Ruben Navarrette: Corporate backlash against Georgia voting law causes elephants to dance in circles

Summary: Now that it has gotten its feelings hurt by the backlash to the Georgia voting law, the GOP hasn't just lost its bearings. It has lost its mind.

Ruben Navarrette column
Ruben Navarrette commentary
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SAN DIEGO — As Americans bicker over Georgia 's new voting statute, I can't tell if we're all talking about the same law.

Supporters insist the legislation is simply about preventing voter fraud, preserving election integrity and making sure every vote counts.

That sounds lovely. But it's fiction.

What the Georgia law is really about is resisting demographic changes in the Peach State (which is now 10% Latino and 32.6% African American). It's about protecting White Republicans by discouraging non-whites from voting. And it's about calling attention away from the embarrassing fact that Republicans couldn't deliver a GOP-controlled state to Donald Trump in November, and that Georgia then went on to lose two Senate seats in runoffs in January.

Democrats could have stopped right there, made that argument and said nothing else. What fun would that be? Of course, they went further. They oversold their outrage, and made themselves look silly.


President Joe Biden has previously called the Georgia law "Jim Crow on steroids." This week, Biden doubled down on hyperbole when he said "these new Jim Crow laws are just antithetical to who we are."

That sounds awful. But it's just more fiction.

Here's the truth.

U.S. history, common sense and human nature tell us that voting bills come in only two varieties: those that expand the franchise, and those that limit it. The Republican-backed Georgia bill, which has been aggressively defended by Gov. Brian Kemp, falls into the second camp.

Context matters. The law comes after a string of GOP losses, which was fueled by historically high turnout among Latinos and African Americans. The bill should be titled "The Republican Protection Act," because it is designed to prevent the GOP from losing future elections in a Dixie state that is becoming more racially diverse.

Some big corporate players based in Atlanta — namely Coca-Cola and Delta Airlines — publicly condemned the Georgia bill. This angered cultural conservatives, who told the corporations to butt out because voting isn't about soft drinks or air travel.

That was dumb. Coca-Cola and Delta have presumably, over the years, paid millions of dollars in local and state taxes in Georgia. They have the right to speak up when the state takes a wrong turn.

Likewise, Major League Baseball had every right to decide that it didn't want to be associated with Georgia, and so it moved its annual All-Star Game from Atlanta to Denver.


Conservatives insisted that Colorado has a voting system that is much like one that Georgia will now have.

What they miss is that Colorado didn't just pass a bill to restrict voting in response to changing demographics and election losses.

Meanwhile, this week, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said it was "quite stupid" for corporations to wade into political battles.

On Monday, McConnell told reporters at a press conference: "My advice to the corporate CEOs of America is to stay out of politics. Don't pick sides in these big fights."

On Tuesday, McConnell dug himself in deeper when, at another press conference, he added this about corporate leaders: "They have the right to participate in the political process…[But] if I were running a major corporation, I'd stay out of politics."

This is the same Mitch McConnell who — having raised millions of dollars in the last few decades from corporate PAC's and private corporate donors — sucks up corporate contributions like a vacuum sucks up dust. McConnell has also spent years fighting against attempts to restrict corporate giving. Clearly, the Republican is interested in what corporate leaders give, but he couldn't care less what they think.

On Wednesday, McConnell corrected himself.

"I didn't say that very artfully yesterday. They're certainly entitled to be involved in politics. They are. My principal complaint is they didn't read the darn bill."


My complaint about Republicans is that these tantrums over corporations that grow a conscience have shown them to be a bunch of phony hypocrites who don't believe in anything but their own survival.

The old Republicans hated whining, victimhood, cancel culture, racial fear-mongering, identity politics and forcing Christian bakeries to bake cakes for same-sex weddings.

The new Republicans are whiny victims who use identity politics to scare White people, depict corporations as bullies and threaten to "cancel" companies that choose not to do business in a given state.

Now that it has gotten its feelings hurt by the backlash to the Georgia voting law, the GOP hasn't just lost its bearings. It has lost its mind.

Ruben Navarrette can be reached at .
© 2021, The Washington Post Writers Group

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