To Comfort The Afflicted
And Afflict The Comfortable

To Comfort The Afflicted And Afflict The Comfortable

Friday, July 23, 2021

Observercast

‘Georgia, Sweet Georgia’ Isn’t Just On Ray Charles’ Mind

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Georgia, yes. Sweet, not so much.

Think about this. Of the entire 50 states, Georgia has had its voting system investigated more than any other, its ballots from November 2020 recounted twice by computer and once completely by hand, and no fraud and little human error was found.

So, is this a state ripe to rewrite completely its current election system? I would say no unless you are a white Republican in the white- and Republican-dominated Georgia Legislature, mostly from a small town or city, who is not unhappy with the voting system but mad, terrified and determined to do something about the results of that system.

And the results were to see the defeat of two white Republican United States senators and replace them with a black guy and a Jewish guy. Unusual, actually unprecedented, in Georgia but that’s what the voters did. Damn them, he mutters.

But, for his own political future, and that of his party, my symbolic Republican legislator and colleagues of similar color and party registration, produced SB 202, a 95-page proposal whose unspoken but factual goal is to make it harder to vote for certain classes of people and easier for others.

I won’t name the groups here but readers know which is which and why.

Then the governor, another white Republican guy by the name of Brian Kemp, hails the reform package as the greatest thing in Georgia’s history since God invented peaches and pecans and put them in the red soil of this formerly reliable red state.

Well, he should because he probably will lose a re-election attempt in 2022 against Stacey Abrams who almost beat him in 2018. And finally Brian was so proud of good old SB 202 he signed it into law not in Fulton County Stadium but behind closed doors in his office in the Capitol. He did let people in – just not those kind of people. In the one photo released Brian is photographed with three white guys of significant importance on either side of him and they look happy as well.

There was a brief interruption to all this joy and celebration at returning to the 1950s when Ray Charles couldn’t sleep in certain hotels, eat in most restaurants or sup from certain drinking fountains. It seems a black lady legislator named Park Cannon wanted to watch Kemp put pen to paper, but although she has privileges on the House and Senate floors, she was not allowed into the room occupied by all the white big wheels, unless a janitor happened to be standing by in case one of the biggies dropped a cigar ash or spilled some coffee.

Rep. Cannon even knocked on Kemp’s door, causing near panic inside and her arrest outside by two blue-shirted troopers who probably felt bad about it because it was being taped and shown throughout the world. Since she is a woman they couldn’t even drag out the old reliable batons to knock her around as Bull Connor would have done similar to his work back in Birmingham decades ago so just a little arm-twisting, a night in the pokey and two felony charges for Cannon.

Bet the little missy will stay in her place from now on and if it is in jail due to a felony conviction she’ll not have to just worry about other people’s right to vote but also her own. As a felon she will lose that privilege, won’t be able to run for office ever again, and her retirement pay, if earned. But Rep. Cannon will retain one thing government can never take: Her integrity.

Can you imagine what John Lewis, Martin Luther King and millions more are saying about that today?

And also, can you imagine what millions are also saying about Gov. Kemp?

And maybe even what Rep. Cannon’s mother and grandmother might say and think, who remember all too well from the past Jim Crow and today his descendants, alive but not mentally well making new law in the Georgia Legislature.

Cal Hobson
Cal Hobson, a Lexington Democrat, served in the Oklahoma Legislature from 1978-2006, including one term as Senate President Pro Tempore.