republicans or conservatives. Democrats and political opponents of President Donald Trump have made special elections for congressional seats vacated by Trump cabinet members about the president and his policies -- not the congressional district, not the issues facing voters, not even about the candidates actually running in the election.
Jon Ossoff kicked off his campaign with the slogan, "Make Trump Furious." (Even Ossoff shows that this race is about making people angry.) Democrats and political opponents of the president have rallied people outside the district to support Ossoff financially with calls to "Stop Trump" and "Resist."
But Jon Ossoff is not running against Donald Trump. He is running against Republican Karen Handel. He is running to represent the people of Georgia's 6th District. He is running to represent their needs.
Sadly for the voters, this has been forgotten.
With the record-breaking money poured into the race and unprecedentedly high media attention for a special congressional election, it is no surprise that the bar was set high, and as a result voter interest peaked.
Over 140,000 voters reportedly voted in the early voting period, including tens of thousands who didn't vote in the primary. This sent shockwaves among pollsters and analysts, and some estimates even suggest that a special election that typically would have incredibly low turnout may beat the 2014 midterm general election.
Unfortunately, the ultimate winner of this election will not be the voters of Georgia's 6th Congressional District. It will be the hyper-partisan interests that have kept this race about everything but them and their needs.