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Elections

The GOP’s Lunatic 2022 Playbook Is Already Here

David Perdue's campaign announcement video features all of the stupid and crazy things Republicans will be saying for the next year.

david perdue governor
David Perdue

Former Georgia Sen. David Perdue announced on Monday morning that he’s challenging incumbent Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp in the state’s 2022 Republican gubernatorial primary. The winner will almost certainly take on Democrat Stacey Abrams, who has also announced a 2022 run.

Perdue is doing this exclusively because Donald Trump doesn’t like Brian Kemp, whom he blames for failing to steal the 2020 election for him. (Kemp apparently decided that stealing elections is a gift he only gives to himself and not to others.) Mounting a gajillion-dollar political campaign because my friend doesn’t like someone is not something I would do, but everyone is different.

Normally, I’d let this float on by—what is this, Politico???—but Perdue’s announcement video made me sit up, because it felt so emblematic of the exact space that Republicans are going to try to play in over the next year, especially in the wake of Glenn Youngkin’s victory in Virginia.

The playbook, which we are almost certainly going to see repeated over and over and over again over the next 12 months, roughly boils down to this: bland imagery coupled with statements of outstanding, thuddingly familiar lunacy. 

Perdue is wearing a non-threatening pull-up sweater, and is positioned against a bright, gauzy background, because he’s just another suburban dad. He loves his kids! And his wife! And, er, extreme financial corruption! He’s not a witch, he’s you

The soothing tone, however, is paired with escalating nonsense. The weirdest part is when Perdue says this (emphasis mine):

To fight back, we simply have to be united. Unfortunately, today, we are divided, and Brian Kemp and Brad Raffensperger are to blame. Look, I like Brian, this isn’t personal. It’s simple. He has failed all of us and cannot win in November. Instead of protecting our elections, he caved to Abrams and cost us two Senate seats, the Senate majority, and gave Joe Biden free rein.

Buddy…you cost Georgia one of those Senate seats! It was literally less than a year ago, and you were on the ballot, and you lost! The implication here, I guess, is that Perdue only lost because Kemp didn’t steal the presidential election, which led to Trump going to Georgia and yelling about how the Senate runoff in which Perdue ran was “illegal,” which led to Perdue losing. So by that logic, Kemp is to blame for Trump losing his mind?

You know what, I shouldn’t be trying to do logic here. Why bother? That is the GOP standard now: either steal every single election ever held or get lost. Perdue also pledges, “Over my dead body will we ever give Stacey Abrams control of our elections again.” This overlooks the fact that Stacey Abrams (who is, in this video, spoken of in roughly the same tones as Satan, hmm I wonder why) has never been in control of Georgia’s elections—maybe she would have won her 2018 race if she had been???—but never mind.

The rest of the video is a cocktail of the GOP’s current grievances, like railing against vaccine mandates and pledging to “put parents in charge of schools” instead of the “woke left,” which gets two mentions. It’s dull and predictable and it all screams “I want to do Virginia here!!!” The parents thing, in particular, is already being farmed out across the country. Here’s Geoff Diehl, the Trump-endorsed gubernatorial candidate who just drove incumbent Gov. Charlie Baker out of the 2022 race despite Baker being the second-most popular governor in America:

Ah, “parental rights,” that’s what they’re calling it these days.

This is the playbook: boring visuals hiding vast and crooked wealth, stock phrases about cancel culture, “vaccines are tyranny” bullshit, only votes for Republicans count, and a wholehearted embrace of every stupid conspiracy theory off the menu. We will see Republicans doing this up and down the ballot in state after state after state. It will get very tiring and make people feel completely crazy. And it will probably work really well.