AUGUSTA, Ga. (WJBF) – The Means Report is happy to welcome back Dr. Craig Albert from Augusta University to breakdown what is happening in our nation’s capitol. First and foremost, Capital Chaos. We all saw what unfolded on Wednesday, January 6th. The Senate Races in Georgia that led to the apparent Democratic majority in the Senate. And what happens from here? What happens when Joe Biden, is sworn in and this country tries to move past the Trump era and into whatever the future holds. Dr. Craig Albert, Political Scientist at Augusta University and familiar face on the Means Report will help us understand all of that and help us navigate what is next.
Brad Means: Dr. Albert, happy new year to you. Thank you for being here.
Dr. Craig Albert: Love being here. Happy new years to you all.
Brad Means: You know, I always remind viewers during breaking news times like this, that we record the Means Report on Thursday. So this is Thursday, January 7th. Most of the time what we say holds until the broadcast airs on Sundays and Mondays. But let’s go back to Wednesday, January 6th, Dr. Albert, and let me just ask you about what happened at our Capitol, people storming the building, people interrupting government business while lawmakers were at work. I thought that only happened at other countries.
Dr. Craig Albert: It’s astonishing, Brad. It leaves me almost without words as a citizen but also as a political scientist. Our whole community as political scientists especially those of us that study political violence, terrorism, and warfare were caught off guard. And, you know, we had tweet storms going where, you know, we didn’t know what to do because we study this as you just said and other countries or in other eras and epics, but it’s very hard to see to put our own theories in into use in the United States for this type of chaos.
Brad Means: Dr. Albert, I know that we could go down a side road here and take up the whole rest of the broadcast, but I’ll just ask you this. Do you think that the protest was, as it appeared, something that just organically happened during a pro-Trump rally or do you think it was planned, it was orchestrated?
Dr. Craig Albert: There are parts of it that were certainly planned and orchestrated as events by the simultaneous state house protests that were occurring in many States throughout the country with the same type of energy, although not as large as the one at the U.S. Capitol. There were definitely some organizers in that. There were definitely assigned agitator there. groups were there. The intelligence community knows that there are certain groups that were there that were wanted to cause problems. But I’m also sure they were just Trump supporters who had no idea that that was going to happen that was also there. So I’m sure a lot of people that were there were caught off guard, but you can tell by the way it unfolded that there was definitely those there seeking opportunity to inflict chaos and cause harm to the United States.
Brad Means: Well, so if that’s true, if it’s sort of a mix of regular supporters and prearranged supporters, should people maybe take a step back before getting so angry at the president, before being so ready to place blame on that side?
Dr. Craig Albert: It’s hard for me to be objective here, Brad. So the viewers and you all will have to, excuse me. I know I’m, I usually try to be objective but this would not have happened in my political opinion without the type of rhetoric and instigation that the president has put out over the past couple of weeks, not just the president but the president’s family who kind of warned that Wednesday was coming and that things were gonna happen. And a lot of people say that that was just, you know, political brandishing or rhetoric but I don’t think the groups who wanted this to happen would have gotten that far without in their minds political support or backing from president Trump and his close family. So I think that no, some blame has to be cast this time on the president and the president’s close supporters in his administration, that he certainly instigated this by his words and actions and failure to recognize the election of Biden.
Brad Means: Can’t you flip the script though, just, I don’t know if you should play the role of conspiracy theorist here, but can’t you kind of flip it the other way around and say look, this was a great way for those who would love to ruin the Trump presidency and all, but erase it from the history books to really put the final nail in his coffin, by bringing these people up to DC, making it super easy for them to storm the Capitol and making him once and for all, at least look horrible, at best in their opinion, maybe get out of office?
Dr. Craig Albert: One could view it like that, but we have to remember that the people that control the Capitol police, the people that control all those individuals are Republican, right? So the response or the lack of response was controlled by the president and his administration. And that’s a little weird to see what’s going on. So as you can tell, I mean, it’s hard to talk about this because it’s just so fresh and new so I’m not quite fair to say. I don’t think conspiracy plays a role in this. I mean, I think we have to cast blame where it is and for the all the evidence points to instigation by president Trump in this matter, where perhaps he, you know, didn’t want anybody to die or anything but he wanted to make statement in some kind of attempt that he could hold on to power. I’m not sure if people are advising him that, that is a possibility or what’s going on in in his mindset or the administration’s mindset but he definitely thought that there was a way for him to maintain power. So I don’t think that there is a way to… I think he has to be held responsible for this, Brad.
Brad Means: Yeah, now I appreciate your candor. And, you know, I always try when we’re together to ask the questions that every single person might ask from every possible political persuasion. And whenever I do that, you always answer each one thoroughly and thoughtfully. And I appreciate it. So at the top of the broadcast I mentioned that we typically only see this type of behavior in other countries. How’s this make us look worldwide?
Dr. Craig Albert: Well, we’ve lost all moral authority and all moral legitimacy worldwide. We have been losing that for a number of years on different sides of the political spectrum worldwide depending on who’s been the president. Since 2001 it’s ebbs and flows depending on the country that you’re talking about with. But overall, you know, Putin, has said, leaders of authoritarian countries besides Russia have now said and come out recently that America’s democracy is fragile, that this system is collapsing. That, you know, they hope to push for more authoritarian regimes worldwide because now, you know, the beacon of democracy, which is supposed to be the United States is showing some fishers, some cracks and people like Putin and other authoritarian leaders worldwide are gonna take advantage of this and try to make it seem as though liberal democracy is dead. But I believe that the United States will come back from this and we’ll learn from this, and we’ll be stronger but this is definitely a pivot point that the world that does not like the United States will use against the United States for their own strategic advantage.
Brad Means: Yeah, and you really just answered this so I’ll just kind of remind you that you’ve always told me on this broadcast, that our enemies main goal is to turn America against itself. And in that case, Wednesday was a huge win for them, right?
Dr. Craig Albert: Yes, our foes have sowed discord among us and division among us. It’s ripe, it’s as bad as it’s ever been. And as I’ve been studying in the United States as a political scientist, at least the divisions are real and it’s not just our foreign enemies that are doing this. Now we seem to have domestic agitators that are doing this as well. So I don’t wanna put all the blame on Putin, or Russia or the intelligence services overseas that are instigating disinformation and misinformation because I have to say from where I can be objective right now in the analysis is that we do have domestic foes that are seeking discord and division as well in the United States for their own purposes as well. So that’s clear in this case.
Brad Means: Let’s kind of use this as a way to transition into the Georgia Senate race where we saw two Democrats overtake two Republicans, and by those wins, give the Democrats, the majority in the United States Senate. Does having that majority in both chambers, along with having the White House for President-Elect Biden, help the healing process. And if that’s what his agenda includes, and I am assuming it certainly does, does that help him execute that agenda of healing?
Dr. Craig Albert: I don’t know if a unified government helps an objective of healing. It definitely helps with a Biden’s administration idea of whatever he wants, the course that he wants to take America’s having a unified government, unified government means the executive and both Chambers of Congress are controlled by the same party, that helps his administration’s policies as well. I think it just comes down to leadership and leadership personality, and leadership traits that will heal the country right now. It’s good leadership, strong leadership, moral leadership, a conciliatory leadership, but also a leadership that holds people responsible for their actions. That’s what America needs right now, is a strong moral leader that will look this incidents and the overall chaos that the U.S. has been experienced lately and really seek compassion and empathy, and reason, and bring both sides back to the aisle where we can discuss and debate properly on how to compromise, and while compromising or even not compromising with the other side being able to see that, you know, a republican or a Democrat that I happen to disagree with is still my brother or sister. And that’s what we need right now. And so it’s my hope as a citizen but also a political scientist that a president Biden will be that, will seek to unify and heal. And he says he does seek to unify and heal what’s going on in the United States right now. And I look forward for him being able to do that.
Brad Means: Yeah, it was, you know, to clarify my question certainly having a single party in charge of everything might not promote healing just by its very nature because all people aren’t represented, all parties. I guess what I meant was if he has an idea to heal us, he could carry it out more easily with his entire party behind him controlling everything instead of Republicans pushing back and maybe not letting that idea ever see the light of day. So how does it look? What’s healing look like very briefly before we take our first break. Is it words, is it demeanor by the president elect? Is it just turning down the volume?
Dr. Craig Albert: I think it’s all of that, Brad. I think a President Biden, I know he’s not president yet but I’m just gonna refer to him as that–
Brad Means: Sure, sure.
Dr. Craig Albert: ‘Cause that’s when he’ll be doing this. A president Biden, he’ll be compassionate in his words. I think we can already see that with his speech to the events of January six, that he seeking compassion and empathy and understanding, and some type of healing. So I do think we’ll see what the establishment and calls more presidential behavior from a president Biden, than what the detractors of Trump have seen in the Trump administration, you know, where he doesn’t really act according to what they say are traditional presidential values or normal operating actions. And so I think that a president Biden, will be doing that. You can also look for immediate relief, I think Brad, to things going on with, COVID still, to some of the racial confrontations that have been happening over the past year. It’s not just words that a president Biden, will bring to policy right now, but it’s also a quick and, you know, unified action or response to these issues and particularly COVID and racial injustice in this country. So I think he’ll put action behind his words to bring some kind of help and unity across these two items at least. And I expect him to do that remarkably quickly as he takes the office after January 20th.
Brad Means: We’re talking to Augusta University Political Scientist, Dr. Craig Albert, about what’s happening in our country and what we can expect in the coming months and years as a new administration gets set to take over. The Georgia Senate Race, what in the world happened there? The red state now blue. We’ll look at that with Dr. Albert, when the Means Report continues.
Brad Means: Welcome back to the Means Report as we continue to tackle the big issues facing our nation today not only currently, but going forward. And Dr. Craig Albert, is helping us along the way as a political scientist out of Augusta University and frequent guest on the Means Report. Thank goodness. Dr. Albert, what in the world happened in the State of Georgia. First, we see it vote for Biden, then we see it vote for two democratic senators. It’s not red anymore at all, is it?
Dr. Craig Albert: No, it’s not just a solid red state any longer. It is certainly a purple state. I don’t go as far as other pundits or political scientists that say, it’s a blue now. I think we have a large percentage. I can’t name a statistic yet, but that data is unavailable. But I believe we probably had up to about 10% of registered Republicans in the state of Georgia who voted for Biden, and who voted also for Ossoff, and Warnock, in this election. Just as kind of protest both against President Trump, and senators that these Republicans viewed as being in agreement with President Trump, as being pro-Trump versus anti-Trump. And so I think a lot of that shift was because of these Republicans who voted blue. And also you have a large number of independents in the state who went blue this time as well. I think again, more as a protest against Trump, and Trump’s policies more than as that saying that they were forever going to be Democrat in their orientation. So it’s gonna be a, you know, down to the grass roots now, Brad, into the future of Georgia politics and how this is going to play out. And of course the next governorship election has to be on everybody’s mind with, Stacey Abrams, is gonna challenge Governor Kemp, again because of this assuming reorientation to democratic politics in this state. But I think it’s gonna be a misjudgment that say that it’s blue or that Stacey Abrams, will have an easier time of winning. I think that if Trump, is out of office and no longer in the national landscape that those Republicans who strayed from the party line in the 2020 elections might come back and vote more Republican in 2022.
Brad Means: Are there two Republican parties, the regular one and the Trump one?
Dr. Craig Albert: You know, I would have said that a couple of years ago, but I think the Trump line has overwhelmed the GOP right now. So I think it’s pretty much, you know, 90 or 80% President Trump’s approval ratings. Brad, I haven’t seen the numbers since what happened on Wednesday but they’re still 88 to 90% in poll after poll. So it seems to be a Trump-centric policy. And that seems to have not played out in some of the state elections, and I believe that’s the case in the state of Georgia as well. I think more, this is an election against Trump, and Trump, policies, against a Trumpish GOP. And I think that’s what the state has shown on both sides of the aisle with this 10% of the Republicans who seem to gone against Trump, and the party this time.
Brad Means: And so for the future Republican to be victorious, whether it’s in the state of Georgia or nationwide is it best at least right here right now in this moment in our nation for them to distance themselves from president Trump?
Dr. Craig Albert: If I were advising somebody in the GOP, that’s a precisely what I would would argue is that any Republican that wants to win the State of Georgia right now in this political climate has to get away from this type of champion ideals or Trump politics. I think that’s where, Kelly Loeffler, went wrong is that aligning herself too much with Trump, in the past couple of weeks. And that really disenfranchised some of the Republican voters who wanted to vote for her and and forced them to no vote or to vote for Warnock, in that case, especially when she released her announcement that she was gonna vote to not certify Biden, as the electoral college winner. She did that 12 hours before voting started on Tuesday. I think for many of the Republicans who strayed, and you’ll see in the data that, Perdue, got more Republican voters to vote for him than, Loeffler, got to vote for her. And I think that announcement and that type of political lining and alignment with President Trump is what did in those two senators.
Brad Means: You know, good or bad, whether what happens is good or bad or somewhere in between, can you think of one or two ways that the regular everyday American might notice that President Biden, is in the White House instead of President Trump, when we’re waking up and going to work or school, is there any way that we would say, oh, okay, things are different in the country right now. I can tell it, or but it’s because of this issue that was just passed or because this thing in my life that’s changed?
Dr. Craig Albert: Well, I think you’ll see immediate COVID relief. I think you’ll, with a unified government you’ll see larger stimulus checks. I expect a third round of stimulus checks and a larger round of stimulation checks to be implemented when a President Biden, takes over pretty immediately I would say. I would say that the biggest thing people are gonna notice, Brad, for better or worse is the lack of social media discord or constant Twitter blast or Twitter feeds from the president. I don’t think that we’ll see a President Biden, on social media that much. And I do think that his tweets will be much more in line with presidential behavior that the establishment typically expects, whether for good or bad, right? I know that the social media of President Trump, is good for business and good for the news industry, but I think that type of always wondering what’s gonna be said on social media, by the president will no longer be something that the United States will have to experience for better or worse.
Brad Means: Yeah, I got up today and tried to find President Trump, on Parler because he said, he’d switched to that. And I’m still trying to figure out as of this recording how to navigate, how to work Parler. Do you think it’s fair that Facebook and Instagram, and Twitter banned him?
Dr. Craig Albert: You know, Brad, I have to say as a political scientist it’s hard to not look at his language and his videos he released on Wednesday and on his social media platforms that they weren’t intended to incite or cause harm. And if that’s the case that they were intended to cause harm or insight, then it is proper and I think necessary in this case for him to be at least temporarily banned on those platforms. And I think that they were fair if you read what they said, they said if he removes these particular posts that were viewed as inciting violence, which is against the United States Statutory Code, by the way, it’s an unlawful for you to cause or intend to incite violence, then he can be removed from those. All he has to do is take those posts down in both Twitter and Facebook at least said they would allow him to continue to operate on those platforms just without those particular posts there. And so it’s really in his court, whether or not he’s allowed back into those platforms, but to answer your, I’m giving too much of an explanation here, yes, I do think it was proper for those social media outlets to ban him with those posts in mind.
Brad Means: No, it’s good, it’s helpful, I’m glad that you went there. Nobody’s taken their eye off the ball from a national security standpoint during all this craziness. Are they, I mean, the folks that are still in charge of protecting us from incoming missiles or other threats are still on the job, right?
Dr. Craig Albert: The United States will always be protected. And the people that are here to defend the United States are still in their posts and still looking out for American interests, 100%. Even if some of the cabinet officials or undersecretaries of certain departments resigned which we’ve been seeing in the past couple of days as a response to what occurred on Wednesday, everybody that looks at the computer screens and analyzes threats that their response to threats are still there at their posts, at their duty stations and as vigilant as ever, especially those folks in, you know, the CSRI area, everybody that does anything for national security is still doing that and we’ll do it, and continue to do it going forward.
Brad Means: And once this pandemic is behind us, is Trump gonna get any credit for it? That vaccine did come really fast.
Dr. Craig Albert: Brad, I think it’ll be a long time before we see any, you know, accolades given to president Trump. I think he’s really hurt his legacy right now. And the COVID response, you know, some would argue it came out too slow. And I think that what you’re gonna see now is people are just piling on against, Trump. And so you’re not gonna see a lot of accolades being given to him even if he deserves them on certain issues right now. It’s going to be a while. There’s no way around it, Brad, that the nation’s wounded right now on both sides of the aisle, people are upset and feeling shocked over what happened. And we’ve never really experienced like, we have never experienced something like this. It’s hard for me to use any of my training as a political scientist to even explain to anybody, you know, I teach a class an hour on American politics and it’s gonna be a tough day. So we’re not sure. And I don’t think that you can expect people to give President Trump, any praise any time soon. It’ll be left to history on how they judge him. And I think truthfully we’ll need some time and space to be able to analyze properly. And as you can tell, just for me to analyze without emotion or passion involved, right? It’s gonna take some time before we can just reasonably look at it.
Brad Means: I agree with you wholeheartedly. And because it’s so fresh and because your insight has been so keen just my respect for you grows even more. Dr. Albert, thank you, for always being on the Means Report especially during this time in our nation’s history and for adding all that you do, we appreciate you so much.
Dr. Craig Albert: I appreciate you as well. Thanks so much. Brad Means: Dr. Craig Albert from Augusta University