Right now, the Republican Party is divided. There have been divisions in the past, the Tea Party perhaps being the most recent evidence of that, but the current division is even more basic than ideology. The current division is centered on loyalty, specifically loyalty to the Republican president occupying the White House.
That division is illustrated perfectly by the stances of Georgia’s two Republican senators, Johnny Isakson and David Perdue. After the president’s reported remarks calling Haiti, El Salvador, and African countries “shithole countries,” both Isakson and Perdue staked out their respective positions.
Isakson made the following statement: “I did not hear it, but if it’s true, he owes the people of Haiti and all mankind an apology. That is not the kind of statement the leader of the free world ought to make, and he ought to be ashamed of himself. If he did not make it, he needs to corroborate the fact and prove it and then move forward.”
Perdue, on the other hand, said the following in an interview: “I am telling you that he did not use those words.” Unlike Isakson, Perdue was present in the meeting. In that same interview, he repeatedly used the phrase “gross misrepresentation” to describe the reported remarks, which some have suggested may be a much weaker defense than initially thought.
The larger point is that Isakson is willing to take the president to task, despite residing on the same side of the aisle, whereas Perdue has chosen loyalty to the president at each opportunity that arises. In a way, Georgia gets to have its cake and eat it too – Isakson gives voice to the Georgians who disapprove of the president and Perdue gives voice to those who are still satisfied with his performance. Additionally, Perdue’s choice all but guarantees both he and the State of Georgia will have a seat at the table when decisions are made which could impact our state.
For a president who values loyalty above all else, there is great value in having someone like Perdue who chooses to stay by his side through thick and thin. Some constituents may not like it or approve of it, but if Perdue can use his relationship with the president to achieve results for Georgia, we probably should try not to complain too much.