by Bob Barr
Editor’s note: We endeavor to bring you the top voices on current events representing a range of perspectives. Below is a column arguing that the current boycott against Georgia will not be effective in changing the state’s new voting law. You can find a counterpoint here, where Alan Tonelson argues that boycotts like the one against Georgia can be highly effective and may cause a wave of similar boycotts.
Anyone searching for reasoned analysis or common sense in the decision by Major League Baseball to pack up this summer’s All-Star Game in Atlanta and trek it across the country to Colorado, are doomed to be disappointed. Also destined to be let down will be liberals hoping that the brouhaha surrounding the recent reform of Georgia’s voting laws will push Gov. Brian Kemp and fellow Georgia Republicans to back away from the ballot reform measures they worked so hard to pass.
The ultimate question, of course, is whether Peach State voters will remember this controversy as a deciding factor a year and a half from now when Kemp, Democratic Sen. Ralph Warnock and dozens of other candidates from both major parties seek reelection. Only time will answer that political conundrum.
But for now, and certainly once the dust kicked up by MLB’s precipitous decision dies down after the summer classic in Denver, it likely will be a return to business as usual in Georgia.
The improbability that Democrat hopes for a surge of corporate support for their “woke” voting rights movement will grab hold in the short term, results from a number of factors. Most important among these is the fact that Kemp is in his first term as the state’s chief executive, is already actively campaigning for a second term, and knows that the Republican electorate stands firmly behind his instinctive move to stand up to corporate shakedowns.
The last time a Georgia governor was pressured by corporations unhappy with a piece of legislation backed strongly by conservative interest groups, was in 2016 when Kemp’s predecessor, Nathan Deal, vetoed the “Religious Liberty” bill. Looking to retain corporate support for his final biennium in office and with an eye on his fast-approaching post-electoral career, Deal sided with big business. The most recent voting reform legislation signed March 25, however, is very different, and Kemp already has shown himself a savvy and nuanced politician.
Democrats are riding high after their electoral victories last November and this past January, and ballyhoo that the legislation is nothing more than a vehicle for minority voter suppression. Such charges carry little weight outside partisan circles, however, and the new law itself includes measures, such as requiring voter ID to obtain an absentee ballot, that are supported by a wide swath of voters. The 2016 legislation, by contrast, was viewed by many as an unnecessary piece of social engineering.
Moreover, while pressures against the Georgia voting reform law continue to percolate in Hollywood and a handful of woke corporate executive suites, the vast majority of public corporations are not about to risk the billions already invested in Georgia. Delta also knows that with Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport being the world’s busiest, the jet fuel tax break it receives thanks to action by the Republican-controlled legislature, which could be easily rescinded (and nearly was last month after Delta joined in the anti-Kemp chorus), means millions in revenue every month.
Despite partisan grumbling about how the new law disenfranchises minority voters, movie producers and investors will be reminded pointedly by state GOP leaders that they would be hard pressed to find any other state willing and able to grant the massive tax relief now offered them by Georgia, which has the largest movie production facilities of any state other than California.
When the dust settles, as it assuredly will by mid-summer, the bottom line will remain the bottom line for businesses headquartered in or that invest heavily in Georgia — under GOP leadership, Georgia is good for business. Kemp, who already has withstood bullying by no less a bully than Donald Trump, will prove no pushover to woke corporate pressure, especially pressure premised on ignorance or deliberate mischaracterization of legislation favored by a majority of his constituents.
With the exception of the now-infamous “no-water-while-waiting-in-line-to-vote” provision in the legislation, language that could and perhaps should be tweaked to better enunciate its goal of prohibiting one of the many clever ways Democrats in fact politick voters, look for Georgia’s “Election Integrity Act of 2021” to remain the law of the land.
Bob Barr represented Georgia’s Seventh District in the U.S. House of Representatives from 1995 to 2003. He served as the United States Attorney in Atlanta from 1986 to 1990 and was an official with the CIA in the 1970s. He now practices law in Atlanta, Georgia and serves as head of Liberty Guard.