by Bob Barr
The confluence of COVID-19 and the election of Joe Biden has created a federal leviathan that considers no problem as too small or off-limits for federal involvement. This makes Republican governors the last line of defense against a full federal takeover of states. Thankfully, in this respect the GOP is stronger than one might think.
Republican governors by and large have not let 2020’s election defeat distract them from proving themselves to voters ahead of the crucial 2022 and 2024 elections. Most notable among this group are Governors Ron DeSantis of Florida, Greg Abbott of Texas, Kristi Noem from South Dakota, and Brian Kemp from my home state of Georgia.
Tested simultaneously by the pandemic, the federal government’s response to COVID, Biden’s disastrous economic policies, and urban crime, these governors have shown repeatedly to voters the value of governing according to consistent, conservative principles.
It is no coincidence that those states that are doing better than others are those governed by Republicans, who understand that the best response to COVID-19 was not to run into the basement and turn off the lights.
Beginning with Georgia, and soon followed by Florida and Texas, states quickest to reopen after the initial COVID “lockdown” consistently have demonstrated far more resiliency to this perfect storm of economic and social challenges, than states opting to rely on the heavy hand of government.
For example, while California’s and New York’s unemployment rates are 7.3 and 6.9 percent respectively, Georgia’s remains at an all-time low of 3.1 percent; Florida and Texas also remain low, at 4.6 and 5.4 percent.
This is no fluke. There is an ongoing, seismic realignment of economic centers in the United States, as major corporations and small business entrepreneurs flee states run by politicians who only see them as piggy banks and punching bags. The ability of “Red” state governors to keep workers working and taxes low, has contributed to a flood of businesses launching in or relocating to these states.
Georgia announced recently what Governor Kemp called its largest single economic development project – electric vehicle manufacturer Rivian’s new $5 billion manufacturing plant – which will add an estimated 7,500 jobs to the more than 80,000 recently created in the state. Texas too, has proven to be an attractive new home for California corporations fed up with progressive browbeating. Elon Musk specifically pointed to this bullying as a reason why he was moving Tesla headquarters from Palo Alto to Austin.
Not surprisingly, Georgia remains the number one place to do business, with Florida and Texas joining the Peach State in the top ten. Neither New York nor California makes the cut.
Democratic governors may look at the success of their Republican peers and scratch their heads, but there is no secret to the sauce, other than the demonstrable fact that combining capitalism and federalism works.
When the federal government attempted to shut down the economy, these governors pushed back to protect their businesses from ruin. More broadly, when it is the contemporary trend to look to the federal government to solve myriad local problems (from smash-and-grab flash mobs to violence in schools), Republican governors refused to surrender their autonomy to Uncle Sam. Florida’s DeSantis proposed reviving a civilian military force that could not be commandeered by federal authorities, while Georgia’s Kemp cracked down on violent crime in Atlanta after city leaders refused to recognize a reality that conflicted with the Democratic Party’s social justice narrative.
The results speak for themselves. In states with strong Republican leadership, economies are booming, crime is being contained, and citizens are enjoying the right to determine for themselves what is best for their families. In states that have surrendered their autonomy to Leftist puppet masters in D.C., citizens bounce from one arbitrary mandate to the next, while watching businesses all around them shut down.
So long as voters elect principled, conservative leaders who have the brains and the spine to keep the federal government out of state and local issues affairs, they will continue to enjoy the fruits of such leadership. For those in less free states, they are welcome to join us here in Georgia and elsewhere in the south – but they had best leave their liberal politics at the state line.