Georgia governor Brian Kemp can’t seem to win, at least when it comes to former president Donald Trump. First, Kemp supported the integrity of the vote in the 2020 presidential election despite the pressure Trump put on him to replace the electors, and despite publicly ridiculing and humiliating him, calling him a loser.
Then Kemp quickly signed into law new voting provisions that one either likes or doesn’t, depending on your political perspective. Trump retorted that Kemp didn’t go far enough because among other things, Georgia voters can still request an absentee ballot, no questions asked.
I don’t have a problem with requiring some kind of ID for the absentee ballot. Despite no showing of any significant fraud in the presidential election, requiring some kind of verifiable identification, such as a drivers license, is not so onerous that it should be labeled voter suppression. Elderly people get to their doctors, the grocery store, church, visit family and friends, so it seems reasonable that they can get a government ID. Many also have direct deposit or get a paper check from Social Security that they deposit---which requires some kind of government ID, as does airline travel, entering into a federal government building, and so many more of our daily activities. The importance of providing the ID is not that it will eliminate fraud. What it will eliminate, at least with rational people, is the perception of fraud. And in Georgia, especially among Republicans, perception matters.
Republicans, who in large numbers still believe the election was stolen from Trump, have yet to explain how Republican candidates down ballot won convincingly, despite polls projecting substantial losses, and to identify the perpetrators of this alleged clever and complex scheme.
Fox News, lawyers Sidney Powell and Rudy Giuliani, and pillow man Mike Lindell would love to have this evidence that over 60 courts were unable to substantiate, now that they are defendants in multibillion dollar lawsuits against them for defamation. But true believers remain despite Giuliani telling a court in Pennsylvania that he wasn’t alleging fraud, and Powell now saying that “no reasonable person” would believe that her lies about election fraud “were truly statements of fact.”
But Georgia Republicans were determined to ensure that there would be no fraud in future elections despite then Attorney General Bill Barr, one of Trump’s biggest sycophants, stating there was no evidence of widespread fraud that would have affected the election outcome. Too many other Republicans to list agreed with Barr.
Kemp is defending the Georgia bill as he holds it up against other states election laws to demonstrate that it grants more expansive voting rights. Considering that Kemp was one of the state’s biggest defenders of the 2020 Georgia election, “surely” political considerations didn’t motivate him to become the biggest supporter of the changes. And running for reelection in 2022, a race that will likely include a primary opponent, surely couldn’t have been a factor.
In March, the Arizona attorney general argued before the U.S. Supreme Court that two restrictive provisions of the state’s voting laws should be reinstated after an appellate court overturned them. In response to a question why, the AG said, “Because it puts us at a competitive disadvantage relative to Democrats.”
Even more revealing is a statement in a recent National Review column written by Andrew C. McCarthy in a defense of the law, “It would be far better if the franchise were not exercised by ignorant, civics-illiterate people, hypnotized by the flimflam that a great nation needs to be fundamentally transformed rather than competently governed.”
A local columnist who frequently and cynically asks about a politician’s PR director, might have asked if someone advised Kemp about the optics of it now being a misdemeanor if any person approaches a voter waiting on line outside within defined distances, and offering a voter water or food items like a bag of Delta size Cheetos.
The ultimate irony in this provision is the concern the Republican state legislature had that a voter might be persuaded to change their vote for such simple refreshments, BUT the same legislators, who enjoy lavish meals at the expense of lobbyists and special interests will look you directly in the eye and say they can’t be bought for a meal! I guess they are way smarter than the voters who put them in office.
The controversy over the new law got superheated when the CEOs of Atlanta based companies Delta and Coca Cola denounced it. Georgia House speaker David Ralston said, “You don’t feed a dog that bites your hand”, and then quickly got the House to vote against renewing a favorable tax provision for the airline. Considering the number of jobs both corporations provide around the state, maybe Ralston is confused and forgets that other states would love to woo either company away from Georgia.
Despite Coke providing free beverages to the Georgia capitol, Ralston said he would no longer allow their products inside the building. Others said they would follow suit and not fly Delta. Interestingly, since eighty percent of all flights in and out of Atlanta are on Delta, I wonder which airlines they will fly? Will they go the full distance with their self-righteousness and reject all campaign contributions coming from Delta and Coke?
Looks like the Democrats don’t have a monopoly on cancel culture after all. Actually, they never did. But Republicans only made it look that way---until now.