Woke capitalism’s Texas showdown

16 April 2021

7:41 AM

16 April 2021

7:41 AM

We live in the wackiest of times, when woke corporate leaders should propagandize for promoting ‘racial equity’.

They tried it in Georgia, to no avail. The state passed a law to improve a haphazard, disorderly voting process shaped (or unshaped) by pandemic requirements. The heads of two Georgia-based corporations, Coca-Cola and Delta Airlines, scowled. Their finger-wagging lectures to non-woke state leaders were absurd but much publicized.

Major League Baseball wasn’t going to put up with being ignored on a matter unrelated to game length and such like. In a door-slamming, cat-kicking snit, MLB announced it was moving the All-Star Game from Atlanta, capital of the offending state, to Denver. Take that, all you Trump fans! And any other states, like Texas, considering a swift return to the disenfranchisement of black people — watch it, you hear?

Watch what? That’s the real question. The Texas legislature’s proposed voting reforms are ‘racist’ solely in the eyes of those who spot racism in throat-clearings and dog toys. That’s to say, in everything.

The Texas Senate’s bill is called the Election Integrity Protection Act of 2021. Its purpose: ‘to prevent fraud in the electoral process’. The racism imputed to the bill’s supporters (Republicans — you know, probably voted for Trump over Biden) consists in provisions that would allow ‘watchmen’ at polling places, abolish voting in your car and forbid the mailing-out of unrequested absentee ballots.

Gosh, what impositions! Personally asking for an absentee ballot! Getting out of your car to vote, or else acknowledging physical disability through utilizing the absentee process! Gov. Greg Abbott accuses progressive-tilting Harris County of mailing out, in the last election, unsolicited ballot applications to millions ineligible to vote by mail.

You can see, easily enough, the ideological advantages inherent in such a plan — or in any like plan that might be concocted, de-privileging the responsibilities of citizenship in the same way Southern Democratic bosses, a century and a half ago, resorted to bribing black voters. You don’t want people of color, do you, imagining they’re perpetually getting used by the system: valued less for their intelligence and character than for their sheer reliability.

Race, race, race: isn’t that what this voting reform thing is all about? Up to a point. Beneath the surface is the power question that informs all political controversies. Somebody or other wants to run the show, to tell others what to do and how to do it.

Efforts to maintain power can generate unappealing arguments and action, but that’s not what goes on in Georgia and Texas, where the seizure of power from those who wield it is the dynamic in play. It’s led to preposterous contentions. Take Beto O’Rourke’s feverish declaration that the Texas Senate’s reform bill is ‘a voter suppression bill targeting working Texans, communities of color’. The liberal Houston Chronicle calls the legislation ‘the Texas Voter Harassment Act’.

As Joe Biden would say, c’mon, man. This is absolutely over the top — unconnected to reality. It’s ‘harassment’ to make you request your own absentee ballot? Yes, and what makes ‘working Texans’ and ‘communities of color’ more unlikely than anyone else to study up and vote honestly? Rhetorical bilge is all that foes of the legislation have to throw at it.

Not that bilge isn’t in large supply these days, in corporate headquarters as well as newsrooms. Texas, improbably for a pro-free market state, has its own component of woke capitalists. American Airlines, which headquarters in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, has declared itself ‘strongly’ against the Senate’s legislation.

‘Voting is the hallmark of our democracy,’ AA insists, ‘and is the foundation of our great country. We value the democratic process and believe every eligible American should be allowed to exercise their [sic] right to vote, no matter which political party or candidate they [sic] support… At American, we believe we should break down barriers to diversity, equity, and inclusion in our society — not create them.’

Well, duh. Who says otherwise? The Republicans promoting the bill? In what context? What provision of the bill would overthrow Americans’ sense of American ideals?

Wherein lies the problem. Critics of voter reform legislation unfailingly fail to show how measures meant to entrench honesty at the polls undermine the democratic process — unless we need a little less honesty around here, recognizing as we should that crooks and cheats deserve representation too

The Texas legislation is going to pass, given Republican control of the legislature; the governor is going to sign the bill; and then the legal fraternity is going to get busy, filing lawsuits, doubtless in the aggrieved language test-driven during the current debates. Given the present composition of the US Supreme Court, you are entitled to hope the new law will largely survive — that a little more honesty will somehow show its face around American polling places. But the background racket in our present so-called debate over reform isn’t a sign of encouraging things to come.

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