The latest national dustup over the new Georgia voting bill represents a microcosm of where we are as a society in 2021. And although the title might evoke images of Clint Eastwood as “Blondie” in that great spaghetti western, I hate to disappoint. However, if I were to use a movie reference, it would have to be from a more recent movie, Zoolander. For those uninitiated in the classics, the movie centers around Derek Zoolander, played by Ben Stiller, who works as a male model. In scene after scene, the movie mocks the world of high fashion, but one scene in particular encapsulates the way I feel about this nonsense over the Georgia election law. In the scene, Mugatu, played by Will Ferrell, pulls the “emperor has no clothes” card, trying to explain to everyone that Derek Zoolander has only ONE look – although he names over a dozen looks, they’re all the same. To add punch to the scene, he proclaims “I feel like I am taking crazy pills”. Amen, Mugatu, I’m right there with you.
As is the case with most things in our society, there is some good, some bad, and definitely plenty ugly.
The point of this article is not to argue the particulars of the election bill, but rather to demonstrate the absurdity surrounding it. The election bill represents the good in our society – it is a prime example of the representative republic working exactly as it was designed. It’s actually a very good system – the people, in this case Georgia voters, voted for individuals to represent them in the state senate. These senators, acting on behalf of their constituents, put forth legislation, voted on it, then sent the bill to the Governor. Sounds to me like the system works. In fact, this system is deployed in every jurisdiction in the land, resulting in 1000s of bill signed every year. As a matter of fact, in the year following a presidential election, there is a tendency for state legislatures to examine their existing election laws. The Brennan Center for Government analyzed the trend over the last three election cycles.
To make this election bill sound like an aberration or an outlier is disingenuous at best, and intellectually dishonest at worst.
Never wanting to waste an opportunity to grandstand, virtue signal, or otherwise act irresponsibly, our elected leaders could not wait to pounce on this latest example of our representative republic at work. Enter President Biden, who was set to give his first press conference of his new presidency on the very day that Governor Kemp signed the bill. Rather than discuss the bill, Biden attacked it by cherry picking portions of the bill. Apparently President Biden either doesn’t like cherries or even know how to pick them.
“What I’m worried about is how un-American this whole initiative is. It’s sick. It’s sick … deciding that you’re going to end voting at five o’clock when working people are just getting off work.”
- President Biden, March 25
This attack was fact-checked by the Washington Post.( https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2021/03/30/biden-falsely-claims-new-georgia-law-ends-voting-hours-early/)
But this is not actually the Bad part, as we have come to expect our elected officials to bend the truth. What is truly bad is Biden had to resort to the “Stop All Conversation” card – the R word. And boy did he use the R word! In an effort to let everyone know that the Georgia election was not only racist, but super-duper racist, he attempted to use an analogy, stating “It is the most pernicious thing- this makes Jim Crow look like Jim Eagle.”
Joe Biden’s ridiculous analogy only hastened the viral nature of this statement, as it very quickly became the meme topic of the day. I have never heard of Jim Eagle, but maybe that’s the point. In one set of statements about the Georgia election law, Biden accomplished the trifecta of political speech – rush to judgment on the law before the ink dries, distort portions of the law to fit your narrative, and then use racism to stifle any dissent. We’ve seen this movie over and over again.
Most of the dustups that litter our political landscape would usually end with the Bad, just circulating the social media landscape ad nauseam until the next existential threat appears after someone or something is cancelled. This one, however, is a bit different. The people calling for the cancellation are being cancelled themselves, and for heaven’s sake, this cannot stand. Enter the community activist, whose job is to stir things up in order to affect the social changes he or she desires. One cannot do these things without means, resources, or support – oh hell, let’s not beat around the bush – they need money. And where does this money come from? Perhaps local corporations who want to affect change in their neighborhoods? Perhaps? So this is the paradox that Stacey Abrams found herself in. On the one hand, she must declare the Georgia election law racist, which would trigger social media to call for justice from the local corporations. On the other hand, if the corporations get punished by the boycott, they may not be so willing to share some of their resources ($$) with Ms. Abrams. Quite the pickle, I must say – how in the world could she thread this needle?
“Boycotts are complicated affairs that require a long-term commitment to action. I have no doubt that voters of color, particularly Black voters, are willing to endure the hardships of boycotts. But I don’t think that’s necessary — yet.”
- Stacey Abrams, March 31
I’m not sure if there was actually a verbal pause before she hedged her bet with the word “yet”, but never has a three letter word carried so much meaning. Perhaps Ms. Abrams was trying to let her constituents understand that, although the boycott is a valuable tool to affect change, it is the “threat” of the boycott that carries more weight? Why else would she issue three demands, I mean suggestions, that Atlanta corporations follow in order to get their houses in order? (https://www.thewrap.com/stacey-abrams-pleads-in-new-video-dont-boycott-georgia-video/)
The second tragic figure in this Ugly saga is Tyler Perry, the entertainment magnate who makes his home and business in Atlanta. He joined Ms. Abrams in swearing off the idea of a boycott in Georgia by going after the Hollywood folks who instantly declared they would no longer make movies in Georgia.
“As some consider boycotting, please remember that we did turn Georgia blue and there is a gubernatorial race on the horizon – that’s the beauty of a democracy."
-Tyler Perry, March 31
Holy non sequiturs, Batman! I don’t even know where to start with this one. Perhaps he is worried about the effect a boycott may have on Georgia’s Entertainment Industry Investment Act?
The triumvirate of tragic figures is rounded out with newly elected senator, Dr. Raphael Warnock, who represents the purely political side of the equation. And although I put him last, I am the most offended by his explanation for no boycotts.
"It is not the people of Georgia or the workers of Georgia who crafted this law, it is politicians seeking to retain power at the expense of Georgians' voices."
- Senator Raphael Warnock, March 26
Although he is correct in his statement, the inference is that the people should not be punished by what the politicians do. And this is not only wrong, it is quite deceitful, for this is exactly how a representative republic works. Imagine if it was left up to the roughly four million residents of Georgia to craft a bill. Our system of representative government allows for the selection of 56 senators who represent the fine folks of Georgia, and in turn, enact laws on their behalf. Now that I got that off my chest, let’s assume Dr. Warnock is correct in his assessment that the voters who elected the politicians bear no responsibility for the law and thus should not be punished by a boycott. Riddle me this – if the voters who elect the politicians have absolutely no say in how the politicians govern, why is Dr. Warnock so concerned about voting in the first place?
Let’s move on from this – there are far more pressing things to discuss……Yeah, right!