R.E.M., Jimmy Carter, and Brad Raffensperger – Donald Trump’s Georgian “Reckoning”

“I’m sorry, I’m sorry, I’m sorry, I’m sorry.”
-R.E.M. “So. Central Rain”

In the 2016 election, Donald Trump carried the state of Georgia.


And from the Peach State, he plucked two men for his cabinet: Sonny “Pray for Rain” Perdue as Secretary of Agriculture and Tom Price as Health and Human Services Director.

Price was at that time the representative of GA’s 6th district which then went to a special election runoff that was almost won outright by a 30-year-old democrat in a district that was strongly red. STRONGLY.

In the 2020 election, Donald Trump lost Georgia. And there are two races still to be decided in Georgia which could swing the balance of power in the Senate away from Mitch McConnell.

That 30-year-old democrat? That would be John Ossoff, who now is in one of those tight special election race for a Senatorial seat against an incumbent: David Perdue, the first cousin of Sonny.

It’s really a small world where so much can happen in a short four years – even allow karma to penetrate one of the more evangelical regions in the world.

Because there is always a reckoning.

Tom Price is no longer the Director of Health and Human Services. His expense reports alone could have funded a lot of the vaccine roll-out that the Trump administration should have been working on more deliberately. Actually, thank God Price is out of there and not “spearheading” the COVID-19 response team. Remember in 2017 when Tom Price was on the news circuit talking about the new version of the AHCA, a repeal and replace hack job that was nothing more than a smokescreen for tax cuts for the wealthy.

David Perdue certainly benefited from those “tax cuts.” But now David Perdue is in the fight of his political life.

Because there is always a reckoning.

And Trump is obviously in the fight of his political, economic, social, and emotional life.

Because there is always a reckoning. And it’s happening in Georgia.

“Reckoning” is a rather strong word. Almost gothic in a way. Kind of like saying that “what goes around, comes around.” Or the “devil will get his due.”

Listening to the full audio release of Trump’s phone call with the Secretary of State from Georgia, Brad Raffensperger seems to give more gravity to that word “reckoning” and the fact that this revolves around my home state of Georgia. In that released audio, Trump is heard pandering to officials to overturn the election results in Georgia.

Trump thought that the state of Georgia would be a foundational piece of his reelection as president and affirm the GOP’s hold on the Senate. But Georgia and a few of its natives have explained to us that there is always that reckoning: President Jimmy Carter and the iconic band R.E.M.

Historians may forever debate Carter’s effectiveness as a sitting president, but it might be hard to find a former President of the United States who has had a greater humanitarian footprint on the world than Jimmy Carter. His Nobel Peace Prize is unarguably richly deserved and his role as negotiator and diplomat and sober voice in politics in the last thirty years is undeniable. In fact, he is really the antithesis of someone like Donald Trump.

Carter is a former navy man, farmer, former governor, and married over sixty years to the same wife. He at one time actually lived in subsidized housing. His work with Habitat for Humanity probably means that he has had a hand in building more houses than many people who are contractors for people who have no mean of paying for them. He still teaches Sunday School in his hometown church and probably says “second” instead of “two” when referring to II Corinthians.

And then there is Trump.

Carter also has written books. Actually written them. And poetry. Some of it well received.

And then there is Trump. He has ghostwriters and people like Perdue who speak for him.

Jimmy Carter once wrote a poem called “Always a Reckoning” from a book that bore the same name published in 1995. That poem starts,

“There always seemed to be a need
for reckoning in early days.
What came in equaled what went out
like oscillating ocean waves.”

Sounds like a karmic version of Newton’s Third Law of Motion: For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction.

Serendipitously, in 1983 David Letterman hosted an upcoming band from Georgia on his new late night show in New York City to sing its new untitled song. That song was “So. Central Rain” from an album that would be called Reckoning.


Here is a link to the video. It’s worth watching just to see how young R.E.M. looked – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ykp0Vq77IBw.

Ironically, in that same city of New York Donald Trump was starting to become a defendant in several lawsuits that accused him of driving out tenants forcibly in a 14-story building in near south Central Park (http://money.cnn.com/2016/03/28/news/trump-apartment-tenants/).

“So. Central Rain” and South Central Park. Habitat for Humanity and Eviction. David Perdue and Brad Raffensperger. Actions and Consequences. 1983 and 2021.

No, this is not an argument that the future was being predicted by one song, but that when art imitates life there is a lesson that can be taught over and over again because life always happens and lessons continuously need to taught. And when the artists have that clear vision and a way of putting observations to song, then it can give clarity to events that happen say 38 years afterwards.

“So. Central Rain”

Did you never call? I waited for your call
These rivers of suggestion are driving me away
The trees will bend, the cities wash away
The city on the river there is a girl without a dream
I’m sorry, I’m sorry, I’m sorry, I’m sorry

Eastern to Mountain, third party call, the lines are down
The wise man built his words upon the rocks
But I’m not bound to follow suit
The trees will bend, the conversation’s dimmed
Go build yourself another home, this choice isn’t mine
I’m sorry, I’m sorry, I’m sorry, I’m sorry

Did you never call? I waited for your call
These rivers of suggestion are driving me away
The ocean sang, the conversation’s dimmed
Go build yourself another dream, this choice isn’t mine
I’m sorry, I’m sorry, I’m sorry, I’m sorry

R.E.M. said “I’m sorry” exactly 12 times more than I have ever heard those words sincerely come from Trump’s lips.

Well, actually Trump did say “sorry” two times in his call, but in his usual unapologetic manner.

Trump’s “rivers of suggestion are “driving (people) away.” What Raffensperger and his General Counsel, Ryan Germany, told Trump was that they were not “bound to follow suit.” They told Trump to “go build (himself) another home, this choice isn’t mine.”

The choice was the people of Georgia. They have another choice this week. Actually two.

And instead of repeating, “I’m sorry” multiple times to round out the chorus, Raffensperger and Germany just stated, “This is wrong.”

Multiple times.

Always a reckoning.