Not the famous song written by Hoagy Carmichael and Stuart Gorrell in 1930, made a hit by Ray Charles in 1960 and by Willie Nelson. No, I’m thinking, and profoundly troubled, by the Senate race in Georgia that will be decided in a few days. The choices for Georgia voters are Rev. Raphael Warnock and Herschel Walker. Remarkably, even for these times, if you believe in poll data, the race is a practical dead heat. How is this possible, Georgia?
Walker’s “biography” on his campaign website is comprised of 530 total words, of which 319, or 60 percent, are related to athletics achievements. As great as those may be, they are not qualifications for serving as one of 100 in the United States Senate, considered by some as one of the great deliberative bodies in the world of politics. In an apparent effort to beef up his resume, Walker also notes that he “performed in the Fort Worth Ballet [one time], competed on The Apprentice, and won the Celebrity Cook-Off on the Food Network.” All of those are the gimmicky stunts of celebrities but provide nothing in qualifications for dealing with the serious business of a U.S. Senator. It is astonishing that a serious candidate for the U.S. Senate would offer such nonsense to prove his worth.
If Walker and Warnock share any other experiences, it is that both were raised in difficult circumstances in the backwaters of Georgia. But there the similarities end. Walker’s bio says little about his childhood, but he makes much of the fact that he suffers from Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID) due to childhood traumas. This condition is described by the Cleveland Clinic this way:
People with DID have two or more separate identities. These personalities control their behavior at different times. Each identity has its own personal history, traits, likes and dislikes. DID can lead to gaps in memory and hallucinations (believing something is real when it isn’t).
Dissociative identity disorder used to be called multiple personality disorder or split personality disorder. [https://cle.clinic/3fyU7uw]
People afflicted with this disorder are certainly worthy of empathy and support, but whether they should serve in the Senate is another matter. Walker claims to have written a book about his life with DID, but it seems certain that the real writing was done by the others listed as co-authors of the book. Listening to Walker speak suggests he is incapable of writing the often-sophisticated text in Breaking Free: My Life with Dissociative Identity Disorder. [Note: I have only read excerpts from the book] It is admirable, if true, that Walker has devoted part of his adult life to helping others suffering with DID, but that is a slim reed on which to build a Senate-qualifying resume.
Some people may be offended by the idea that Walker’s mental health issues should be held against him in his quest for high political office. But those people would surely agree, I hope, that a person afflicted with, say, pathological lying disorder (see https://bit.ly/3DB1DNB; see also Donald J. Trump) should not be a U.S. Senator. But DID is far from the only issue with Hershel Walker so let’s not get too distracted (I am not referring to allegations related to abortions and related issues – I don’t know what the evidence shows and don’t consider it particularly relevant. The multiple lies/misrepresentations about achievements in his past are relevant, however, and very troubling).
Rev. Warnock grew up with a large family in public housing, had a mother who picked cotton and tobacco in the summer, yet managed to graduate from Morehouse College, earn a PhD and be ordained in the ministry. His brief biography notes that “For over 16 years, Senator Warnock has served as Senior Pastor at Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta, the former pulpit of Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. He is the youngest pastor selected to serve in that leadership role at the historic church.”
I have heard Warnock and can affirm that he is a gifted speaker, a man of serious thoughts and competent intellect. He was elected to the United States Senate in the January 5, 2021, in a special election runoff for the term ending January 3, 2023, to fill the vacancy caused by the resignation of Senator Johnny Isakson, a seat previously held by appointed (and disgraced) Senator Kelly Loeffler.
Senator Warnock serves on the Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry Committee; Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee; Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee, as well as the Special Committee on Aging and the Joint Economic Committee. In his short time in the Senate, Warnock has sponsored this legislation:
Affordable Electric Vehicles for America Act of 2022
Housing Market Transparency Act
Rent Relief Act of 2022
Building More Housing for Servicemembers Act
Increasing Home Ownership for Servicemembers Act
Capping Drug Costs for Seniors Act of 2022
Affordable Insulin Now Act
Farm to Base Food Security Act
Capping Prescription Costs Act of 2021
Improving Care for Veterans Act
Preventing Election Subversion Act of 2021
And many others.
Among the other stark differences with Walker, Warnock has experience in government. Walker has none, at any level. Walker was a gifted athlete, for sure. He has capitalized on his popularity as well as he can. Fine. Good for him. But can you imagine, after listening to him, that he could command the intellectual horsepower to deal with the array of complex legislative issues that Warnock has faced in his multiple committee assignments?
The question for Georgians is whether there is a remote possibility that Walker can function effectively in the cauldron that the Senate has become. Not a scintilla of evidence, suggests that he can. He will be manipulated by the Republican leadership that will see him as a willing supplicant for attention. He will embarrass himself and fail to represent Georgia in any meaningful way.
Worse yet, he will be unable to understand the complexity and seriousness of the issues that the Senate routinely faces. Anyone who has spent time, as I have, interacting with members of the Senate on complex legislative issues will know that this is no place for Herschel Walker. He cannot be successful for Georgia, and he cannot be successful for the United States. Senators, of course, represent their states, but they also bear allegiance to the country as a whole. Whatever Herschel Walker’s talents may be, he is completely unqualified to meet the challenges of being a U.S. Senator.
And, yes, I am aware that there are plenty of limited intellects serving in the Senate now. How will the United States be made better by adding another?
If you live in Georgia and haven’t voted yet, or have friends or family there who haven’t voted, you owe it to yourself and your country to vote on election day for the plainly superior candidate, the sitting Senator, Rev. Raphael Warnock. The fate of American democracy hangs on a precipice. Don’t contribute to its fall by electing Herschel Walker to the Senate.