Georgia State Congressional Delegation – House of Representative John Lewis and States Senator David Perdue

Becoming an Informed Voter – GOVT 220

The right to elect ones representatives is widely considered one of the most pivotal provisions in the United States Constitution. Individual’s right to vote during national elections is an inalienable right enjoyed by all citizens regardless of race, gender, religious group or political affiliation. The application of this political framework forms the basis of American democracy with the main aim of providing a unique opportunity for citizens to fulfill their political obligation as envisioned by the Founding Fathers (Goodin, 2016). The presentation “Becoming an Informed Voter” elucidates the significance of the voting exercise in the United States and raising the awareness of the electorate during election season. It contains enlightening notions which will eventually play a key role in understanding citizen’s obligation during this critical time. Eligible voters are required to gain a comprehensive understanding of the voting process, specific requirements, and the steps followed during election time within specified jurisdictions.

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The primary objective of voter education, registration, providing election material and voting is to guarantee informed choices are made during the electoral process while making certain that competent individuals occupy elective posts. Although proactive voters continually seek information pertinent to the voting process, a sizeable section of society still remains oblivious of the requirements and provisions outlined under the Constitution.  An in-depth understanding of these requirements is an essential part of becoming an informed voter, especially since it is associated with an elevated cognizance of the voting process and the most appropriate candidate for an elective post. Coupled with a deep understanding of the agenda of each political candidate, voter education also entails obtaining bi-partisan opinions from non-profit lobby groups and interest groups within the country. This, this research paper will focus solely on my congressional delegation from the State of Georgia with a special emphasis on U.S House of Representative member John Lewis of the 5th congressional district and United States Senator David Perdue.

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Political background of Georgia’s 5th congressional district

            Georgia’s 5th congressional district has customarily been the precinct of the Democratic Party. Yet, recent developments within the state have forced many pundits to designate Georgia as a swing state with neither of the main political parties enjoying overwhelming support from its inhabitants (Pew Research Center, 2018). The politics of the 5th congressional district paint a clear picture of Georgia as a battleground state where Democrats are intent on spreading leftist politics and ideals. This move is viewed as an attempt by the Democrats to reclaim lost glory within this particular jurisdiction. Between 1868 and 1960, the Democratic Party enjoyed a long stint of political success in almost every election held during this epoch. However, the social changes witnessed in the wake of the Civil Rights Movement and the subsequent adoption of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prompted the state’s inhabitants to align with fellow Southerners and vote for a Republican candidate. From this period onwards, White Southerners have consistently voted for the Republican Party in an attempt to elect candidates more sympathetic to their political sensibilities and the region’s plight. However, a recent influx in urban African-American voters has caused a major shift in the political base of the Republican Party. 57.7% of 5th congressional district currently consists of African Americans and is one of the major majority black districts in the region (Jones-Radgowski, 2019).

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U.S Representative John Lewis

            Democratic Party’s John Lewis represented Georgia’s 5th congressional district from 1987 until his death on July 17, 2020. His influence among the majority black district is linked to his exploits as an equal rights activist during the 1960s when he joined the Civil Rights Movements to fight segregation and racism in the United States (Morretta, 2019).  Lewis’ ability to maintain his support base within the district is linked to his charisma and the track record as a principled and upright leader. He strived for a just society where each citizen was treated equally regardless of their political affiliation, religion, gender, or ethnicity and made it his life’s work to clamor for the emancipation of African Americans within his district and beyond. As a long-standing member of Congress, Representative John Lewis was bequeathed the enviable honor of serving as the dean of the Georgia congressional delegation where he played the role of a conduit for major political discourses.

        Rise to Power

            Representative John Lewis first captured public limelight when he chaired the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) where he expressed displeasure with the prevailing state of the nation between 1963 and 1966. During this period, he organized and participated in the March on Washington, March on Salem and the immortalized march across the Edmund Pettus Bridge (Phillips, 2016, p. 45). In so doing, Lewis emerged as a robust and moral leader fighting for equality and an end to racial segregation in the United States. Lewis and his compatriots remained unfazed even after being subjected to numerous violent attacks orchestrated by state troopers in a bid to contain the marches. After the enactment of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, Lewis moved to New York where he was later appointed as to head the Voter Education Project (VEP) in 1970. He later ran for office in 1977 in the 5th congressional district but lost narrowly to Wyche Fowler. Lewis ran again for office in 1981, this time for the Atlanta City Council, and won a set at the council. He was elected as a U.S Representative for Georgia’s 5th congressional district in 1987 and was reelected 18 times before his death in 2020.

    Voting Record

       The Family Research Council (FRC) has been monitoring the exploits of Representative Lewis since 1987.  Lewis’ growing support within the 5th district was associated with his influence and focus on voter education within the region. An earlier poll indicated that John Lewis would win the election with 56% of the vote in a constituency where 89% of the voters were aware of his policies (Family Research Council, 2018).  This was later proven to be accurate when Lewis clinched his seat for the 18th time while pushing for the adoption of a liberal agenda in the United States        

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Political background of Georgia

            The State of Georgia is one of the most erratic in the United States and has largely been dependent upon the prevailing political state in the country. The Democratic-Republican Party enjoyed a massive following during the pre-American Civil War period when plantation farming formed the base of its economy. The Democratic Party soon gained popularity among White Southerners in the 1850s when the Whigs established themselves as a major political force in the region (Bullock & Gaddie, 2012, p. 34). This was in direct response to the election of President Abraham Lincoln who sought to end slavery and, therefore, posed a direct threat to the livelihood of many Southerners. White conservative Democrats became a majority in the state legislature during the Reconstruction period in a bid to enact what would later be referred to as “Jim Crow” customs to disenfranchise emancipated blacks. In the 1960s, the state experienced a monumental paradigm shifter after the enactment of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and leaned more towards the Republican Party. This culminated in the election of Sonny Perdue as the first governor from the Republican Party since the enactment of Jim Crow laws during the Reconstruction Era.

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Senator David Perdue

         Senator David Perdue Jr. is a senior United States Senator representing the State of Georgia since his election in 2015. He is an accomplished technocrat, which is one of the primary reasons why he was became a senior senator after the public resignation of Johnny Isakson. Senator Perdue’s has a rich past as a decorated executive heading Kurt Salmon Associates, Sara Lee Corporation, Haggar Clothing, Reebok, Gujarat Heavy Chemicals Ltd. (GHCL) and the Georgia Ports Authority (“David Perdue, Senator for Georgia,” 2020). He first ran for office in 2014, defeating Michelle Dunn and plans to stand for re-election in 2020. Purdue is likely to influence voting in congress due his firm stance on new-age democracy, veteran affairs, and paid family leave.

         Rise to Power

            Senator Perdue set his eyes on running for political office in 2014 and touted his experience as a business executive as a major strength. He endeavored to implement his strategies in the political sphere to create employment within the State of Georgia and was publicly endorsed by the National Federation of Independent Business. Perdue was subsequently appointed as the Republican candidate for the senatorial seat and ran a close two-horse race against Michelle Dunn of the Democratic Party. He emerged victorious, securing 52.89% while Dunn got 45.21% of the vote (Smith, Roberts, & Wielen, 2019).  Since then, Perdue has participated in numerous committee assignments such as the Senate Committee on Armed Services, Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs, Senate Committee on the Budget, and the Senate Committee on Aging.

         Interest group scores

            Sen. Perdue is an outspoken conservative known for his uncompromising abortion known for his uncompromising stance on a variety of issues of national interest. Over the past decade, he has taken center stage and addressed issues surrounding the fiscal state of the country, abortion, foreign aid, and immigration (US Congress, 2019). Perdue is a firm believer in the “America First” axiom and is convinced that the only sure way to improve the economic condition in the country is by creating sources of employment for American citizens. His abrasive attitude also extends to the abortion. Perdue asserts that life begins at conception and is vehemently against the pro-life campaign which clamors for the legalization of abortion across the United States. He is also in support of providing foreign aid to countries such as Iraq, Somalia, Libya, and Sudan which have been ravaged by internal strife. Perdue also supports President Donald Trump’s stance on immigration and views this as a step in the right direction with regard to safeguarding the country from external threats. The following are various interest group ratings for Sen. Perdue:

  • Campaign for Working Families (100%)
  • NARAL Pro-choice America (0%)
  • Council for a Livable World (67%)
  • Friends Committee on National Legislation (29%)
  • Federation for American Immigration Reform (100%).

(The Voter’s Self Defense System, 2019)

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Conclusion                      

The electoral process forms an integral facet of democracy within the United States. Cognizance of this system is crucial to understanding ones political obligation and the role of voting within the wider scheme of things. The presentation titled “Becoming an Informed Voter” was invaluable in a providing a unique perspective on this, rarely understood political process. An in-depth assessment of U.S Representative John Lewis and Senator David Perdue was significant in offering an inimitable insight into their background, rise to power, voting record, and prevailing interest group ratings within the electoral process.

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