George W. Bush condemns the Republican Party as ‘isolationist, protectionist’ and ‘nativist’ and says it’s scaring people about immigration

Former President George W. Bush on "Today" on Tuesday.
Former President George W. Bush on “Today” on Tuesday.

  • Former President George W. Bush called his own political party “isolationist, protectionist, and to a certain extent nativist” during a “Today” interview.
  • Bush is calling for immigration reform that he broadly describes as “border enforcement with a compassionate touch.”
  • “It’s an easy issue to frighten some of the electorate and I’m trying to have a different voice,” Bush said.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Former President George W. Bush called his own political party “isolationist, protectionist, and to a certain extent nativist” during a “Today” interview on Tuesday.

“It’s a beautiful country we have and yet it’s not beautiful when we condemn and call people names and scare people about immigration,” he said. “It’s an easy issue to frighten some of the electorate and I’m trying to have a different voice.”

Bush, who is coming out with a new book of his paintings, “Out of Many, One: Portraits of America’s Immigrants,” joked that his opinion is somewhat irrelevant.

“It’s not exactly my vision, but I’m just an old guy they put out to pasture, a simple painter,” he said.

During an interview with CBS News’ Norah O’Donnell that aired Sunday, Bush said that failing to pass immigration reform during his two terms in office was one of the biggest disappointments of his presidency.

Bush said he wants “border enforcement with a compassionate touch,” and that he isn’t “pro-immigration” because that involves “open borders.”

He called for a stronger asylum process with more judges and courts to handle asylees’ claims and reform of the visa system to allow more workers in to fill “empty” American jobs. Bush also argued there’s a shortage of “manpower” on the border to handle the steep rise in migrants, particularly children, who’ve crossed the US-Mexico border in recent months.

Bush didn’t support former President Donald Trump’s reelection, but didn’t make any public statement before the election. He has said the Jan. 6 Capitol siege made him “sick” and on Tuesday he lamented the pervasiveness of political misinformation online.

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Trump and Lindsey Graham are charging $25K to play in their golf tournament to raise funds for Republicans

trump golfing
President Donald Trump golfs at Trump National Golf Club on November 21, 2020in Sterling, Virginia.

  • Former President Donald Trump and South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham are teaming up to raise money for the GOP with a golf tournament.
  • They will charge participants in the Trump Graham Golf Classic $25,000 each.
  • Graham has emerged as a top ally to Trump post-presidency and has said Republicans have no future with the former president.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Former President Donald Trump and South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham are teaming up to raise money for their political group and other Republican interests with a Florida golf tournament.

The Trump Graham Golf Classic, which will be held at Trump International Golf Club in West Palm Beach on May 2, will cost participants $25,000 each. The fundraiser will benefit a few GOP political action committees and the Senate Republicans’ campaign arm, the National Republican Senatorial Committee, according to a Monday email announcement.

Graham has had a rocky relationship with the former president, who he once called a “kook” and “unfit for office,” and he criticized Trump’s attempts to overturn the presidential election. But the senator, who was largely a staunch Trump ally over the last four years, has since cozied up to the former president again and positioned himself as a leader of the MAGA movement.

The senator, a longtime golf partner of Trump’s, recently argued that Trump will remain an integral part of the GOP going forward.

“If he ran, it would be his nomination for the having,” Graham said of the former president in an interview earlier this year. “I don’t know what he wants to do. Because he was successful for conservatism and people appreciate his fighting spirit, he’s going to dominate the party for years to come. The way I look at it, there is no way we can achieve our goals without Trump.”

He told Fox News’ Sean Hannity in February, “We don’t have a snowball’s chance in hell of taking back the majority without Donald Trump. If you don’t get that, you’re just not looking.”

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John Boehner: The ‘so-called America First Caucus’ is ‘one of the nuttiest things I’ve ever seen’

John Boehner
Former House Speaker John Boehner.

  • Boehner slammed the effort by a group of House Republicans to create an “America First Caucus.”
  • On NBC’s “Meet The Press,” Boehner called the idea one of the “nuttiest” things he has witnessed.
  • “We ought to celebrate the fact that we are this giant melting pot,” he said.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Former GOP House Speaker John Boehner on Sunday derided the plan that several House Republicans had to form an “America First Caucus,” calling it one of the “nuttiest” things he has witnessed.

On NBC’s “Meet the Press,” Boehner, who served as speaker from 2011 to 2015, laced into the group.

“I can tell you that this so-called America First Caucus is one of the nuttiest things I’ve ever seen,” he said.

Punchbowl News on Friday reported that conservative GOP Reps. Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia and Paul Gosar of Arizona were building a Republican caucus centered on “Anglo-Saxon political traditions” that would, among other issues, oppose “mass immigration” and coronavirus-related lockdowns.

On Saturday, Greene said that she would not be spearheading an “America First Caucus,” adding that she had not read the document that Punchbowl News released the day before.

Read more: Visa’s PAC gave politicians $139,000 in March after vowing to pause contributions because of the Capitol insurrection

Boehner criticized the worldview of those who conceived of such a caucus.

“I have no idea how this even showed up,” he emphasized. “America is a land of immigration. We’ve been the world’s giant melting pot for 250 years. And we ought to celebrate the fact that we are this giant melting pot.

He added: “To see some members of Congress go off and start this America First Caucus is – it’s the silliest thing I’ve ever seen. And Republicans need to denounce it.”

GOP House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy of California reprimanded the effort through Twitter on Friday.

“America is built on the idea that we are all created equal and success is earned through honest, hard work,” he wrote. “It isn’t built on identity, race, or religion. The Republican Party is the party of Lincoln & the party of more opportunity for all Americans – not nativist dog whistles.”

Later in his interview, Boehner expressed regret for not reaching a deal on immigration reform with former President Barack Obama.

“Our immigration system is a mess,” he said. “It’s broken from top to bottom. And it needs to be fixed so that it’s fairer for Americans who are here and fairer for those who are trying to come here.”

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The recent slew of anti-trans bills shows the GOP brand is built on blocking progress and keeping marginalized people down

transgender rights rally new york city
L.G.B.T. activists and their supporters rally in support of transgender people on the steps of New York City Hall, October 24, 2018 in New York City.

  • Republicans have introduced a slew of anti-trans bills across the country, most notably in Arkansas.
  • This is just the latest example showing that the party is committed to stopping progress and keeping other Americans down.
  • Michael Gordon is a longtime Democratic strategist, a former spokesman for the Justice Department, and the principal for the strategic-communications firm Group Gordon.
  • This is an opinion column. The thoughts expressed are those of the author.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Republicans are the party of hate. The party of anti-. The party against progress. That is – and has been – their calling card for a generation.

Their motto should be: “We keep people down! We stand in the way of progress! Vote for us!” “

The latest – but not the last or first – group facing Republicans’ ire is transgender children. This was on full display in Arkansas, as the state recently passed a law that prevents transgender youth from accessing medical treatment to help their transition. And it seems this Arkansas law may only be the beginning of the GOP’s assault on trans kids.

But progress for transgender Americans is inevitable – and the Republican roadblocks are only temporary.

By the time we get to Arkansas

Among other things, the Republican brand proudly stands for standing against other Americans. It builds itself up by keeping others down. And the new law out of Arkansas is just the latest in a series of attacks on American’s civil rights and liberties.

Republicans have long been a roadblock on women’s rights. They opposed a 2019 vote on equal pay for women, and earlier this year, nearly every Republican in the House opposed the passage of the Equal Rights Amendment.

In 1994, the Violence Against Women Act, which combats sexual assault and domestic violence against women, passed nearly unanimously. But every so often the bill needs to be voted on again for reauthorization, and this year, 172 Republicans opposed the bill. The rot at the heart of the Republican Party has eroded bipartisan support for women’s rights.

Republicans have gone to great lengths to leverage racial divide for political gain. As an electoral strategy, the party is more focused on winning by making it harder to vote instead of winning over a broader segment of the population. New voting restriction laws and rhetoric we see from the GOP today are the logical conclusion of a 50-year plan to define the Republican Party in opposition to rights for African Americans.

Former President Richard Nixon took the politics of racial grievance to a new level by pioneering a “Southern Strategy” that thrived off of racism against Black Americans. And now new laws making it harder to vote and giving Republican legislatures more ability to meddle in elections are cropping up all over the country in a movement that Democratic Rep. Jim Clyburn of South Carolina called “the new Jim Crow.”

The Republican assault on non-whites extends to immigrants as well, with a white-nationalist talking point quickly taking center stage. Tucker Carlson is gleefully rehashing “replacement theory” for ratings gain, stating that immigrants are hell-bent on destroying and replacing white Americans. That this alt-right theory is proudly repeated on Fox News says everything you need to know about the modern GOP.

Republicans, naturally, have a long history of opposing LGBTQ rights – whether it be service in our military, the right to marry, or the ability to adopt children. But our country progressed, and Republicans could only slow, but not stop, the inevitable rights of LBGTQ Americans.

By the time we get to Arkansas, we know the playbook. Republicans will demean, delay and divide. They will dehumanize their fellow human beings. They will be the problem against progress. But the hearts and minds of Americans will be the triumph for trans Americans that beats back Republican fear.

The grand shrinking party

Trans Americans will be fully accepted and have every legal right eventually – but it won’t be because of Republicans. It will be despite Republicans.

Of course, there are vast numbers of good Republicans who aren’t Republicans because they live to hate. But their elected leaders are making cynical calculations about what makes some Americans tick. In doing so, they’re continuing to shrink what was once a big tent party.

As every group and American demographics simultaneously progress, Republicans will run out of people to hate and run out of people to turn off. And then they’ll just run out of people, living as a dramatically diminished party without inspiring ideas to take our country forward.

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The 10 GOP lawmakers who voted to impeach Trump have already received $6.4 million in donations this year – far more than their 2022 midterm opponents

trump wind
Former President Donald Trump.

  • Donors are giving millions to the GOP lawmakers who voted to impeach Trump.
  • Wyoming Rep. Liz Cheney, for example, received $1.54 million in the first three months of 2021.
  • They have received far more money than their prospective 2022 midterm opponents, who Trump has backed.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Republican lawmakers who voted to impeach former President Donald Trump have received more than $6 million in political donations between them since January – far more than their prospective opponents in the 2022 midterms.

Donations to the 10 lawmakers in the first three months of 2021 totaled $6.4 million, per new filings from the Federal Election Commission (FEC), first reported by Bloomberg. The money has come from GOP donors, conservative PACs, and even some Democrat donors, such as entrepreneur Kimbal Musk, Tesla CEO Elon Musk’s brother.

Three of the lawmakers – Kinzinger, Wyoming Rep. Liz Cheney, and Ohio Rep. Anthony Gonzalez of Ohio – had their biggest-ever quarters for political contributions, Bloomberg reported.

The GOP lawmakers have been ostracized by some members of the party since they voted to impeach Trump for inciting the January 6 Capitol riots, and Trump has urged other candidates to run against them in the 2022 midterms. Illinois Rep. Adam Kinzinger was even accused of treason by members of his own GOP-supporting family.

So far, 15 challengers have announced primary bids against the incumbents in the 2022 midterms, though one incumbent, Rep. John Katko, is currently unopposed. The challengers have collectively raised $1.9 million this year, Bloomberg reported.

Here’s how much the GOP lawmakers raised between January 1 and March 31, per the FEC:

  1. Rep. Liz Cheney (Wyoming): $1.54 million
  2. Rep. Adam Kinzinger (Illinois): $1.15 million
  3. Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler (Washington): $744,750
  4. Rep. Anthony Gonzalez (Ohio): $616,524
  5. Rep. Peter Meijer (Michigan): $519,741
  6. Rep. John Katko (New York): $436,291
  7. Rep. Tom Rice (South Carolina): $404,731
  8. Rep. Fred Upton (Michigan): $360,392
  9. Rep. David Valadao (California): $322,144
  10. Rep. Dan Newhouse (Washington): $289,493

Cheney topped the list with $1.54 million in funding between January 1 and March 31, the FEC filings show. This includes $10,000 from Mitt Romney’s Believe in America PAC, and $5,600 from her father, former Vice-President Dick Cheney.

Liz Cheney
Rep. Liz Cheney has been an outspoken critic of Trump.

Cheney has said she would not support Trump if he were the 2024 GOP nominee, and has accused him of “embracing insurrection.”

The FEC data shows that some PACs and individual donors gave to each of the 10 Republicans who voted to impeach, suggesting blanket support for lawmakers who stood up to Trump.

Read more: These 10 high-profile Republicans who dumped Trump are mostly wary to back Biden’s re-election. At least for now.

These included some major Democratic donors who crossed the party line. Both Baupost Group CEO Seth Klarman and Lone Pine Capital CEO Stephen Mandel gave $2,900 to each lawmaker, Bloomberg reported.

Restaurateur Kimbal Musk, typically a Democrat donor, gave $2,800 to each of them.

Some lawmakers loyal to Trump have also received a flood of donations. Georgia Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene raised $3.2 million in her first three months in Congress, the FEC’s records show. Greene has repeatedly spread Trump’s voter-fraud conspiracy theories, which have been thoroughly debunked.

marjorie taylor greene
Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene received $3.2 million in her first three months.

The size of Greene’s haul is almost unheard of for a first-term congresswoman, Insider’s Grace Panetta reported. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, in comparison, brought in $726,000 in her first quarter in office in 2019.

Trump said on March 10 that he expected Republicans to regain control of the House and Senate in the 2022 midterm elections and win back the White House in 2024.

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GOP donors and lawmakers reportedly discussed how to tackle big tech during an RNC event at Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort

trump grifting
The event took place at Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida.

  • Key GOP players discussed the future of big tech and social media at the RNC donors’ summit, CNBC reported.
  • Wisconsin Sen. Ron Johnson told the publication he spoke to attendees about bias in social media.
  • Republicans and social media sites are at loggerheads over blockings and content moderation.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Key Republican figures spent some of the weekend mulling plans for the future of big tech at former president Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida, according to a report by CNBC.

The gathering last weekend saw Republican donors, lawmakers, and strategists discuss their plans for tackling big tech, social media, and corporate America last weekend, the publication reported.

Attendees discussed a “strategy on social media and big tech,” Matt Schlapp, chairman of the American Conservative Union and attendee at the retreat, told the publication.

CNBC reported that Wisconsin Senator Ron Johnson said he had taken part in conversations about “concern over bias and growing power of media and social media.”

The two groups have been at loggerheads over what Republicans see as the restriction of free speech and the social media platforms see as the removal of hate speech and misinformation from their sites.

After the January 6 attack on the US Capitol, social media giants rushed to crack down on Trump and his supporters, with Facebook and Twitter both suspending Trump’s accounts.

Twitter also purged 70,000 accounts associated with QAnon, blocked the accounts of Trump allies including Michael Flynn and Sidney Powell, and suspended the accounts of both Mike Lindell and his company MyPillow after he used them to spread voter-fraud conspiracy theories.

Many Trump supporters flocked to right-wing network Parler instead, but it was temporarily booted offlinee after its web host Amazon Web Services cut ties.

But Republicans are fighting back against the social media crackdown. Both Trump and Lindell are planning on launching their own platforms, and major Republican donor Roy Bailey told CNBC that he is interested in investing in a site where conservatives wouldn’t have to “worry about censorship.”

The discussions happened during the Republican National Committee’s donor summit, which was held largely at a Four Seasons hotel in Palm Beach, Florida.

The invite-only event lets Republican candidates mingle the party’s donors as they discuss the GOP’s strategy and direction.

The group headed to Mar-a-Lago on Saturday night for a speech from Trump, where he reportedly insulted Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and asked people to call the COVID-19 vaccine “Trumpcine.”

Schlapp told the publication that some attendees at the Mar-a-Lago event said they were “being cancelled” by insurance companies and banks and thought they weren’t being denied services because banks thought their businesses were too conservative.

He told CNBC that most of the conversations at Mar-a-Lago were “informal” and that the plans were still developing.

At other points during the RNC retreat, Florida Senator Marco Rubio criticized big tech companies over how they treat their staff and seemed to encourage GOP leaders to attract more support from union workers in the 2022 midterm elections, people briefed on the matter told CNBC.

In mid-March, Rubio became the first GOP senator to publicly endorse efforts by Amazon workers to form a union.

He wrote for USA Today that the tech giant had “waged a war against working-class values.”

Support for the unionization effort, which ultimately was defeated, came largely from Democrat lawmakers including Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren.

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John Boehner calls Trump ‘a guy who’s unemployed’ and ‘has nothing else to do but cause trouble’

John Boehner
Former House Speaker John Boehner.

  • During an interview on ABC’s “The View,” John Boehner called out Trump’s post-presidential behavior.
  • “Here’s a guy who’s unemployed, has nothing else to do but cause trouble,” he said.
  • Boehner expressed disappointment that Trump has misled his supporters about the election results.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Former GOP House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio on Monday blasted former President Donald Trump as an “unemployed” individual who is out to “cause trouble” after losing his reelection bid last year.

During an appearance on ABC’s “The View,” Boehner, who is promoting his forthcoming book, “On the House: A Washington Memoir,” was asked by co-host Sara Haines when the GOP would have a “wake-up call” regarding the former president’s continued false claims that he won the 2020 presidential election.

At the Republican National Committee’s donor summit in Florida last weekend, Trump reportedly repeated the claim that the election was “stolen” from him.

“Here’s a guy who’s unemployed, has nothing else to do but cause trouble,” Boehner said. “Clearly, it’s obvious to me that he’s not going away.”

After the November general election and even after President Joe Biden was officially declared the winner, the Trump campaign unsuccessfully sought to overturn the election results in a range of swing states.

Read more: Introducing Todd Young, the most important senator you’ve never heard of

Boehner criticized Trump for continuing to push the false narrative that voter fraud cost him the election – even in the aftermath of the deadly Jan. 6 Capitol riot prompted by his repeated lies.

“The president abused the loyalty and the trust that voters had placed in him by perpetuating this noise,” he said. “It was really one of the sadder things I’ve seen in the last 40 years in politics.”

When Haines asked Boehner why current Republican officeholders couldn’t be straightforward with Americans about Trump’s rhetoric, the former speaker didn’t have a clear answer.

“I don’t know,” he said. “I’m not in the political world these days. I try to, frankly, stay as far away from it as I can.”

However, Boehner stressed that the party needed to return to its core principles.

“I think what Republicans need to do is act like Republicans,” he said. “I’m a conservative Republican, but I’m not crazy. I believe in fiscal responsibility and a strong national defense. We need to rally the party around what being a Republican means.”

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John Boehner says that Mitch McConnell ‘holds his feelings, thoughts, and emotions in a lockbox’

McConnell Boehner
Then-Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, left, and then-House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio stand together at a ceremony on Capitol Hill on February 13, 2015.

  • John Boehner made some revealing statements about his former GOP counterpart, Mitch McConnell.
  • Boehner said that “bystanders are struck silent” when McConnell shows visible feelings or emotions.
  • In a USA Today interview, the former speaker’s penchant for tears was still evident.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

When former GOP House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio served in leadership, he often worked with his Senate counterpart, Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky.

Both men were from the same political party and even hailed from adjoining states – Boehner was a conservative Midwestern Republican, while McConnell the face of the South’s dominant influence within the party.

However, while promoting his new memoir, “On the House: A Washington Memoir,” Boehner made some revealing observations about McConnell.

During an interview with USA Today, the former speaker highlighted McConnell’s intellect and penchant to play the long game, which the minority leader wholly adhered to when installing conservative jurists to the federal bench.

Boehner also said that the Kentucky Republican “holds his feelings, thoughts, and emotions in a lockbox closed so tightly that whenever one of them seeps out, bystanders are struck silent.”

For Boehner, a jovial, backslapping politician who still smokes Camel cigarettes and is known to publicly cry during emotional moments, McConnell’s steely and to-the-point demeanor is quite a contrast.

Even in retirement, Boehner’s sentimental side has not dissipated.

When the former speaker was asked what makes him cry, he was prepared with a response.

“I can get a little teary-eyed,” he said. “Over what? There’s a pretty long list.”

He spoke up a treasured television advertisement for the US Golf Association.

“They had some kid playing by himself, gets a hole-in-one and he’s all upset because there’s nobody there to see it,” he said. “Except the greens superintendent saw it!”

When Boehner began to think about how someone actually did see the young man’s brilliant golf shot, it was enough to set him over the edge.

He had to take out a handkerchief to wipe his eyes.

Boehner’s memoir is set to be released on April 13.

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Trump predicts that the GOP will retake Congress in 2022 and the White House in 2024

donald trump mar a lago covid
Former President Donald Trump.

  • Former President Donald Trump on Saturday addressed the RNC donor summit in Florida.
  • The former president expressed confidence that the GOP would regain control of Congress in 2022.
  • He also said that “a Republican candidate” would win the White House in 2024.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Former President Donald Trump on Saturday expressed optimism that Republicans would regain control of the House and Senate in the 2022 midterm elections and win back the White House in 2024, according to prepared remarks obtained by the Associated Press.

In a keynote address at the Republican National Committee’s donor summit in Florida, Trump did not explicitly say if he would be a candidate in 2024, but float the idea of a potential candidacy, according to an attendee who spoke with CBS News.

While the closed-door summit was mostly held at the Four Seasons Resort in Palm Beach, attendees were taken to the former president’s Mar-a-Lago resort to hear him speak.

“We are gathered tonight to talk about the future of the Republican Party – and what we must do to set our candidates on a course to victory,” Trump’s prepared remarks said. “I stand before you this evening filled with confidence that in 2022, we are going to take back the House and we are going to reclaim the Senate – and then in 2024, a Republican candidate is going to win the White House.”

Read more: Visa’s PAC gave politicians $139,000 in March after vowing to pause contributions because of the Capitol insurrection

Trump also lodged attacks at his successor, President Joe Biden, accusing him of pursuing an “unpopular” legislative agenda and criticizing the increase in unaccompanied children that have been arriving at the US-Mexico border.

“With an agenda this unpopular, it is no wonder that Joe Biden is the first new president in modern times not to address a joint session of Congress within his first few weeks,” according to the former president’s prepared remarks.

Trump, along with top GOP leaders, have reportedly expressed confidence that Republicans can win back control of Congress by hammering Biden over his immigration policies.

The former president championed hardline immigration policies and the construction of a southern border wall throughout his tenure in office and during the 2016 and 2020 presidential elections.

Biden has sought to move away from the more aggressive family separation policies that defined the Trump years.

The GOP summit comes as Republicans find themselves shut out of power in Washington DC, with Biden in the White House and Democrats in control of both the House and the Senate, albeit with slim majorities.

In attendance were several potential 2024 GOP candidates that would likely launch campaigns in the event that Trump declines to run, including Govs. Ron DeSantis of Florida and Kristi Noem of South Dakota, along with Sens. Rick Scott of Florida and Tom Cotton of Arkansas.

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Corporations are standing up and defending our democracy from Republican attacks. But we can’t rely on the goodwill of big business to fix the country’s problems.

georgia voting
Demonstrators stand outside of the Georgia Capitol building on March 3, 2021 in Atlanta, Georgia.

  • Corporations like Delta Airlines and Major League Baseball are pushing back on Georgia’s new voting law.
  • But the GOP is hitting back, crying that these business decisions in defense of democracy are “cancel culture.”
  • While the actions of big business are encouraging, we can’t rely on corporations to solve America’s problems.
  • Michael Gordon is a longtime Democratic strategist, a former spokesman for the Justice Department, and the principal for the strategic-communications firm Group Gordon.
  • This is an opinion column. The thoughts expressed are those of the author.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Major League Baseball took a strong, tangible stand against Georgia’s new voting law by moving the All-Star Game from Atlanta to Denver. More than 100 companies and CEOs, including Delta and Coke – two of the biggest businesses to call Atlanta home – matched this action with their words.

This is not the first time that corporations have needed to step forward to take on Republican policy madness – but it’s the latest encapsulation of the sad state of affairs in this country, where companies have a stronger moral compass than our political leaders.

Corporations saving the world

The MLB’s move against Georgia will hopefully serve as a shot across the bow for other states looking to make it harder for Black Americans to vote. While conservatives may cry that these decisions, made by private companies, are “cancel culture” on steroids – the GOP is only narrowing their field of play for future elections by declaring more and more of the country “against” them.

This is not the first time that companies have stepped in when Republican policies have stepped out. The most notable example is guns. As mass shooting after mass shooting after mass shooting has killed our children – Republicans in Washington have put up a bullet-proof roadblock against even common-sense, popular gun safety measures.

While most of America has been appalled by the GOP’s crooked interpretation of the Second Amendment, corporations took the matter into their own hands. Dick’s, the nation’s largest sporting goods retailer, stopped selling firearms at more than 400 of their stores, while Walmart raised the age required to purchase a gun to 21 after the horrific shooting at a high school in Parkland, Florida.

As new states pass draconian laws endangering the health and well-being of trans youth, we’re reminded of how corporate pressure can force politicians to change. In 2016, after North Carolina’s passage of the so-called “bathroom bill,” which barred trans people from using the bathroom of their gender identity, numerous corporations took concrete steps to voice their opposition.

The NBA moved its All-Star Game from Charlotte, and PayPal cancelled a plan to expand into North Carolina. After costing their state nearly $4 billion dollars, Republicans repealed the bill, and the GOP governor lost his bid for re-election even as Donald Trump carried the state.

The alt-right attack on a host of issues including voting rights has been mainstreamed by Fox News and other conservative media – but most of the country still believes the right to vote should be expanded, not curtailed. That’s why congenitally cautious corporations can take a moral stand here when they haven’t before.

Actions, not words

To have a real impact, more companies need to take action like the MLB and Dick’s. Statements are insufficient – and wimpy.

Corporations like Coke could donate to voting rights groups and help register voters, like some companies have done. At the very least, the same Georgia companies that spoke out against this attack on Americans’ civil liberties could stop financing the very politicians who put this law into place. Delta has donated more than $25,000 to Gov. Brian Kemp and other Georgia Republicans.

Companies also could choose to move their offices out of states with regressive voting laws or choose not to move there at all. Atlanta has a large entertainment industry that could easily find a home in a state that believes everyone should have easy, secure voting access. Moving to a less oppressive state would serve as a simultaneous economic and moral victory.

The slippery slope

The dramatically escalating national dysfunction led by Washington has brought us to this day. The fact that companies are the new standard bearers for common sense may be powerful today but is concerning long term.

The strength of our polity cannot rely on the moral force of profit. It can be a wakeup call, a force for logic, but it is a cover, not a foundation. Their day job is not to consider the whole. In theory, that responsibility belongs to our electeds. Both teams have failed us, but big business only feels the need to play when the Republicans are at their craziest.

If our leaders continue to falter, it is not sustainable for the basic functions of government to be turned over to corporations, where there is a natural ceiling. So if our politicians are incompetent and our companies are limited, the moment of truth will be when our country faces a crisis that is existential and not just manufactured by the GOP.

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