freedom to discriminate

It’s a natural law: a pendulum, once swinging, will always reverse its course.

Sometimes, it takes forever for that pendulum to move the other way. Look at the State of Georgia, Democratic always until 2002, when the Republicans finally won the governor’s office. Up until then, the statehouse had been slowly moving toward a more conservative, Republican bent, with the GOP finally gaining control of both houses in 2004.

Suddenly there was a big elephant in the room with the Republicans in total control, much as the Democrats had held sway for years. Yet the GOP has remained in strong control, having the support of their conservative business partners, the banks, major corporations, and even average voters. It was beginning to look like the coming years would color Georgia solidly in the “red state” arena, with the Democratic Party shunted off to the side as a minority party.

Yet something happened recently which might indicate that we would see the pendulum shifting slightly.

Josh McKoon
Georgia State Senator Josh McKoon, Republican, District 29

It came because one element of the Republican Party adopted a “far right” stance, going in the direction of what some see as “too far.” The move came from Sen. Josh McKoon, the Republican far-right conservative, in speaking of opposition to his “religious liberty” bill, which was defeated twice in two years. Captured on a You Tube video, the senator had this to say:

“…. very large multi-national corporations that are headquartered in this state – their executives, many of whom are not from Georgia, have different values than you and I do. They think that their cultural norms, their liberal, far-left cultural norms, should be applied to our state.

“They think that they ought to be able to use the awesome power of government to do that. And that is why we have had the problem that we’ve had.

“When you have the CEO of Delta Air Lines saying that religious freedom is not in line with his company’s values, we’ve got a serious disconnect. We’ve got a serious problem.”

McKoon’s provocative statements take the bloom off the cozy previous relationships between the GOP and big business. It makes you wonder if this marriage will stick.

Shortly after his remarks, at least four major Georgia-based corporations, including Delta Air Lines, Coca Cola, Home Depot and UPS, all announced they remain opposed to the ”religious liberty” legislation.

Delta’s CEO, Richard Anderson, hasn’t backed off a bit. Not only that, but earlier he spoke out against a Republican tenet: raising taxes. He said: “We can’t get chicken about it. We have to step up,” Anderson said at a Metro Atlanta Chamber event in December. “If that means raising taxes to fund our roads, it means raising taxes to fund our roads.”

So what’s the upshot? Senator McKoon, in seeking to push his ultra-conservative agenda, may have gone far enough to antagonize key supporters of the GOP, that is, the corporate business community in Atlanta. Who would have thought that major Atlanta corporations would have found themselves opposing Republican tenets?

This raises the ultimate question: will this sort of treatment of the business community by the GOP make it easier for business to shift some of their support back to the Democrats, and make Georgia a more competitive political arena? If so, the Republicans (and happily, the Democrats) can thank Senator McKoon for losing that support.

Remember the basics: the pendulum always swings back.

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Editor's Note: This story first appeared at the Gwinnett Forum. Image: the is from Mr. McKoon's facebook page (fair use).
Elliott Brack

Elliott Brack

Elliott Brack is a native Georgian and veteran newspaperman. He published the weekly Wayne County Press for 12 years; was for 13 years the vice president and general manager of Gwinnett Daily News, and for 13 years was associate publisher of the Gwinnett section of The Atlanta Journal and Constitution. He now publishes, in retirement, Web sites on Gwinnett County, http://www.gwinnettforum.com, and Georgia news, http://www.georgiaclips.com.