Georgia lawmakers are starting to experience blowback from their passage of a wide-ranging law designed to keep conservatives in power by erecting barriers to voting, especially for Black people and other minorities. Major League Baseball has decided to move the All-Star game out of state, and officials at Georgia-based corporations such as Coca-Cola and Delta Airlines are speaking out.
Hearing corporate leaders blast the bill for what it is – the worst attack on the right to vote since Jim Crow – was too much for Ralph Reed, a Georgia resident and longtime Christian nationalist operative. Reed, who ran the Christian Coalition for TV preacher Pat Robertson in the 1990s and who founded the Faith & Freedom Coalition after his attempt at a political career crashed and burned, took to the airwaves recently to admonish the business community for accepting “the lies that have been told about this bill by the radical left.”
Appearing on America Family Radio, Reed harrumphed, “If these corporate CEOs keep this up, they better watch out because the left is already after their industry with taxes, regulations, boondoggles, and massive spending and regulations. The only friends [the CEOs] have got in terms of protecting their jobs and their industries is on the right, and if they keep kicking [them] in the teeth and telling lies about commonsense election reform like this, they may find themselves with no friends at all, on either side of the aisle.”
More likely, these CEOs are waking up to the fact that attempting to prevent huge swaths of people from voting is unethical as well as bad for the bottom line. After all, do you really want to move your company into a state stuck in the 1950s, a place where many of your workers will find it difficult to access the ballot?
Reed and his Christian nationalist cronies are hard at work trying to portray the Georgia law as needed reform. But as has been noted repeatedly, there was absolutely no widespread fraud in Georgia or any other state during the 2020 election, hence no need for “reform.” The fact that we pulled off an election so flawlessly in the middle of a raging pandemic is cause for celebration, not tearing down a proven, workable system.
Georgia’s bill is a power grab by the state’s GOP leaders who are smarting over the fact that President Joe Biden won the state and Democrats captured two U.S. Senate seats. Their response to that isn’t subtle – they’re making it harder for the people who backed Biden to vote. As The New York Times noted in its in-depth analysis of the new law, “The Republican legislature and governor have made a breathtaking assertion of partisan power in elections, making absentee voting harder and creating restrictions and complications in the wake of narrow losses to Democrats.”
Reed supports this law not because he wants to uphold “election integrity” or “close loopholes” for voting by mail but because he has always been a partisan operative. Over the course of Reed’s career, he has had one goal: putting the most extreme social conservatives in power so they’ll pass laws that shoehorn a rigid, intolerant form of fundamentalist Christianity into our laws and policies.
Reed’s problem is that this scam isn’t working so well these days. As states like Georgia become purple, Reed and his allies know the only way their favored candidates can stay in power is to game the system and cheat. That’s what Georgia’s new law is about.
One could argue that Georgia’s business leaders could have been more aggressive while the bill was being debated, but they’ve made it clear now that they don’t stand with the brigade of vote-denying Christian nationalists. No amount of bloviating by Reed is likely to change that.