Herschel Walker’s Senate race reveals how the culture war can backfire – Chicago Tribune

It’s easy for others to meet your expectations, if you set your standards low enough.

That appears to be the running theme of the closely watched Senate race in Georgia between Democratic Sen. Raphael Warnock and his Republican challenger Hershel Walker, a former pro football star and Heisman Trophy winner.

In a race that could decide whether Democrats retain control of the Senate, Walker started off looking pretty good for a political buff. The former University of Georgia star won the state’s Republican primary with 68% of the vote and plenty of goodwill.

Although he admitted he didn’t know much about politics, he had often spoken of “family values”, repeatedly criticizing fatherless homes in the black community. In a 2020 interview with conservative activist Charlie Kirk, for example, he called the absence of fathers a “major, major problem” in black households and bragged about being “like a father” to many young people from his hometown of Georgia.

Indeed, the absence of fathers is a major problem and not just in black households. Unfortunately, as I have said and written many times, too many people cite this reality as a form of signaling virtue and shifting responsibility instead of a serious discussion about how we can build stronger families. .

Luckily, Walker has apparently taken steps to help his children, although he hasn’t been outspoken about how many he has.

Besides her 22-year-old son Christian, who has become a widely known conservative influencer in the TikTok crowd, The Daily Beast reported in June on a previously undisclosed “secret son” who had apparently been estranged from his biological father since birth. one a decade ago.

A day after this report, Walker confirmed that he had yet another previously unknown son from another woman and a daughter he had in college.

Now comes the October surprise, the Daily Beast reports, as another woman alleges that Walker paid for her abortion more than a decade ago and is the mother of one of his children. This time, Walker denied knowledge of the unnamed woman, although The Daily Beast also published what the woman said was a receipt from the abortion clinic, a bank deposit with an image of a check for $700. for reimbursement of the cost of the procedure and, in a touching gesture, a “recovery” card signed by Walker.

His denial was too much for his son Christian, who lambasted his father in a moving video for hypocrisy, for lying about his past relationships and running for office after family members asked him not to. .

Sad. Despite the juicy material this saga offers late-night comedians, it’s sad to see this sordid string of scandals go this far instead of seeing the contestant land as gracefully as possible. That day seems to be over.

Comparisons with Donald Trump, who enthusiastically endorsed Walker, come to mind. Remember when everyone thought their presidential quest was over after being caught out by a mic bragging about grabbing women by their private parts?

Remarkably, this incident, along with two dozen women claiming he sexually assaulted them, was brushed aside by his followers, including many evangelical Christians, as they pragmatically believed he could still do much good for their people. cause. The current Supreme Court and their reversal of the abortion decision Roe v. Wade may have been their greatest reward.

While some fear the decline of our politics into “idiocracy”, Walker and Donald Trump propose “ignocracy”, governance by those who are ignorant of many things – and they seem to be proud of their ignorance, while keeping their eyes on bigger price.

No, this game is not limited to a single game. Equally cynical pragmatism, conservatives point out, drove Democrats to rally more closely around President Bill Clinton during his own impeachment scandal, though I think that dust pales next to Trump’s adamant refusal, despite the evidence to the contrary, of the election of President Joe Biden.

That’s the problem with waging culture wars through partisan politics, instead of looking for leaders who will serve the general public. It’s easy to meet expectations if you set your goals low enough, but we deserve better than that.

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Clarence Page is a member of the editorial board of Tribune.

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