North GA Blue: Getting into Good Trouble

Mike Ford, Chair of the Hall County Democratic Party

July 28, 2021 Fannin Co. GA Democratic Party
North GA Blue: Getting into Good Trouble
Mike Ford, Chair of the Hall County Democratic Party
Show Notes Transcript

 The North GA Blue: Getting into Good Trouble podcast covers democratic politics in North GA, the 9th Congressional District, and across the state of Georgia. The podcast is in Q&A/Interview format with various democratic politicos including county chairs, democratic operatives, politicians, and more. It is our mission to deliver crucial information to our listeners in a timely manner as we fight for community values and principles in the 3rd most Conservative district in the state. Our website is: https://www.fcdpga.com/podcasts

Our guests highlight democratic activities and actions to work toward a Blue Georgia. The 9th Congressional District spans 20 counties across the region and covers a good deal of northern GA including Blue Ridge, Morganton, Fannin, Union, Banks, Athens/Clarke, Dawson, Elbert, Forsyth, Franklin, Gilmer, Habersham, Hall, Hart, Jackson, Lumpkin, Madison, Pickens, Rabun, Stephens, Towns, and White counties. 

Our democratic party podcast also disseminates information and interviews powerful Democrats across the state of GA who are working to overthrow the suppression tactics of the GOP and ensure democracy and our values, grassroots efforts, and goals remain intact. 

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Meral Clarke:

Hello, and welcome back to the North Georgia Blue Podcast produced and distributed by the Fannin County Democratic Party. I'm your host Meral Clarke. And we're getting into some good trouble today with our guest, Michael Ford, chair of the Hall County, Georgia Democratic Party. Welcome to the show, Mike. We're so happy to have you with us today.

Mike Ford:

Thank you. Glad to be here.

Meral Clarke:

So let's let our listeners know a little bit about you. Mike is a native Georgian originally from Macon and he is an attorney who has tried civil and criminal cases in state and federal courts throughout Georgia and other states. And as far away as San Diego, California. You also served in Vietnam, and you were awarded the National Defense Service Medal, Vietnam Service Medal, Republic of Vietnam Campaign Metal, Air Metal First through Sixth awards. Thank you for your service, sir. We greatly appreciate it. You are a member of being good standing, of course of the State Bar of Georgia, the Georgia Association of Personal Injury Lawyers and the Georgia Sports Shooting Association. So you are just a renaissance man, Mike, how do you do it all?

Mike Ford:

Very carefully.

Meral Clarke:

I'm sure I'm sure. So let's talk a little bit about democratic politics. And in particular, about your position as the chair of the Hall County Democrats and of course, Gainesville is within Hall County. And that's probably one of the larger cities, I would guess in the ninth district, if not the largest city, but tell us a little bit about yourself. Have you always been a Democrat? And you know, if not, if so, why? Why are you a Democrat?

Mike Ford:

Well, life is a study in choices. Making a decision is typically a choice. Conversely, not making a decision is also a decision or choice. Not all situations in life offer perfect solutions. And they don't frequently allow perfect choices. Therefore, I have not always been a Democrat. And I have not always been perfect.

Meral Clarke:

None of us have.

Mike Ford:

But sometimes the choices really are the choices are bad, more bad and worse. For example, some people stayed home, rather than vote for Hillary Clinton. They felt they were put to the bad more bad or worse choice, and they abdicated by doing nothing. The result was the victory of Donald John Trump, probably, if not certainly the worst president in our history. But politics is sort of the quintessential arena of competing, confusing and frustrating choices. If you're rational, which we hope we are, you have to accept these facts about politics in life. There's a misquote of Churchill which says we Americans always do the right thing, but only after we've tried everything else.

Meral Clarke:

It's so true.

Mike Ford:

I feel like Trump's election, certainly qualified as trying everything else. But essentially, you have three choices, the Republican and independent or Democrat, and what choices and choice you make determines your future and probably the future of our nation. But I'm a Democrat, because that political party most represents what I consider rational thought, policies and aspirations. It is not perfect. Let me be clear. I don't agree with much of the 2020 platform, for example. But the other choices to me are more bad or worse. So perhaps by process of elimination, I come to be a democrat because of all of the parties that might continue to let America be the shining light on the hill, so to speak. Democrats offer the the clear shot.

Meral Clarke:

I would have to agree with that. So how long have you been at strong democrat?

Mike Ford:

I would say with Bill Clinton, I was pretty much a Democrat then. And then, when our idiot friends in the Republican Party decided to impeach him that pretty much cemented it for me. I don't care what peccadilloes the man had. He was a good president. And we had a wonderful economy and a good strong country. And all they could seem to find to do was to try to find something, anything to tear him down. And I thought that was the further demise of the Republican Party. So as far as I was concerned, that was the end of it.

Meral Clarke:

I don't blame you. And I would have to agree. Of course, that was back in the day when Clinton and Newt Gingrich worked very well together, and were absolutely able to reach concrete, bipartisan decisions for the good of the country. And that has disappeared now with the advent of Trump. So I would definitely have to agree with you. So bringing it back down to the local aspects tell us about the Hall County Democratic Committee. What are the demographics there? How is it outside of Gainesville? In the more rural areas of the county? And how did you come to be chair?

Mike Ford:

Well, if I may first, let me back up and comment about something you said about Newt Gingrich. Sure. It is true, as you say that he did work with Clinton. But I believe that Newt Gingrich and his approach to politics created the current situation, it laid all the groundwork for it, it destroyed civility, and so forth. But I just felt compelled to say that because I disliked him so intensely.

Meral Clarke:

I don't disagree.

Mike Ford:

You know, I got to be chairman of the Hall County Democratic Party, because I couldn't run as fast as the others who were trying to avoid it.

Meral Clarke:

So you just showed up, you showed up you were there?

Mike Ford:

Well, the truth is Hall County Democrats were blessed with having a guy named Kim Copeland for years. And Kim was one of those diehard folks who threw every ounce of himself into the party, the party work and so forth. I won't say he was a one man band, because he wasn't. He organized a lot of things had his fingers on the pulse of the community, and certainly the DPG. But Kim just literally burned out and told us that, you know, Look, guys, I'm done all I can do. And so I came in behind that with, well, you know, we were still, I won't say in the midst of COVID, but almost in the midst of COVID. And we hadn't had real in person meetings for a while. And I think a lot of people felt that I was caustic enough to perhaps jump in and fight and force us to do some of the hard things that we need to do. And at the same time, they thought that perhaps because I was a lawyer, I might give some insight and some help, which I did, even before I became chairman. But my joke was, I don't understand why you people elected me because I'm the one that knows the least about Hall County and Hall County politics, because I think I've been here the least. I moved up here in 2009 from Dunwoody so that's kind of the road I got, fortunately, under Kim Copeland's leadership, but we managed to get a headquarters building that we have. It's an older, somewhat decrepit house, not unlike some of us, but it's functional. And it works well. And it gives us a place to meet consistently and it gives us a little bit of an identity. And we can thank Kim for that as well. So that's kind of what was going on. Now, the party, I won't say was dissolved because it wasn't dissolved. But because of COVID. And you know, you had to have meetings on zoom, and some of us like, challenged and have issues and don't know what else to do about it. So we do what we can, and it wasn't terribly satisfactory. So fortunately, about the time I came in, we've got the corner turn, we're able to go back to meeting in person. Therefore, if we were able to accomplish more things, and I think we're coming back, there's a cadre of people, of course that make this possible, right? When I took this job, I said, Look, I am not going to be the person who does the work, I'm going to be the administrator, I want to try to see to it that you have what you need to do the work. But I can't do it. Consider me to be the captain of the ship, but I got to have a crew. And so fortunately, we've had a lot of people step up. And unfortunately, we still need a hell of a lot more people to step up, pull up our committees, and let us get ready for what we all know is going to be one hell of a fight right in 2022.

Meral Clarke:

And it's definitely going to be all hands on deck. Right. So tell me a little bit about Hall County. I imagine the demographics are a bit more diverse because of Gainesville. Is that true?

Mike Ford:

Hall county is red. Okay, let me repeat Hall County is red. Okay. In case you weren't sure Hall county is red, we had a fellow run here for Congress while back. As a lawyer, I won't mention his name. And because he ran it cost him dearly in terms of business and so forth. In fact, there's a liquor store I know of who refuses to sell liquor to Democrats, possibly a good thing. But anyway, the point is, not only are the people up here very staunchly Republicans, they're openly hostile to Democrats and people who live excuse me who lean democratic. So that's once you step into it, you'll find that as far as I've been able to discern, there are of course pockets in Hall County and in Gainesville, like any place that tend to be more blue than red. It is possible. We have a guy running for mayor in Gainesville that I think has an interesting shot. He's an outsider,

Meral Clarke:

I Devin Pandy, correct?

Mike Ford:

Exactly. And I know Devin and I think he'd be a good fellow. And we'll see if the good ol boys can mount a successful counter attack to his grassroots efforts. It will be interesting, but I think the basic thing you need to take away from my experiences so far and Hall County are, it's a very red county, you're gonna have to be careful. When you solicit people, you have to be careful how that information gets spread around, because if these people are in business, some people will attack you. For example, in the most recent election, I put up signs for Ossoff and for Warnock and of course for the top of the ticket as well. And I'd put up two and somebody'd run over him with a car and then I put up four somebody run over those in the car, and then I put up eight because it got to be a contest. Sure, and I had a whole box of signs. So finally, the day of the election, I put up about 22 signs, and they stopped. Just so you understand, they don't have any compunction about being not only vocal, but violent and destructive. So

Meral Clarke:

Well, all of the ninth congressional district is heavily red. So believe me, I'm in the area, and I reside in the ninth and I'm well aware of the politics up here. And it's not just Hall County where Republicans behave in such a abhorrent manner. It's throughout the ninth congressional district and everywhere, everywhere, including Atlanta. So we have to do what we can. So tell me about the Hall County Democrats and your goals at this period in time and what you're working toward what you're working on, and how you're getting your message out.

Mike Ford:

The major effort that we're trying to make right now is fundraising. The reason we consider that to be essential is because we recognize with SB 202 and its ilk that we're going to have major problems with getting people to the polls in 2022. What happens is, we believe it's going to be a very difficult and expensive and time consuming thing to re educate people over what they're going to have to do that's different. Because what the Republican playbook is if you disrupt what people have been doing before, they won't do it well, exactly. And so if people used to do things at one place your vote in one place, and so forth, and you change it, it makes it more difficult. I mean, I'll tease you by saying that you told me you're in the ninth, but I'll say you don't know that.

Meral Clarke:

And why is that?

Mike Ford:

Because redistricting? Yes. You know, who knows? You're right. You're right, who knows. So the problem that I see is, we're going to have to be ready to hit the ground running when it's time and don't want to say a great deal, because I really don't want to give the Republicans an example of our playbook. But let me say that we are going to have to as it gets closer to the election, try to corral the people who don't know where they vote anymore. And for all we know that they even changed precincts, they've done that before. So if you voted by by mail in ballot, you're going to have to educate people when and how they can get it. Are you going to have to educate them? Oh, no, sorry, you can't just drop by and drop it off like a good before I sorry, no more. And just give those a few examples. In order to do that, it's going to take money, and we're trying to engage in some significant fundraising, to be able to do the things that we think will help one of those we believe is going to be actual hanging stuff on doors we have had and currently have a strong voter registration component for the Hall County Democrats 'course it's nonpartisan, will register anybody. But we also think that's important. Some of the demographics suggests that the younger people tended to turn the election and they are notorious for not coming out or if they came out not coming back. Right. So we've got to try to figure out who those people are worked through vote builder and other things to do that. So in order to do that, my personal opinion, not necessarily that of the committee is that it does us no good to do that now, because people will forget, or they'll think I don't care about this now. bother me when it's November. That's a good point. And so I'm very concerned that whatever resources we have, we don't want to expend them too early. Right. So to a certain extent, what we're doing now is we're rebuilding, or I should say, building and one thing that I've mentioned, maybe it's not the right time, but I mentioned it anyway. People seem to have forgotten about this terrible law that's lurking in the wilderness here in Georgia called the heartbeat bill. Yes. And people think that it's dead and it isn't. It's on hold, and I'm not sure how that's gonna come out with litigation. But I remind you who's sitting on the Supreme Court. And I always felt like the heartbeat bill was designed as a vehicle to get to the US Supreme Court, of course. And so be careful what you wish for, because we may think that we keep it tied up in the courts. But that may turn out to be the worst thing we could have done. But what else could we do? So there we go.

Meral Clarke:

And I did not realize that. Well, of course, I should have known in Brian Kemp's continuing quest to turn Georgia into Texas, it doesn't surprise me that that's still on the backburner and just not getting the press right now.

Mike Ford:

Right. I mean, I'm thinking where we're sitting is with an injunction in place, but that's not going to stay there forever.

Meral Clarke:

No, it's not. And it's certainly something that we have to keep addressing over and over and over again, and remain vigilant to ensure that it does not pass here. Of course, once again, it's not surprising. So that's a perfect segue into my next question, Mike, What's wrong with Republicans? This party is certainly not the party I grew up with, or that I dealt with, you know, back in the 80s, and 90s. So besides Trump, what's happened?

Mike Ford:

Well, I'm tempted to say everything. But let's talk about what's happening. As I said to you earlier, I think Newt Gingrich started the destruction of this. And I think it's continued. And we're really in two universes, now. I say the reality and the non reality. The non reality would be Republicans who pretend that the big lie isn't a big lie. And that SB 202, is not Jim Crow, 2.0, and so forth. Exactly. But you know, Reagan didn't do us any favors, either. And it looks to me like Republicans have forgotten their roots. They don't seem to know what they stand for. And if they do, they certainly don't seem to be capable of articulating. June Chris asked me a question a while back. And she said that she was having trouble understanding it. And I said, Well, I think what you have to do is you have to look at the demographics and look at what's really happening. What's happening is we have a whole bunch of white men who are not particularly well educated. They grew up in a country and a nation in which being white was very helpful. Not all encompassing, but very helpful. Some would say it was like just being not black. But

Meral Clarke:

Right. Well, it certainly wasn't a barrier. Let's put it that way.

Mike Ford:

Right. But these people, and I'm not trying to be evil and mean to them. But these are people who they saw the world, the way their parents and their community and their culture, presented it to them. And they had a stand, they had a purpose, they had a position that enabled them to believe with some reality that if they worked hard, and did what everybody said you were supposed to do, you'd have a good life. And unfortunately, that's really not true anymore. Now, it's not artificial intelligence, robotics, the technology, all of these things are coming into play. The jobs I mean, these people talk about when coal comes back, that's not going to happen. Yeah. And so what you have is you have people who feel betrayed, they're saying, look, I did what I was supposed to do, why am I not reaping the rewards? What is going on? So the Republicans and Trump figured out, hey, there's alienation going on here. We can plug into this. And they did. And these people, they wouldn't say it, but they are their white supremacist, either directly or indirectly. And they're seeing their time in the sun going away. And it is yes. And the demographics in Georgia ain't going to be white majority much longer. Even now,

Meral Clarke:

Nowhere in America, actually. So that's all going to change. Yes.

Mike Ford:

So these people are scared, and they're terrified. And so the Republicans are not totally stupid, at least. And so they pitched into this, and they got Trump elected by scaring the crap out of people. But the point is, it's really true. This is changing, and the Republicans jumped onto this. But their problem is, they have a tiger by the tail now. And they've got these people, and they've got them all fired up. And they don't really have an answer. And so we're talking about, are we going to move into a fascist country and so forth. So the Republicans played into this rather than trying to solve it or work around it and they got a lot of people. I mean, what do we got latest 29% of the Republicans still think Trump's going to be reinstituted into the presidency in August? I mean, it's nonsensical, of course, but people believe it.

Meral Clarke:

Why do you believe that the GOP was so eager to embrace the QAnon folks, and just the far right crazy extreme of their party and moderate Republicans are afraid to speak up, especially in Georgia and elsewhere in very red states because they want to keep their jobs. But why do you suppose the GOP as a whole decided to just embrace Trump in all of the baseless theories and lies? Why did that happen?

Mike Ford:

Well, politicians are notorious for being amoral. And they will say whatever it takes to get elected. Well, they made their deal with the devil. And the devil, the tiger that they have by the tail, is this whirlwind of Trumpian problems. These people know, these Republicans know in their bones, that if they don't tow the line, they'll get killed in the primaries, they know that. And these people would rather lie, cheat and steal, than lose their position of power. I talked to a guy 15 years ago who said, Mike, if you have never been a congressman, you just don't understand what happens and how heavy that power is. And I guess they're just not willing to give it up. But here's the problem. It's a short game. It's not a long game, right?

Meral Clarke:

It can't last

Mike Ford:

Exactly. The demographics are going to kill them. So why do you see SB 202? Why do you see the recount? What

they're counting on is:

If we make enough people mad and raged upset, whatever, then we can stay in power a little longer. And that's it. I mean, I'm sorry. But I really believe it's that simple.

Meral Clarke:

This is what I found is that there's a true dichotomy in the GOP now with Republicans where they have extremely wealthy people at the top, mostly white, and mostly older. And then they have their base, which is rural and poor, and not very well educated and willing to just repeat all of their talking points. Where's the middle ground with the Republicans any longer? They're still there? Right. But they're afraid to speak out.

Mike Ford:

Well Liz Cheney couldn't find any middle ground.

Meral Clarke:

There you go. Adam Kinzinger. You're right.

Mike Ford:

There is no middle ground. What people have to understand about the Republican Party right now is, it is a sinking ship. The question is, is it going to sink sooner or later? And what you need to remember I don't mean you personally, no, I understand. What we need to keep in mind is these people who are supporting them, they are terrified of what's going to happen when the people in power don't look like them.

Meral Clarke:

Exactly.

Mike Ford:

They're terrified. They're not worried. They're terrified. Because it's like the movie Gone with the Wind, you know, and it's all going away with the wind, and they see it coming. But all these things across the nation, they're not happening accidentally. I mean, how stupid do people have to be to believe this horse hockey? I mean, come on. Yes, the leaders do not believe this.

Meral Clarke:

But they still peddle the disinformation and the misinformation to keep their base in line.

Mike Ford:

I would refer to that as the communion of the Damned because they're saying it, and they're all agreeing with it. But it isn't true. And it's not going to work out. Now, there could be a turn that we don't like, and that's when it stops being a democracy in the United States, and becomes something else like somebody like Trump or Trump president for life. And we stopped being a democracy all together.

Meral Clarke:

Right, which is terrifying, in and of itself. It is just a horrible thought to even conceive. Do you think it's possible to communicate actual facts and logic and reason to their base? Do you think it's even possible to talk to the far right folks right now and try to get our messages through?

Mike Ford:

Well, back in 1985, when I determined that logic had been refuted, I stopped trying to talk to people with logic and making them understand that two plus two does equal four, right? These people do not want to accept reality because of what that does to them. If you accept that all of this crap that you were fed, was a bunch of lies. What does that say about you? That says, You were a fool, you were tricked,

Meral Clarke:

and very few people can self reflect and accept that. Yes, I see what you're saying.

Mike Ford:

Nobody's going to accept that. If you want to argue with these people. And I say with you know, arguing to them is useless. But if you want to argue with them, you have to take a different approach. And you have to say, well, you were tricked. You were defrauded. You were cheated, right? That way. It's not their failing, it's what somebody else did to them, not their own stupidity. Brilliant. Yeah, I mean, that's just the way it has work. People are what they are. I mean, I've tried a few cases and know a little bit about juries and a little bit about persuading people. And we refer to the including ourselves, we refer to the populace as Bubbas and Bubbettes, and there's certain things that Bubbas and Bubbettes are going to accept and there are certain things they're not. And the first thing they start out with is are they like me? Right? And if they're not like me, then we revert to our old tribal. Well, if it ain't us, it must be dangerous and weird. You remember a long time ago? long haired freaky people.

Meral Clarke:

Oh, yeah. need not apply Yes, yes.

Mike Ford:

So you cannot ask people to do things that they're not capable of. It's like Trump, Trump is a bombastic, pathetic fool. But anybody who is mad at him for being that? I don't understand. You knew that to start with, if you had any effort, you would know what Trump was, and to expect him to change when he adopted the mantle of President is moronic. It's not gonna happen, and it didn't happen. And all those Oh, well, he'll take a turn to the intelligence. Yeah, right. Did that happen? I didn't see it.

Meral Clarke:

But we got lucky in some ways with Trump because he was so incompetent. What happens when we get a Trump that's actually competent? What happens then? That's my fear. That's what keeps me up nights.

Mike Ford:

If he had actually been a genius, right? Yes.

Meral Clarke:

So all that said, are they doing anything right? Is there anything we should look at that they're doing that might be somewhat plausible?

Mike Ford:

It strains credulity to give a hopeful response. The Lincoln project is populated by people that I admire and respect and they left the Republican Party fled. Yes. If you like some people that just looked up at, although I disagreed with some of them on policy and so forth, but they were honorable people. There's no honor left in the Republican party when you got Liz Cheney, right.

Meral Clarke:

The bar is so low.

Mike Ford:

I mean, it's just crazy. I mean, we're sitting here saying that Liz Cheney is this wonderful, stand out person. And I'm thinking it's just because the comparison is so bad. Exactly. Mitt Romney, bless his heart. I think he's probably a good decent, honorable guy, you know, and he's kind of like milk toast standing up there. Well, y'all shouldn't play that bad. But he these kind of comes down on the right side. All right. Well, who else comes to mind? I mean, you mentioned Kissinger, whatever his name is.

Meral Clarke:

Kinsinger, Adam Kinzinger. He's representative from Illinois.

Mike Ford:

Yes, yeah. And he's in there talking to talk and walking the walk, right, but they're not many. And therefore, if I had to say, from their perspective, what are they doing right? It's simple. They understand the politics of division of hate, and rage. Instead of offering a rational agenda, some policy, something that they can imagine or dream up, they're just inciting more hatred, stupidity and lies. So that's going to work for them. To the extent that it's possible to keep this coalition of diluted people in life. That's what they're doing right in terms of the political party. But as I said earlier, that's a short game, and it isn't going to work long term.

Meral Clarke:

I don't think so either. And then you have the Brad Raffenspergers, who are our Secretary of State currently, who are willing to acquiesce and bow and scrape to the far right side of the party just to get reelected. Correct? Even though morally he may not agree with what they say and what they do. So they bend their ethics, at least it feels that way.

Mike Ford:

Well, you can't be slightly moral, right. You can't be slightly pregnant, either. I mean, either you are moral, or you're not correct. And people who are not moral, who are not absolutely evil, or at least amoral. And the problem is, when Raffensperger and anybody else when they compromise, right? What they're doing is they're selling out some good to some evil. That's what they're doing. Don't make any mistake about it. It's just like this. If you really believe that compromise is good. Come over to my house, I'll meet you up a fine dinner, which also is half poison. And then the result of that compromise, what do you think is going to happen?

Meral Clarke:

Yes, exactly. And that's an excellent analogy. I would have to agree with you. It's one or the other. So we know how the Republicans are. Let's talk about the Democrats. What are we currently doing the right way and what can we improve on?

Mike Ford:

What we're doing the right way is paying attention to Stacey Abrams.

Meral Clarke:

Most definitely my queen. She is definitely our queen in Georgia. There's no doubt

Mike Ford:

We can argue that Stacey Abrams got Ossoff and Warnock elected. And I would like to believe that but I don't. I believe, frankly that Trump got them elected because of his stupid antics. But Stacey Abrams was responsible for putting them in the position to be successful, right. And I did a matting picture frame matting that is in the headquarters on College Avenue, and it has Warnock on the right and it has Ossoff on the left. And in the middle, is a picture of Stacey Abrams. Perfect, because she made that possible in Georgia. So when I say she didn't get them elected, I think you know what I mean.

Meral Clarke:

I understand exactly what you're saying. And it certainly makes sense. So that being said, what are we doing wrong as a party as a whole?

Mike Ford:

Well, my grandmother was five foot two, and probably weighed 100 pounds. And she said to me once that it was a very poor idea to bring a knife to a gunfight. She grew up in that age when she could handle a rifle and a pistol. And her point was, if you're going to have a gunfight, have a gun, if you're going to be in a knife fight, at least have a knife. What the Democrats have done historically, has been, we have come to these fights with an, Aw come on now, please, let's all play right. And you can do that if you want to. And with all due respect to Mrs. Obama, they go low, we go high. That doesn't really work too much in the real world. But that's what people have been led to believe. And it's false. If you want to have a fight, have a fight. Right, do what my friend Warnock said, put your shoes on, and let's go do it. Let's not try to pretend that skullduggery isn't happening, right? Let me tell you what makes me so mad. My wife says one of these days, I will throw something on TV set and break it. It makes me so mad for people in the media to say things like the Democrats consider this to be voter suppression. But on the other hand, the Republicans show that it's election integrity. Now, I'm sorry. But those two things can't both be true. At the same time. Now, only a newspapers black and white and red. Oh, this is not true. The truth is, this is voter suppression. And why on earth do we call it anything else? Why do we even pretend to acknowledge that it could have anything to do with election integrity when it doesn't? And if you don't believe that the simple test is, okay, if we have this problem, then I'm sure that you people in the legislature being being good intelligent people that you can can come out with a whole bunch of draconian penalties, for these terrible people who are committing fraud, right. So there'll be prosecuted and, and we'll see their names in the newspaper like you'd want to do for the drunk drivers and all that, right. I mean, we're going to do all that. Right, exactly. Dead. Silence. Why? Because that was never the objective. And everybody knows it. Right. So why do we let the media get away with lying about it? Because they are. They're lying.

Meral Clarke:

They really are. And we do need to get the actual facts out. So do you believe that voter suppression is the most pressing problem that Democrats are facing? And really, it's a problem for everyone, not just Democrats. What do you believe are the most pressing problems that we're facing both statewide and on the national level?

Mike Ford:

in Georgia, the Republican playbook is kind of like, oh, merci goodness. And that would not be the words I would normally select. But oh, merci goodness, look, the Democrats won. Notice that wow, we did well, up-ballot we did terrible down-ballot And so they understand the playbook. And we've got two problems. The first problem is, we have got to get across to people that no dummy, it doesn't matter, just when it's a presidential election, right? What matters dummy is who sits in the state house because they are going to control an awful lot of your life. And if you don't believe that dummy, read the heartbeat bill, and understand that giving a ride to a pregnant woman to the bus station could get you convicted of a felony in Georgia. Understand that. So that's what one of the problems is is getting those people to understand they have to go back. The second thing that I talked about earlier simply is getting people to understand what they did last time is not necessarily going to work this time. Right. And that's an information

Meral Clarke:

Education. Basically, it's voter education that we have to work on.

Mike Ford:

Okay, education information, Either one works on it, but here's the rub. We have to keep going and we have to add new blood where we can and I agree with you is very astute. Most people miss it. This SB 202 is going to impact elderly people a lot. Doesn't matter what color or race you are. Right, it's gonna impact people who are in firm that as if they're handicapped or something. Yeah, I can see the specter of somebody half crippled up standing in lines and I want you folks can't give him water because you know, we would want that to happen. It's pure insanity. Of course it It's crazy. So those are the problems that we're facing in Georgia, as I see it. Now, nationally. You know, the old joke was, I'm not a member of an organized political party I'm a Democrat.

Meral Clarke:

Will Rogers, I believe, yes.

Mike Ford:

I don't know, the attribution. But I believe he said that. Well, he also said, When Congress makes a joke, it's a law. So.

Meral Clarke:

So we're running short on time. But I did want to ask you tell us about what we learned from the 2020 elections and what you expect from the upcoming election years in 2022 and 2024?

Mike Ford:

Well, I think if you study the numbers, the presidential was decided by about 12,000 votes, the senatorial was decided by roughly 10 times that amount is maybe not 10, maybe seven, were a jump, right?

Meral Clarke:

Significant. Yes.

Mike Ford:

So why? We need to figure that out? I think I know the answer. I think the answer is Donald Trump killed himself and killed the Republicans, but by the 12,000 vote margin that tells us and statewide, we've got a good chance to do that, and increase it. If we try. I think we can. And I think we should.

Meral Clarke:

Do you believe that Democrats will come out in force as they did in 2020 last year? Do you think they'll come out in force for the midterms as well?

Mike Ford:

If we can make them mad enough. Because you have to understand these people don't want you to vote is the message. Right? Right. They don't want you to vote. They want John Lewis to have his head fractured for no purpose. Yes, that's what they want. They want you to allow them to continue in their fantasy of white supremacy. Trust me, they're willing to lose some of their white votes to get rid of as many black, Asian, Hispanic and other ilk like Democrats that they can. That's the plan - It's the playbook.

Meral Clarke:

And do you think they will succeed? I hope not.

Mike Ford:

My brain tells me that if we do this right, we can make them regret the day they started. My heart worries.

Meral Clarke:

I would have to say it's the same for me, it is worrisome. So I guess we'll just have to do the best we can and all hands on deck and wait and see what happens. So I do like ending my podcasts on a positive note. Tell us a fun fact about yourself. Mike, tell us something not related to politics or your being an attorney. Something just fun about you.

Mike Ford:

Well, my wife would say there isn't much fun. But I tell people that I'm a retired philosopher, ah, that philosophy is supposed to be the study of truth and understanding and the work of a philosopher is to say how things should be and explain if they're not as they should be how they ought to be. I believe it was Socrates who said that when they call him with philosophia, which meant that when they call him wise, he said, no, I'm a lover of wisdom, a philosophia. I love wisdom. And I love being on top of things when we can but

Meral Clarke:

It's it's hard these days with so much misinformation flying around. But I would also add in here something I want our listeners to know about you as well that you are a certified scuba diver.

Mike Ford:

True. Guilty.

Meral Clarke:

Yes, a certified scuba diver and your private pilot along with single engine land and ground instructor. So what fun must that be? Do you take people up in a plane?

Mike Ford:

Well, you cleverly avoided mentioning that I turned 75 in June. And at this point in my life and life with my wife, who explains to me that I am no longer 18. As you know, from the fact that I'm currently wearing a back brace.

Meral Clarke:

It happens.

Mike Ford:

I do not fly anymore. I'm capable of it. And I used to sit as a check pilot for friends who had airplanes, but I don't fly anymore. And I really think at my age, I don't have any business doing either one.

Meral Clarke:

Do you still teach?

Mike Ford:

No, I've stopped that too. Well, we have a nice website at

Meral Clarke:

So you know, I think you've earned the right. These things any longer, but it's wonderful. Well, thank you, HallCountyDemocrat.com. We also are on Facebook and we also have Mike, for joining us today and sharing more about your critical work to maintain our democracy. I'm Meral Clarke and on behalf of our team, I'd like to thank everyone for listening to the North Georgia Blue Podcast. To learn more about the Fannin County Democrats and the work we're doing please visit us online at Fannin County, Georgia democrats.com and Mike, I want to ask you as well to plug your website if people in Hall County or surrounding environs wish to donate and or volunteer, where would they go? a newsletter. As I mentioned, we have a headquarters at 314 College Avenue in Gainesville. And pretty soon we're going to start staffing it all the time. Fantastic any way that peopl would like to please do not mai anything to 314 College Avenue Now that you gave out the address, no zip code.

Mike Ford:

Because if you do somebody who doesn't like Democrats will find a way to destroy it or steal it. They will, they will we have a nice PO box that you can use, which is PO Box 2217 Gainesville 30503

Meral Clarke:

Fantastic. And so folks, consider sharing the North Georgia Blue Podcast with your friends and families Subscribe and follow and join us again as we get into some more good trouble.