Kemp Feels the Wrath of Trumpism

The Georgia governor and his family are under attack because he did his job.

SANDY SPRINGS, GA – MARCH 06: “I’m a Georgia Voter” stickers are seen at a polling station in St Andrew Presbyterian Church March 6, 2012 in Sandy Springs, Georgia. Ten states, including Georgia, hold caucuses and primaries today for voters to pick their choices for the Republican presidential nominee. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)

Via the AJC: An outraged Kemp blasts pro-Trump conspiracy theorists harassing his family.

Gov. Brian Kemp is fed up with the unrelenting attacks from conspiracy theorists calling on him to overturn President-elect Joe Biden’s victory in Georgia. But he’s even more enraged that some of those peddlers of false claims are targeting his wife and three daughters.

“It has gotten ridiculous — from death threats, (claims of) bribes from China, the social media posts that my children are getting,” he said. “We have the ‘no crying in politics rule’ in the Kemp house. But this is stuff that, if I said it, I would be taken to the woodshed and would never see the light of day.”

This is horrible, especially as it pertains to his children. The story notes that one of his daughters is being sent conspiracy theories about her late boyfriend who was recently killed in a traffic accident. This is vile behavior.

It is all the worse, however, because this is a wholly foreseeable outcome from Trump’s behavior, both in terms of his general promotion of conspiracy theories and his specific unrelenting attacks on Kemp himself after the election.

Kemp, however, is still cravenly kissing up to Trump.

Kemp, speaking to reporters shortly after a vaccine-related event at Grady Memorial, did not blame President Donald Trump for the wrath he’s facing from Republicans, even though the president has stoked the fury by blasting Kemp for refusing to illegally reverse his defeat in Georgia.

“As far as I know, my relationship with the president is fine. I know he’s frustrated, and I’ve disagreed on things with him before,” he said, adding: “Look, at the end of the day, I’ve got to follow the laws and the Constitution and the Constitution of this state.”

Trump has repeatedly vented his outrage at Kemp, and has called him a “clown,” predicted he would lose the 2022 Republican primary and said he was “ashamed” for endorsing him in 2018. At his rally in Valdosta, Trump encouraged U.S. Rep. Doug Collins to run against Kemp in two years.

The aphorism that has repeatedly leaped to mind during this administration is: you lie down with dogs, you get up with fleas. Although, this post title from LGM is more evocative: The Leopards Were not Supposed to Eat My Face.

On the one hand, I suspect a lot of folks are enjoying the schadenfreude of it all. And, to a degree I fully understand. Kemp has helped fuel the Trump machine and now he is arguably getting what he deserves. This is especially true given the fact that he is unwilling to call Trump out on his enabling of the situation.

The problem is, on the other hand, that this situation is telling us about the current trajectory of American politics.

  1. It shows how a party leader can cultivate and mobilize fringe elements of the party. Trump’s willingness to espouse/endorse/repeat conspiracy theories empower these kinds of people.
  2. Kemp, for all his culpability in propping up Trump, is currently being punished for doing the right thing. Granted, part of this is self-preservation as his state appears to be 50/50 and so he can’t afford to make too many voters angry. But the bottom line is we don’t want politicians to suffer for doing their jobs. Bad incentives lead to bad outcomes.
  3. Kemp is likely now facing a primary challenge should he seek re-election, and therefore the lesson for others may be: don’t do the right thing because you will end being punished for it in the primaries, where the loonies have a disproportionate say in the outcomes.

Put directly: Kemp deserves a lot of what is happening to him as he has been a key enabler of Trump, but the incentives being created here are not positive for the country.

FILED UNDER: 2020 Election, US Politics, , , , , , , ,
Steven L. Taylor
About Steven L. Taylor
Steven L. Taylor is a Professor of Political Science and a College of Arts and Sciences Dean. His main areas of expertise include parties, elections, and the institutional design of democracies. His most recent book is the co-authored A Different Democracy: American Government in a 31-Country Perspective. He earned his Ph.D. from the University of Texas and his BA from the University of California, Irvine. He has been blogging since 2003 (originally at the now defunct Poliblog). Follow Steven on Twitter


  1. Jay L Gischer says:

    It isn’t good. Not at all. Rick Wilson has written a book titled “Everything Trump Touches Dies”. I think that’s about right.

    Good for Kemp though, for faithfully executing his duties with regard to counting votes.

  2. An Interested Party says:

    Good for Kemp though, for faithfully executing his duties with regard to counting votes.

    Standards have fallen so low that we now give credit to people for simply doing what they are supposed to be doing–their job…

  3. Michael Reynolds says:

    Kemp would have complied had he seen a way to manage it. The mistake Trump makes is lack of organization and guidance. If you’re going to overthrow the government you need to explain to your underlings how they are supposed to help, and be specific. The next Republican POTUS will learn from this, and next time we’ll see the end of American democracy.

  4. SKI says:

    I keep coming back to Voltaire and experiencing a wave of despair for our country…

    “Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities.”

  5. Sleeping Dog says:

    If R elites want a post trump world, they need to strangle trumpism. It’s too late to use Covid as they enabled him there, but the recent Russian hacking provides them with an outstanding opportunity to walk away from trump and call themselves patriots.

    Doubt they will do it though.

  6. CSK says:

    @Sleeping Dog:
    “…they need to strangle trumpism.”

    Yes, they do, but their terror of the Trumpkins is such that it won’t happen.

  7. drj says:

    Kemp, however, is still cravenly kissing up to Trump.

    This is exactly how not to deal with bullies, blackmailers and other assorted scum.

    This man cannot be helped until he helps himself.

  8. Scott F. says:

    Kemp deserves a lot of what is happening to him as he has been a key enabler of Trump, but the incentives being created here are not positive for the country.

    I would argue that what’s happening to Kemp here will create proper incentives if you consider a longer term trajectory than the next couple of election cycles. If the country has any chance of redeeming itself, the deplorable elements of the GOP have to be stripped of their power. Only the Republicans can do that. And the Republicans won’t do that until it costs GOP pols more to secure the fringe vote than to send out the dogs and rid themselves of the fleas. We should all hope that cost comes politically and not physically, but that’s really up to the GOP and only the GOP.

    Due to the anti-majority constructs in our electoral system, the GOP can thrive by coddling their fringes but I suspect that can’t last for too much longer with demographic trends being as they are and with commercial and cultural forces continue to move progressively. The sooner the Republicans ‘strangle’ the conspiracy theorists and white supremacists in their midst the better for us all.

  9. Kathy says:

    When I think of all the slaves taken to the whipping post, and worse, in Deep South Georgia, and the succeeding Jim Crow era, and Kemp’s own voter suppression efforts, I’m all out of fucks to give.

  10. Not the IT Dept. says:

    Sucks when the monster you helped create actually turns on you, doesn’t it? And Scott F. is quite right: only the GOP can kill this monster, it’s not going away on its own.

    Rick Wilson: “You bought the ticket. You take the ride.”

  11. MarkedMan says:

    NY residents have had the misfortune of having Trump around for 40+ years. If there is one lesson to be learned is that there is little upside in supporting Trump and a whole lot of downside. Does Trump treat Phil Scott or Larry Hogan any worse than he treats lick-spittles like Kemp or Desantis?

  12. Unsympathetic says:

    How exactly do they plan to strangle Trumpism? “Trumpism,” however you define it, is the entirety of the party. The people who “plan” on doing the strangling…. are the very ones who have themselves already been strangled.

  13. charon says:


    How exactly do they plan to strangle Trumpism? “Trumpism,” however you define it, is the entirety of the party.

    You can not “deprogram” more than a small fraction of them. All you can do is overcome (outvote) them.

    Relevant piece today in the Daily Beast:

    This California Representative Survived Jonestown and Says Trumpers Have Definitely Drunk the Kool Aid

    Jackie Speier was a legislative counsel working for a California congressman when she was left for dead on an airport runway in Guyana, South America, in 1978. She was investigating Jim Jones, a charismatic religious leader whose Peoples Temple had come under scrutiny from parents alarmed at his hold over their young adult children.

    Speier was shot five times by Jones loyalists and played dead in order to survive. Her boss, Rep. Leo Ryan, was killed, together with two members of an NBC crew following the story and countless others attempting to leave, including several defectors. That was only part of the massacre. Back at the commune Jones had established, 909 of his ardent followers followed him in a murder-suicide pact, downing a cyanide-infused flavored drink, an act of true believership that has since become known as “drinking the Kool-Aid.”

    “Whether it’s a religious or a political group, the same techniques are pervasive,” she says, ticking them off. Create a sense of doom, as in the suburbs will be overrun. Repeat falsehoods over and over to make them real, as in the election was rigged. Strip people of their independence. It took 39 days for Senate Leader Mitch McConnell to say Joe Biden won the election.

    It’s not that different from the Peoples Temple, where adherents feared they would be ostracized from the community if they challenged Jones. “Community had become their family,” says Speier. “And like the 70 percent of Republicans today who think the election was filled with fraud, those that had some sense of independence couldn’t express it. Once you get deep into something like this, even if you know it’s not right, you stay there, you’re transfixed.”

    In the Peoples Temple investigation, Speier researched aspects of mind control, more colloquially known as brainwashing, where the human mind can be controlled by certain psychological techniques, “and the president in a twisted way was doing the same thing,” she says.

  14. charon says:

    @Scott F.:

    More from that Daily Beast piece I linked to:

    Dozens of lawsuits rejected and two dismissals by the U.S. Supreme Court haven’t dissuaded Trump’s followers who believe he won the election and Democrats are stealing it from him. “When you’re a member of a cult, your knowledge of what goes on is very low,” says Goldstein. “As members move up in the group and learn more about what’s going on, they get disillusioned.” That’s what happened in Jonestown—people were getting disillusioned and they wanted to go home. Other cult members turned on them, carrying out the killings at the airport.

    To maintain his grip on his base, Trump has to continually reinforce the belief that “only I can fix it,” and that the consequence of not adhering to the truth as he presents it will result in disaster, i.e. the suburbs will be destroyed. “When he throws out red meat, he knows exactly what he’s doing. When he’s having these rallies, he’s keeping his followers connected. It’s called group adherence. It serves the purpose of keeping people aligned with him.”

  15. Just Another Ex-Republican says:

    As usual the self-deception amongst Republicans today runs deep. They love to tar others as guilty of “appeasement”, yet have turned out to be the worst offenders. Trump is no Hitler (thank goodness), but you simply cannot appease a dictator and bully. Part and parcel of how they view themselves as the strong independent types, and turn out to be timid followers. It’s pathetic.

  16. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Sleeping Dog: @CSK: I find myself unconvinced that they particularly care about a post-Trump world. They’re happy to go back to dog whistling, roiling the mire and saying “hey, it’s those guys, the bad apples doing this, not me.”

    The elites are not like that at all, and the Trumpers are simply an unfortunate outcome from having a First Amendment. [eyeroll goes here]

  17. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Unsympathetic: That’s another problem, but I think you’re probably overstating the degree. I would say that no more than 70 or 80 percent of Republicans are Trumpish, not the entire party. 85% tops.

  18. Unsympathetic says:

    And the plans created by that 15-30% to overthrow Trumpism will be… as detailed and effective as their earlier work replacing the ACA?

  19. Sleeping Dog says:
  20. Michael Cain says:

    Surely some of these threats rise to the level of felonies with significant jail time, and are easy enough to trace. A small but steady stream of them being arrested, held without bail (clearly, they are a threat), and convicted would probably put a stop to the whole movement: “I didn’t sign up to be a Proud Boy so I could do three-to-five in the general population in a state prison.”

  21. CSK says:

    @Sleeping Dog:
    Well, Gates is using the vaccine to implant chips in us all so he can control the world’s population for…what, exactly?

  22. Sleeping Dog says:


    You know….

    There’s not talking to them and I don’t care anymore. If they want to wander around maskless, pretending that the virus is a fraud, the should catch and if they die, tough.

  23. Michael Reynolds says:


    This is exactly how not to deal with bullies, blackmailers and other assorted scum.

    Indeed. The only smart response to blackmail is to put it out in public yourself. And the best way to deal with threats is to say, what I do have are a very particular set of skills; skills I have acquired over a very long career. Skills that make me a nightmare for people like you.

    Never give a bully what he wants. Always take control of the narrative. I’ve raised my kids and taught my wife that if a man holds a gun to your head in a parking lot and says ‘get in the van,’ you say, ‘shoot me right here, right now, in public – I am not playing your game.’ The way to not be bullied is to not be bullied.

  24. Michael Reynolds says:


    At risk of triggering @Stephen Taylor, no this is not partisanship, this is a cult of personality. These are not the behaviors of political partisans. These are the behaviors of cultists. These are the thought processes of cultists. These are people who deny reality because they hold a religious, mystical view of their führer. Yes, the cult is largely coterminous with the party, but just because X overlaps significantly with Y does not mean that X=Y. You have to consider the thought processes and the motives of the actual humans involved, and I’m sorry, but people screaming in the streets that they will die for Trump, or willfully endangering the lives of their own family, is not politics but madness.

  25. Scott F. says:

    The Jonestown Massacre is a historical analogy that is interesting to reflect on. To the extent that Trumpism is a cult one wonders who are the corresponding figures to those in Guyana.

    Trump is Jones, of course. But, the Jonestown cult had members who wanted out and others who were willing to murder others or destroy themselves to protect the cult and its leader. There aren’t yet any signs of disillusioned members that I can see, but maybe Kemp is the first of those who might see enough of what is going on to want out. What should we be watching for to get an advance signal of who will play the airstrip gunmen shooting down outsiders or who will be drinking the poisoned Kool-Aid? How can we save ourselves from Jackie Speier’s part – a person trying to do the good work of rescuing those who want out only to be caught in the crossfire?

  26. charon says:

    @Michael Reynolds:

    if a man holds a gun

    That’s how my Dad died, shot by a mugger.

  27. charon says:

    @Scott F.:

    poisoned Kool-Aid

    Just to be pedantic and picky, people say Kool-Aid generically because people are familiar with it.

    At Jonestown they actually used something called Flavor-Aid (sp?).

  28. flat earth luddite says:

    @Not the IT Dept.:

    Sucks when the monster you helped create actually turns on you, doesn’t it?

    Going back to #48 from The Evil Overlord List:

    I will treat any beast which I control through magic or technology with respect and kindness. Thus if the control is ever broken, it will not immediately come after me for revenge.

    Again, sucks when your hubris grabs you in its toothy jaws and drags you down into it’s lair, doesn’t it?

  29. Gustopher says:

    It turns out sometimes the monster is both Dr. Frankenstein and his creation. And Igor.

  30. Gustopher says:

    @Michael Reynolds:

    I’ve raised my kids and taught my wife that if a man holds a gun to your head in a parking lot and says ‘get in the van,’ you say, ‘shoot me right here, right now, in public – I am not playing your game.’

    Please tell me that you do this by sneaking up on them in disguise.

    I don’t care if it is true or not, I just want to believe.

  31. flat earth luddite says:

    @Michael Cain:

    “I didn’t sign up to be a Proud Boy so I could do three-to-five in the general population in a state prison.”

    Nah, most of these PB’s won’t do gen pop time. After the “cherry walk” from the bus inside, I predict many will will check straight into protective custody. Most will be in PC after the first week. The few remaining will join the supremacist gangs.

  32. Mister Bluster says:

    @charon:.. (sp?)

    Flavor Aid

  33. al Ameda says:

    Kemp chose to take that ride across the river with the scorpion. Again, nearly everyone who serves Trump is eventually degraded, humiliated, or subjected to threats by political allies

  34. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @flat earth luddite: I predict many will will check straight into protective custody. Most will be in PC after the first week. The few remaining will join the supremacist gangs.

    In every prison I’ve ever heard of, “protective custody” is severely limited to only those most likely to meet a shiv in the shower and who’s death would be an embarrassment. Otherwise, who cares? That’s why gangs hold so much sway. It’s about protection. FTR, being in a gang does not protect one from being raped, it just means the rapers are by a more select group.

  35. Teve says:

    @Michael Reynolds: if you let them take you to a secondary location, that’s the end of you. Hell you’re better off turning and running. Amateurs are remarkably bad shots.

  36. gVOR08 says:

    @Not the IT Dept.:

    And Scott F. is quite right: only the GOP can kill this monster, it’s not going away on its own.

    They’re not going to kill the monster. Their only assets are their plutocratic funders and the Republican base voters, and they are symbiotic. The GOP is the monster. The plutocrat funders and base voters are still the GOP pols best plan for keeping their cockamamie jobs. The plan won’t change until it fails to work. The only people who can kill the monster are non GOP voters. The monster only dies when the Republican Party dies.

  37. gVOR08 says:

    @Sleeping Dog:

    let natural selection take its course

    Won’t work. The case fatality rate is only something like 1%.

  38. gVOR08 says:


    Amateurs are remarkably bad shots.

    Amateurs? One of the small lessons from our string of police shootings is that the cops can’t shoot straight. Firearms training gets an inordinate share of their training and they’re still no good at it.

  39. Teve says:

    @gVOR08: oh yeah. I remember some remarkable dashcam footage from one of those cop shows many years ago. Cop standing a few feet away from a guy, guy pulls a gun, cop pulls a gun, they both start jogging backwards and firing at each other, they both empty their guns, not one bullet hit anybody.

  40. Teve says:

    @gVOR08: yeah and most of the victims are elderly. Natural Selection don’t give a Fuck bout no 75-yro.

  41. gVOR08 says:

    @Teve: I almost mentioned what I think is the clip you’re talking about. An Ohio state cop had pulled over a couple of Michigan Militia types in a small town north of Cincinnati.

  42. OzarkHillbilly says:

    Just gotta say, I see a lot of talk from people who never saw somebody have their brains blown out, or took a knife to the chest, or the blunt end of an axe to the ribs, or a brick to the head. I’ve seen more than a little of each, known guys who took all of one or the other, and even faced a couple on my own. It all sounds good, but when a drunk mf’er told me “I got my gun and I’m ready to go” at 12:33 in the AM while sitting in my truck and I was standing barefoot in the street wearing jeans and nothing else because that is all I had time to grab in my hurry to stop some half drunk asshole from stealing my all but uninsured p/u…

    Letting him go sounded like a pretty gawddamned good idea to me.

  43. JohnSF says:

    One thing I heard several times years ago from military veterans of WW2 vintage was that learning to fire at least reasonably accurately while moving, and being shot at was something that could only be learnt by experience, due to moving about and “being distracted”(!)

    And those who were least “distracted” were often least likely to live very long, at least in the infantry.
    Apparently, the practical military solution was balance off volume and accuracy, and try to have separate firing and moving groups.

  44. Teve says:

    @gVOR08: that’s the one!

  45. Teve says:

    ModerRNA vaccine got the go-ahead.

  46. Sleeping Dog says:


    That’s the general population, many/most of whom are taking precautions. The trumpists are a subset so the death rate should be higher. Even if it only 2-4% that would help.

  47. JDM says:

    @gVOR08: I think this is the police video you are talking about.
    It appears they were neo nazi’s from Spokane, Washington. Remember, the far right has no love for law enforcement.

    From what I have learned, most police officers don’t spend much time learning how to shoot, especially when somebody is shooting back. That takes amazing skill, guts and a cool head.

  48. Jim Brown 32 says:

    @charon: I’ve said before that Trump has been trained in persuasion techniques–the high end caliber of techniques. No question about it. There are psychological profiles which are highly susceptible to them–if you aren’t one of those profiles the techniques have no effect and seem a little weird.

    His main flaw is that his only desired outcome is that people have unyielding fielty to him–and make him lots of money. Had he desired some type of ideological outcome–we would have been up schitts creek.

  49. Jim Brown 32 says:

    @JDM: Police spend time at the range–but that is not a skill that translates well to shooting and moving. And with a pistol–you aren’t going to get good accuracy outside of 20-30 meters anyway.

    The investment is training police to engage in gun-fights is not worth it since the overwhelming majority will never be in one.

  50. gVOR08 says:

    @JDM: That’s the one. I’d forgotten the name Kehoe brothers.

    From what I’ve read, the stereotypical Western quick draw gunfight is impossible. When the first guy draws, it takes a person about a quarter second to react. Thats too much of a head start, the second guy can’t possibly shoot first. It’s the trick where you hold a dollar bill hanging down. The other guy gets to hold his thumb and first finger loosely around it and can keep it if he catches it after you drop it. Nobody’s fast enough to catch it.

    Apparently the real trick was to keep, as you say, a cool head, and get off an aimed first shot while the other guy blazed away wildly. Tough to train for.

  51. Ken_L says:

    Is it always ‘vile behavior’? If you sincerely believe that someone’s boyfriend was killed by a car bomb as a warning to her father, and the authorities are trying to cover it up by pretending it was an accident, wouldn’t the vile behavior be to remain silent?

    That’s the true evil of the Trump Cult. Not that it provides a vehicle for all kinds of repulsive behavior, but that it enables and authorizes acts of madness by people who are legitimately mad.

  52. @Gustopher:
    You ever watch a BBC show called Man Down? It stars Greg Davies, who I love, playing an exaggerated version of himself – he was a school teacher before becoming a comedian. One of the running gags is that Greg’s father randomly attacks him, usually screaming manic insults, sometimes while pretending to be the ghost of Greg’s ex-wife who is not actually dead.

    But I don’t do that because I have a well-founded fear of my wife.

  53. Michael Reynolds says:

    That’s awful.

    I wrote a pair of adult thrillers that are very, very vaguely autobiographical. One of the running gags is that the hero, a semi-retired conman and thief, imagines teaching a class called Crime 101. Lessons include not turning 3-5 into life without parole by using a gun. Kill a man for the cash in his wallet? Make widows and orphans to buy a fix or a bottle? But criminals as a rule are not smart people.

    I hope they caught they guy and I hope he’s in a concrete hole somewhere. My glib tolerance for property crime stops at violence or anything done to a child. I had my car stolen (got it back) and I would not have prosecuted. It was just a joy ride, prison is too much for that sort of crime. OTOH the guy who pistol-whipped my wife as she (successfully) resisted his rape attempt, him I went looking for.

  54. Michael Reynolds says:

    @Jim Brown 32:
    I think the British model is so much smarter. They have ‘armed police,’ a special group, somewhat like SWAT. If a gun is involved the regular cops – generally unarmed – stand aside and the armed police are scrambled to handle it.

  55. Tony W says:


    their terror of the Trumpkins is such that it won’t happen.

    Here’s what I can’t figure out. When it’s some Republican dude that appealed to the center vs. some Democrat dude who is more center-left (or even further left) – who are those Trumpkins going to support?

    American is a 2-party system. We like dichotomy. We like issues to have only two viewpoints. We are simple like that.

  56. @Tony W:

    When it’s some Republican dude that appealed to the center vs. some Democrat dude who is more center-left (or even further left) – who are those Trumpkins going to support?

    That’s easy, the dude with the R after his name, although they will fly fewer flags.

    The problem is: will the Rs nominate such a person when Trumpists are a significant proportion of those who show up to vote in the primaries?