Archive for the ‘Discrimination’ Category

If Not For The Water: Georgia’s Stick In The Eye Of Democracy

Monday, April 5th, 2021

Major League Baseball and Major League Corporations are turning on the state of Georgia. The baseball All-Star game, originally scheduled for Atlanta’s Truist Park in July, is picking up its bats, balls and gloves and heading somewhere else, depriving the stadium of more than 43,000 fans and all the money they bring with them.

This, of course, is due to the Georgia Election Integrity Act, a 98-page, nearly 2,500-line piece of legislation signed into law by Governor Brian Kemp a week ago Friday behind locked doors in the presence of nobody but six older white guys and a painting of Calloway Plantation. None of the more than 100 people the Calloways enslaved are pictured in the painting. In addition to MLB, the Coca Cola and Delta Airlines corporations, headquartered in Georgia, sharply criticized what they considered terrible voter suppression by the majority Republican legislature.

Coca Cola and Delta did not stand alone. The following major corporations have issued sharply condemnatory statements: Merck, Porsche’s North American operations, headquartered in Georgia, Georgia-based UPS, Mercedes-Benz, Microsoft President Brad Smith, Bank of America Chairman and CEO Brian Moynihan, Cisco CEO Chuck Robbins, Home Depot, headquartered in Georgia, JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon, American Express, Facebook, and Viacom CBS.

Texas, a few states to the west of Georgia, appears ready to pass similar legislation, prompting American Airlines and Dell, both based there, to issue similar strongly worded rebukes before any legislation has been voted and enacted. Texas Governor Greg Abbott says he will sign the legislation when, not if, it reaches his desk. And Lt. Governor Dan Patrick, the powerful Senate leader, slamming the corporations’ criticism, said, “Texans are fed up with corporations that don’t share our values trying to dictate public policy.”

As of March 24, legislators have introduced 361 bills with restrictive provisions in 47 states, according the Brennan Center for Justice, which tracks voting legislation around the country. Arizona, alone, has 23 in the hopper.

It seems that the irresistible force is about to meet the immovable object as corporate America issues a ringing indictment of what it considers perfidious attempts by red states to restrict voting rights. What caused this immediate and strong opposition? MLB traditionally takes a long time to decide anything, let alone a law about voting.

I submit it has everything to do with water.

More than half of the Georgia Election Integrity Act deals with absentee and early voting. Reading those parts is like trying to negotiate the Labyrinth without Theseus’s ball of twine. However, there is one, immediately understandable sentence found on page 73, a section of which reads:

No person shall…offer to give…any money or gifts, including, but not limited to, food and drink, to an elector…within 25 feet of any voter standing in line to vote at any polling place.

Violation of this section is a crime, albeit a misdemeanor.

The state of Georgia holds primary elections during or near summer. Summer is hot in Georgia, and the state is the seventh most humid in the country. Voting lines can be long in Georgia, and will be longer now due to the new law decreasing voting places and limiting drop boxes to either one per county or one per 100,000 people, whichever is smaller. People standing in long lines in the summer heat will get thirsty. Perhaps they will not have brought water with them. The urge to give a drink of water to a thirsty person in a long line in the Georgia heat is something very human, very Christian. What is neither human nor Christian is having to do so by putting the drink on a 26 foot pole.

This is the one thing that got America’s immediate attention, one person in particular: the President of the United States, who, during his first press conference, called it “sick.” Nielson reports 32 million people watched him live.

Biden calling out the provisions dealing with absentee ballots or early voting would have left many saying, “Well that’s a matter of opinion. He’s a Democrat, so, of course, he’ll criticize a new law Republicans wrote.”

But there’s no “matter of opinion” about the water. It’s a Black and White thing (the whole law is, but this part is special). If Georgia’s Republican legislators had told the genius who came up with it, “Now, hold on, son, we can get what we want without this,” it would have been ever so much harder to get corporate America to go full out in opposition.

Republicans in Georgia, especially Governor Kemp, are not backing down. No, they’re doubling down. But they’ve now set something in motion that will be hard to stop. And former friends in high places are aligned against them. In the long run, the Georgia Election Integrity Act may prove to be the best thing that ever happened to the Democratic Party in Georgia — and beyond.