My Turn: Boycott corporations to stand up for voting rights

For the Monitor
Published: 4/16/2021 9:00:08 AM

Public Citizen is a watchdog group that keeps an eye on corporate political donations and where they’re earmarked. The organization gives us a good look at how companies’ dollar contributions to national and state causes matches with their rhetoric about those politicians and causes.

Pertaining to the new, restrictive, Republican-fueled Georgia voting laws that are clearly intended to make it difficult to impossible for minority voters to exercise their rights, the recent wording from some of that state’s and our nation’s largest employers is worlds away from how their money has been spent.

Over the past six years an amazing number of America’s most well-known corporate giants have contributed millions of dollars directly to the right wing politicians who espouse that racist legislation, including the ones who just rewrote Georgia’s election rules. These national and international companies include AT&T, Comcast, Verizon, Walmart, GM, Philip Morris and UnitedHealth.

Despite all the pro-democracy quotes over the past weeks from Coca-Cola and Delta Air Lines, the only real dent in Georgia’s new GOP electoral protection armor was the resounding blow Major League Baseball effected by moving the July 13 All Star Game from Atlanta to Denver, a tremendously admirable move that has angered many of the white demographic that makes up much of baseball’s fan base (as well as players).

Commissioner of Baseball Rob Manfred showed great guts in striking this blow against Georgia’s post-Donald Trump salvo, against the election fairness that America is supposed to stand for, as well as summarily obliterating Lyndon Johnson’s 1965 Voting Rights Act in that state.

Low lights of the new Georgian laws include reducing the number of available drop boxes for ballots (Atlanta’s number being dropped from 94 to 23 in 2020), cutting down the request time for an absentee ballot to 11 days before an election and making it illegal to provide water or snacks to anyone waiting in line to vote. There are other new restrictions as well, but only in a nation now full of people who have lost whatever American-ness they may have formerly had somewhere along the line could get behind that last one.

This would be an economically efficacious time for our nation’s civic-minded shoppers and patrons to boycott all companies on the Public Citizen record of new restrictive voting laws. The economy is coming back, hiring has increased exponentially and our unemployment numbers despite last month’s surprising spike have decreased as well.

The boycott should continue until these corporations begin achieving real change in Georgia. They should keep forcibly speaking out against this right-wing nationwide drive that will disenfranchise many of their own customers, giving these companies an actual vested interest in forcing a curtailment of Georgia’s and other GOP-led states’ bigoted laws.

Corporations at this level have real clout and possess both financial and media use power to put tremendous pressure on the Georgian legislature, a legislature that threatens to run roughshod over the rights of millions of their own citizens. Other Republican-run states like Texas, Arizona and Florida are also busily proposing and changing voting laws to make it nearly impossible for a Democrat to win an election in the November 2022 midterms and beyond.

Real Americans are all hoping for the passage of President Joe Biden’s For The People Act that will hopefully cut off all the ugly Jim Crow fair election scuttling that is going on right before our very eyes. If the GOP has their way we’ll all be back in the To Kill A Mockingbird stage of race relations in the United States. And hopefully everyone knows exactly what that would mean.

(William F. Klessens lives in Salem)

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