Op-ed: There’s No Room for Neutrality, The Business Community Must Stand Against Voter Suppression

Op-ed: There’s No Room for Neutrality, The Business Community Must Stand Against Voter Suppression

By John Jackson, Chair of DeKalb County Democratic Committee

Since 2016, former President Donald Trump has attacked our democracy by preeminently calling the election results rigged if he lost. This attack has had dire results — an attack on the capitol and now an attack on voting rights, reigniting the discrimination Black voters have faced since the Jim Crow era. Atlanta has had a history of collaborating with the business community to advance the economic interest of Georgia, called the Atlanta Way. Now, we need this same collaboration to advance the interest of voting rights. We have no room for neutrality when the majority of our state legislature is standing on the wrong side of history with these anti-democratic bills that would potentially fix elections.

The Republican Party refused to confront the reality that Donald Trump lost. It did not matter that Trump-supporting Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger confirmed that there was no widespread fraud. It did not matter that fierce Trump-loyalist Attorney General William Barr confirmed that there was no widespread fraud. It did not matter that judges across the country, including the conservative-leaning United States Supreme Court with three judges appointed by Trump, shot down Trump’s frivolous lawsuits. It did not even matter that this lie led to the loss of life during a domestic terrorist attack on the Capitol, January 6th. Facts simply do not matter with the current Republican Party. All that matters is holding on to power. Therefore, nationwide they are pushing the worst voter restrictions since the Jim Crow Era. And Georgia has become the epicenter of this fight.

From 1900 to 1965, Jim Crow Laws impeded on the Civil Rights of African Americans in the South. Nearly five decades later, the Georgia Republicans are mimicking the Dixiecrats of the Jim Crow Era with voter restrictions after Georgia elected its first African American US Senator – the Reverend Raphael Warnock. Those who support or go silent on these measures are very much supportive or, at a minimum, complicit in white supremacy.

The General Assembly Omnibus Bills, which include Senate Bill 241 and House Bill 531, are blatant attacks on Black voters. However, these bills will impact Georgians of all backgrounds and political parties. These pieces of legislation will restrict ballot boxes, eliminate no excuse absentee ballots, activate discriminatory requirements on absentee ballots, limit weekend voting, criminalize line warming, and strip the democratically-elected Secretary of State of control over elections.

In 2021, it is incredibly important that leaders in the business community and politics alike consider what they want their legacy to be. This will indisputably be a time when democracy was under sharp attack. Will Atlanta’s Fortune 500 remain neutral? Or will they rise to the occasion?

John Jackson Bio: John Jackson was elected Chair of DeKalb County Democratic Committee in a special election in December 2019 and was re-elected for a 2-year term full-term in January of 2021. In John’s time as chair, DeKalb County Democrats have made a major impact on state and nation’s politics by playing a major role in the DeKalb County turnout that led to winning the Presidential and US Senate races in Georgia. Within the Democratic Party of Georgia, John also chairs the Veterans and Military Families Caucus. He is a seasoned political consultant that most recently worked on the campaign of Senator Raphael Warnock. Outside of politics, John has worked in the financial services industry for nearly 8 years and is a veteran of the United States Marine Corps. John holds an MS in Economics from Georgia State University and BA in Political Science from the University of Tennessee. He can be directly reached at 615-337-3453 or at [email protected].