Lisa Ring has her political future on Joe Biden knotted. That sounds dramatic, but the calculation is actually very simple: if he wins, she continues. At least she wants to keep it open to try again. If Donald Trump wins, it’s probably over, then she wants to stop and withdraw from politics. Then, she thinks, it would be even more difficult as a candidate.
Lisa Ring is a Georgia Democrat. She lives in the rural southwest of the state, in Bryan County. The 53-year-old activist belongs to the progressive wing of the party. She says of Joe Biden as a Trump challenger: “In a perfect world, he’s not my first choice.”
In 2018, when a record number of women ran for political office in America, she too ran to join the Washington House of Representatives. In the end she got a respectable result, but had no chance against the Republican incumbent in a traditionally conservative constituency. This year she had wanted to try again. Same constituency, new opportunity. In the party’s internal primary for the candidacy, she won the most votes in the summer, but had to go to a runoff. She surprisingly lost it two months ago to a candidate from the center of the party. Was their politics too left?
Republicans could rely on Georgia for decades. The conservative population gave the party (with a few notable exceptions) one election victory after another. That was not always the case, however. Shortly before and then until almost 100 years after the Civil War, the state was firmly in Democratic hands – until the Civil Rights Act of 1964 strengthened the civil rights movement and Republicans turned to conservative Democrats with racist resentment in order to increase their base electorate in the southern states. Now, according to recent polls, it looks like it Donald Trump could lose the state to Joe Biden on Tuesday. Georgia’s change over the centuries also tells where the country is and where the country is headed.
Lisa Ring doesn’t believe that she was too left-wing for voters in Georgia and that she put too much on them in terms of content. Sitting in front of a chain of coffeehouses on the edge of a parking lot next to a shopping mall in the suburbs of Savannah, she lists her main election campaign topics: uniform citizens’ insurance, higher minimum wages, environmental protection, strengthening LGBTQ rights and gender equality. It didn’t fail because of Georgia. Rather, and she sees this as a trend for the Democrats at the national level as well as at the local level, the party would have changed: “In 2018 it was advantageous for the Democratic Party to claim that it was progressive and would take on these issues to attract new groups of voters open up. “
In the meantime, the left within the party has been insulted as socialists, which is still an established political term in America. “The Democrats decided last year that the progressive approach wasn’t working for them. So they turned to disappointed Republicans who might want to vote for Joe Biden instead of Donald Trump, ”says Lisa Ring. “You betrayed the progressive values in order to become more attractive as a party for conservative voters.” For Ring, this is all simply a question of maintaining power: it was like the left Bernie Sanderswho could not prevail in the primaries against centrist Joe Biden because the former Vice President was seen as more promising in the race for the White House. So the party pitched its content in the middle of society instead of relying on new, fresh ideas on the left.