Senator Warnock offers thoughts on midterms

Senator Warnock first began serving in the U.S. Senate following the 2020 run-off elections and is seeking a second term. // Photo courtesy of berkleycenter.georgetown.edu

Editor’s Note: The Technique reached out to Herschel Walker’s campaign but received no response. 

With early voting nearing its conclusion, the midterm elections are set to finish up with Election Day itself on Nov. 8. In recent years, Georgia has increasingly moved away from a deep red, Republican stronghold  and towards a purple swing state that plays a role in deciding the fate of national elections. This year, all eyes are on the gubernatorial race, with incumbent Governor Brian Kemp seeking a second term in a rematch with his opponent from 2018’s election cycle, Stacey Abrams, and the senate race, where incumbent Senator Raphael Warnock is being challenged by former football-star-turned-politician Herschel Walker. Both races hold outsized importance, and are regarded by many as a bellwether test on the nation’s feeling towards Democratic leadership over the past two years. Historically, the ruling party tends to lose political influence in all levels of government in midterm years, and polls point to a similar outcome. Republicans are expected to win control of the House of Representatives and are given break-even odds to take the Senate. Currently, Governor Kemp leads Abrams in the polls, while Senator Warnock holds a narrow single percentage point lead over Walker. The Technique was able to sit down and interview Senator Warnock about the upcoming election. 

Technique: What would you say are some of the things that keep you going on a day-to-day basis in the Senate? 

Senator Warnock: Just my deep love for service. My whole life and career has been committed to public service. You know, I started out in ministry. I didn’t set out to become an elected official and while I’m in politics, I’m not so much in love with politics as I am in love with change. And in a real sense, a lot of my passion and commitment to this work started when I was on the campus [at Morehouse College]. Walking beneath the shadow of Martin Luther King Jr.’s statue, with his finger pointing resolutely into the future, inspired me. And I wanted my life to count for something, and I haven’t lost that passion. So serving now as pastor of Ebenezer Baptist Church where the King preached, and now serving as a United States senator, enables me to do really important work that helps people and hardworking families. 

And for someone like me, who’s always wanted my life to count and always wanted to make a difference, this is a dream job because of the scale of change that I’m able to defect. You have a lot of fits and starts; you have a lot of days when you don’t get what you want. But when we accomplish something, the scale of that change is huge, like being able to cancel the debt of scores of students in Georgia. So, for somebody like me who’s in love with change, that’s what keeps me going and allows me to put up with some of the nonsense of Washington, D.C.

Technique: What would you say to any students that are feeling a little discouraged or disheartened by the current state of political rhetoric or just of the nation as a whole?

Senator Warnock: You know, I too have found myself from time to time, [a little discouraged], which is why we need young people because if you look at every great movement in our country, young people have always been at the center. Whatever it is, we need your idealism. We need your energy and passion, and quite frankly, we need your impatience. Young people are very often impatient with what they see, like, “Why can’t we have this or that,” and then folks say, “Just calm down.” I want to encourage that impatience. I want to cultivate it. But I want to see you channel it in such a way that it doesn’t cause you to give up because we need you to fight even more and say, “we won’t change.” I can’t control what other folks do in this space. What I’ve tried to do is focus on the work that I’m doing. And there’s a part of politics that is a contact sport — if you will — and you’re gonna get hit. It’s really not for the faint of heart, I’ll tell you that. To do this job is to be willing to put your whole life under a microscope and have people who don’t know you make judgments about what they think about a whole range of things. But again, for me, at the end of the day, it’s worth it because of the work, the change, that I’m able to affect. 

Technique: For students who are maybe on the fence, maybe considering voting for the first time, what would you have to say to them?

Senator Warnock: I would say to folks who are trying to figure out which way they’re going to vote, that there’s a sharp contrast between me and my opponent. I have spent my whole life dedicated to public service as a pastor and now, as a pastor who serves in the Senate. While in the Senate, I passed the single largest tax cut for middle and working class families in American history called the expanded Child Tax Credit. I’ve worked hard to bring jobs to our state infrastructure and helped pass a bipartisan infrastructure bill, which brings a lot of resources to our state for highways or bridges for broadband. 

We passed the Inflation Reduction Act, and I wrote that provision that caps the costs of prescription drugs. 

And I push the president to do meaningful student debt relief while at the same time, continuing to advocate for the kind of reforms that we need because the fact is, college tuition has been five times the rate of inflation for years now. And so we’ve got to get college costs under control. This is something I’ve actually thought about, and I’ve been working on [it] for years. If you want somebody who’s thinking about Georgia and here to actually help the people of Georgia, and not simply about who’s a Democrat and who’s a Republican, I’m listed as the 18th-most bipartisan senator in the Senate, which I think is quite a feat. 

I’m the most junior senator in the Senate, and yet I’ve managed to co-sponsor and enact so much legislation. In the Senate, I worked with the senator from Alabama to help Georgia farmers, I worked with the senator from Indiana to address the issue of dangerous railway crossings, I worked with Ted Cruz of Texas to extend what will be Interstate 14 through our state and I worked with Marco Rubio, with whom I disagree on the reproductive choice question, to address the issue of maternal mortality and too many women in our state dying while trying to have babies. I think we have the highest maternal mortality rate in the country, or near the highest, and for black women [it is] three to four times the rate of their white sisters, even when they have the income and the insurance. So I worked for all the people in Georgia, lowering their costs, bringing jobs all across our state and standing up for our students so that they can have a chance to win.

While early voting has nearly concluded, U.S. citizens can still vote in the election on Election Day, Nov. 8, at local polling places. Visit vote.org for more information on where and how to vote today.