Greg Bluestein speaks at Flax Lecture Series

Bluestein delivers his lecture on Georgia’s role as a rising political juggernaut. Discussion around contentious state and nationwide elections and the pending election fraud trial were at the center of the evening. // Photo Tyler Parker Student Publications

Last Thursday’s flash flood did not deter Jackets from attending the Meg and Sam Flax lecture series featuring Greg Bluestein of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

Bluestein’s installment titled, “Why Georgia is the Most Pivotal Battleground State This Decade” took place in the Bill Moore Student Success Center’s Clary theater from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m.

“There is a small but very influential group of voters, many of them are in the metro-Atlanta suburbs, many of them scattered throughout the rest of the state who were willing to split their ticket … and they decided the outcome of the [presidential] election, the 2021 [U.S senate special] election and the 2022 [Georgia gubernatorial] election,” Bluestein said.

According to Bluestein, it is this core of voters that has turned the once solidly Republican state into a battleground.

“The beauty of where we are, is that every Republican and most Democrats say there’s really no path to victory for any republican [presidential] candidate without winning Georgia,” Bluestein said.

Bluestein cited the stark contrast between Georgia’s 2022 gubernatorial election that saw Republican Brian Kemp emerge victorious over Democrat Stacey Abrams, and the following senate run-off that saw Republican Hershel Walker defeated by Democrat Raphael Warnock less than a year later, as evidence of this split.

“Whether you like it or not, we’re about to be in the center of national attention even more so than we already are,” Bluestein said, referencing former president Donald Trump’s endorsements of then-candidates Walker and Kemp.

Bluestein listed three Georgia republicans — Burt Jones, Kelly Loeffler and Chris Carr and three Georgia democrats — Jason Carter, Stacey Abrams and Lucy McBath, as rising stars to keep in sight. He attributed much of this change to a unique shift in demographics.

“Atlanta is about half the state’s population … and its suburbs aren’t this uniformly white, conservative area that they used to be. They’re diverse … they’re not easy to stereotype anymore,” Bluestein said.

Despite the many uncertainties of Georgia’s political future, Bluestein listed the Trump election fraud indictments as an issue candidates will have to take a public stance on.

Bluestein’s word of direct advice to voters is to “pay attention … pay attention so you’re informed. Try to go see politicians up close and personal because they’re coming. We have this unique opportunity because we’re not a forgotten state anymore.”

This most recent installment of the Flax lecture series carried on the torch of “diverse perspectives on the proper role(s) of government in solving crucial problems.”

Series donor Samuel (Sam) Flax, IE ‘78 spoke on his motivations behind the series, which began in 2019.

“I wanted to give something back to the Institute … something related to the educational aspect,” Flax said, in reference to his 40th reunion. He noted a growing anti-government feeling that could be seen in “the MAGA folks.”

Flax described his desire to find a middle ground amidst such political apathy and cynicism.

“There are a lot of problems with the government, you can make fun of a lot of government, but I’m a believer that government has a lot of good to do,” Flax said.

Ultimately, he decided his response would be, “a lecture series focused on Public Policy with a positive tilt on what the government could do.”

Since then, the series has hosted lecturers from around the country to speak on topics ranging from government intervention during a global pandemic to community-based design practices for health equity, many of which work to bridge the gap between STEM and liberal arts at the Institute.