Opinion Guest Column: Jim Eagle? Really? 

Opinion Guest Column: Jim Eagle? Really? 

Joe Prendergast, Special to the Courier

You may have caught the waves of the latest uproar about a new Georgia “voter suppression” law. You may have heard that this law, and laws like it, are designed to deter people from voting, specifically Black Americans, and is the latest conservative effort to take power away from the people. However, this politically motivated and unwarranted smear effort is based on falsities, lies and virtue signaling. 

The rhetoric surrounding this bill has been ridiculous. Politicians have drawn outrageous comparisons between the new Georgia voting bill to Jim Crow. This is absurd and disrespectful to those who suffered under the system of Jim Crow. President Joe Biden has commented on this law very irresponsibly. Biden attacked the bill during his first solo news conference (if you could call it that). Biden, referring to the bill, stated that, “this makes Jim Crow look like Jim Eagle!” To use a phrase that Biden has been known to use often, “C’mon man!” What is Jim Eagle anyway? It would be one thing if Biden asserted that the laws are almost as bad as Jim Crow (it would still be false however), but Biden goes absurdly further than that.  

During an interview with ESPN’s Sage Steele, President Biden spoke about the new law: “This is Jim Crow on steroids, what they’re doing in…in Georgia and 40 other states.” HUH? Describing something as being another thing “on steroids” generally means that it is stronger/more potent than the other thing. So the president of the United States said that voter integrity laws in 2021 are WORSE than JIM CROW? This is beyond absurd and quite disrespectful. Imagine if former President Donald Trump claimed that a current bill or policy effort was worse than Jim Crow. Are you imagining the frantic media uproar and swift condemnation from celebrities? Also, what 40 other states is President Biden referring to? 

Quite obviously, the Georgia bill and others like it are not worse than Jim Crow. Not even close. This kind of demagoguery has become commonplace in politics, and it is a shame. According to Stephen Fowler for Georgia Public Broadcasting, the bill tightens up voting via absentee/mail-in ballot. After the wave of mail-in ballots cast in the 2020 general election and with the pandemic becoming less of a threat, this seems reasonable. The bill also bans the sending of unsolicited applications for absentee ballots, according to Fowler. 

Georgia’s elections bill actually expands voting access in multiple ways. According to Fowler, ballot drop boxes which, he notes, were not used in Georgia elections until very recently, become permanently legal, with some tweaks to procedure, through SB 202. Fowler outlines another measure, that Biden recklessly took aim at in his press conference, that could expand voting access for many: 

One of the biggest changes in the bill would expand early voting access for most counties, adding an additional mandatory Saturday and formally codifying Sunday voting hours as optional. Counties can have early voting open as long as 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., or 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. at minimum. If you live in a larger metropolitan county, you might not notice a change. For most other counties, you will have an extra weekend day, and your weekday early voting hours will likely be longer. 

The part of the bill concerning water and food was mentioned by Biden also. According to Fowler, poll workers can still provide water to those in line (they can also still bring their own). It makes sense to prohibit activists from giving gifts to voters waiting in line. 

Perhaps the most unnecessarily controversial part of the bill concerns voter ID. It requires for state ID or driver’s license numbers, or other forms of acceptable ID, to be provided for absentee voters, according to Fowler. Voter ID is not racist . ID is required for so many basic things like driving, having a bank account, and, as evidenced by COD’s recent vaccine opportunity, getting a COVID vaccine. 

Let’s abandon the ridiculous rhetoric surrounding voter ID, and have a constructive conversation. Please feel free to express your views and have a productive discussion in the comments section. 

Also, I am attempting to form a Young Americans for Freedom, a conservative student group and project of Young America’s Foundation, chapter at COD. Hopefully, we will be able to set up interesting and productive events in the future, in which dialogue around important issues and topics can be had. For more information concerning Young Americans for Freedom and Young America’s Foundation please visit yaf.org. To inquire about joining the group and/or supporting the conservative movement, please feel free to contact me at [email protected]