Because of the new voter suppression law passed by the Georgia state legislature, to boycott or not to boycott is the difficult question Georgia corporations, Georgia politicians, and Georgia citizens are now justifiably faced with. For some, the political consequences of the new law mean yes a Georgia boycott, for others the economic consequences of a boycott mean no Georgia boycott, but for all, whether to boycott or not to boycott should be based on what the consequences are for the future of Georgia’s democracy.
Major League Baseball (MLB) made a strong statement of support for the founding principle of American democracy, one person one vote, when it decided last week in favor of a Georgia boycott by moving its previously scheduled All-Star Game to another state. Reactions to the boycott created an odd display of bi-partisanship with Georgia’s Republican Governor Brian Kemp agreeing with his likely Democratic 2022 challenger, Stacy Abrams, and Georgia’s 2 Democratic U.S. Senators, John Ossoff and Raphael Warnock, that a Georgia boycott by the MLB is wrong even though the 2 sides blame each other for the boycott.
The new law that raises the question of a Georgia boycott, is falsely named the Election Integrity Act of 2021 when the more appropriate name would be the Voter Suppression Act of 2021, has created a schizophrenic reaction to it by the state’s largest employer, Delta Airlines, and the state’s most well-known brand, Coca Cola, with each stopping well short of initially criticizing the new law. Delta CEO Ed Bastian released an initial statement that said in part, “ The legislation signed this week improved considerably during the legislative process, and expands weekend voting, codifies Sunday voting and protects a voter’s ability to cast an absentee ballot without providing a reason.”
Coca Cola CEO released an initial statement that also implied acceptance of the new law. It said the company was “ active with the Metro Atlanta Chamber in expressing our concerns and advocating for positive change in voting legislation. We, along with our business coalition partners, sought improvements that would enhance accessibility, maximize voter participation, maintain election integrity and serve all Georgians.” Both companies reversed course after suggestions that the public should consider a boycott of their products and services.
Bastian released a company-wide memo that stated, “ The entire rationale for this bill was based on a lie: that there was widespread voter fraud in Georgia in the 2020 elections. This is simply not true, unfortunately, that excuse is being used in states across the nation that are attempting to pass similar legislation to restrict voting rights.” Coca-Cola CEO James Quincey released a statement saying, “ We want to be crystal clear and state unambiguously that we are disappointed in the outcome of the Georgia voting legislation. Throughout Georgia’s legislative session we provided feedback to members of both legislative chambers and political parties, opposing measures in the bills that would diminish or deter access to voting.”
Neither Gov. Kemp, Stacy Abrams, Sen. Ossoff, Sen. Warnock, Delta Airlines, nor Coca-Cola can be trusted to objectively answer the question of a Georgia boycott. They are all compromised by either understandable political or economic considerations. Even though each of their objectivity is compromised by different things they will all claim that a Georgia boycott is wrong for the same reason, that reason being the economic harm it will have on Georgia’s working people who can least afford it.
While the old reliable working people rationale appeals to the compassion of the heart and the logic of the head, it defies the truth of history!!! Specifically, the American Civil and Human Rights history that forced America, as Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. said, “ to be true to what you said on paper that all men are created equal” The American Civil Rights Movement was started by an economic boycott, the Montgomery bus boycott, that disproportionally, directly, and immediately negatively affected all of Montgomery’s working-class black citizens.
Dr. King, like Georgia’s Republican and Democratic politicians, realized the pain and sacrifices a boycott of buses would impose on Montgomery’s largest group of citizens that owned no cars. In an attempt to prevent the pain he developed a system of carpools. Unfortunately, it only mitigated the pain because some of Montgomery’s white employers would fire black employees who would use the carpool and not ride the bus to work, some white husbands forbade their white wives from using the family car to pick up their black maids and all black cab drivers would go to jail for charging black riders the same fare they would pay if riding the bus.
Despite the hardships caused by losing one’s main source of transportation, loss of employment for some Montgomery Blacks, and Dr. King like many others having to serve a prison sentence rather than pay the fine for being a carpool driver. The people hit the hardest by the boycott, Montgomery’s black citizens, refused to ride the buses for an entire year and the rest is American Civil Rights triumphant history.
The new Georgia law’s treachery goes well beyond forcing a citizen to sit in a certain section of a bus based on race. Most criticism of the law centers on the racial voter suppression aspects of it such as outlawing giving food and water to people waiting in line to vote or eliminating no-excuse absentee voting, while practically ignoring the most lethal aspect of the law, denying a citizen, regardless of race, their right to vote based on any reason that the political party in control wants too.
Georgia’s new Trumpocracy law gives the power and authority to whichever political party, Republican or Democrat, to overrule local election board operating procedures, invalidate votes from any part of the state for any reason, and invalidate any decision voted for by citizens for any reason. In other words had this law been already in effect, Georgia’s Republican-controlled state legislature would have had the power and authority to do what they wanted to do, what Donald Trump asked them to do, which was to say sorry America even though Georgia voters voted for Joe Biden we are going to award Donald Trump with the victory!!!
Those who refer to Georgia’s new law as Jim Crow 2.0 are correct. Because it is a new and improved version that now doesn’t stop at discriminating based on just race. A citizen in Georgia now can be denied the right to vote based on the political whims or ideology of the political party in control. The gerrymandering abuses we see every 10 years by both Democrat or Republican party-controlled state legislatures proves no political party whether Democrat, Republican, Green, or Libertarian can be trusted not to use power to advantage itself and disadvantage its opponent.
Beyond that, no political party, no religious authority, no economic power, or no individual should ever have the power or authority to invalidate any legally cast vote by a legal citizen, regardless of how or who they vote for!!! Georgia’s new Trumpocracy law gives the political party in control of its state legislature the power and authority to abolish one person one vote Georgia democracy.
This murderous assault on Georgia’s democracy answers the question of a Georgia boycott with a loud, earth trembling YES, boycott the state where democracy has been replaced with Trumpocracy, and YES boycott the state where the will of the people has been replaced by the will of whatever political party is in control of the state legislature. The estimated $100,000,000 loss to the Georgia economy caused by the All-Star Georgia boycott does fall disproportionately on working-class Georgia citizens.
This disproportional sacrifice by our working-class citizens is not new to American society. NBC Broadcasting icon Tom Brokaw labeled the generation of American citizens who fought and won World War 2 “The Greatest Generation”, the men and women who sacrificed their lives to make America the world’s superpower disproportionally came from America’s working-class not from the economic upper-class. As referenced earlier it was working-class American Blacks that disproportionately bore the pain of the Civil Rights Movement, and as the Covid-19 pandemic has revealed that there is only 1 nonworking-class job essential for America to function, that being the job of a doctor. American greatness exists because of the commitment, common sense, determination, and a willingness to sacrifice for the common good of all found in working-class Americans, the black and white people who built and continue to build America.
In the immediate and short term, a Georgia boycott hurts Georgia’s working-class the most. Long term Georgia’s working class will benefit the most if a Georgia boycott forces Georgia’s legislature to restore the only voice working-class people have at society’s decision table. Working-class citizens don’t have powerful lobbyists to speak for them or corporations that look out for their interest, all they have as a source of power to protect themselves is their voice expressed through their constitutional right to vote their choice.
$100,000,000 or even more is a cheap price to pay for the priceless privilege of a citizen casting a vote for whoever or whatever they freely choose to. No politician should be expected to discourage people or corporations from doing business with the state they represent.
But politicians who encourage people to boycott corporations who do not condemn Georgia for its new law, while at the same time discourage people from boycotting the state itself that implemented the Trumpocracy law are self-serving and counterproductive. Because it implies that others are being asked to make sacrifices that Georgia citizens themselves are not prepared to make. If there is ever a right time for a Georgia boycott to deal Georgia’s working-class citizens a hit to their individual financial bottom line, it’s now thanks to the trillion-dollar pandemic financial relief support provided by Democrats and President Biden.
Ironically Cobb County Chairwoman Lisa Cupid, the politician whose county is directly and most negatively affected by the loss of $100,000,000 and the All-Star Georgia boycott, had the most rational response when she said “ While I am certainly disappointed Major League Baseball decided to pull the All-Star Game out of Cobb County, Georgia, I certainly understand, we need to take this as an opportunity to reflect on what occurred, and to determine what we can do to address some of the challenges with this legislation, to encourage voter participation and inclusion in this state “
Martin Luther King Jr. summed up the sentiment for himself and all who fought and died in the Civil Rights Movement when he said “ If a man has not discovered something that he will die for, he isn’t fit to live.” For all Georgians the question is not whether to boycott or not to boycott, the question is if Georgians are not willing to make whatever sacrifice necessary for a one person one vote Georgia. Is it worth having a state at all!!!
Isaac Newton Farris Jr. is the nephew of Martin Luther King, Jr. and serves as Senior Fellow at the King Center. Growing up in one of the most socially and politically active families has given him a unique perspective on current events. Drop by his website for straight talk free of one-sided political spin.
Originally published at https://isaacnewtonfarris.com on April 13, 2021.