By King Williams
en·mi·ty /ˈenmədē/ noun
the state or feeling of being actively opposed or hostile to someone or something.
Earlier this week we saw the defeat of mass transit expansion in Gwinnett to start the week. And by the end of the week, we saw one of the most restrictive abortion bills in the nation pass the Georgia House and Senate.
I’m deeply troubled that the next 50 years of Georgia will be determined by people who are stuck in living in the last 50.
Ever since the reality of a non-WASP, non-conservative, truly diverse America has emerged in the 1980’s and 90’s, we’ve been seeing a much more polarized government each year. Nationally, this became apparent when Barack Obama was elected president in 2008 with the subsequent backlash that led to the election of the current president in 2016.
Facing the reality of a declining base of voters, we’ve seen an entrenchment among a core group of conservatives who are resisting the changes that are inevitable. The various religious liberty bills of the last several years have been the canaries in the coal mine. Other signs have been the efforts of voter suppression as well as the proposed state takeover of Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport.
It’s time we start paying attention.
These are moves based on fear and not on foresight. Georgia, like America, has never really learned from the wounds and sins of its past – it just moved to the suburbs.
While some may have moved away from cities to the suburbs to avoid problems associated with ‘urban’ America, in reality that shift in population and development practices has created real consequences in and of themselves – such as sprawl, spiraling medical costs, lack of economic mobility, crumbling roads, car dependency and mushrooming municipalities with their own bureaucracies.
The play for conservatives is now to control every major economic, infrastructure, educational and judicial position of power in the state. This is the strategy, and it is working – for now.
Black political and economic power should be concerned about these moves, especially with a potential takeover of Hartsfield-Jackson. The airport is still one of our biggest drivers of wealth and growth for black (and white) Atlanta. But the constant negative news stories about corruption in the granting of concessions plays into the long-term psyche that conservative business leadership is the best leadership.
Should the airport be taken over, we would need to look at how conservatives have operated the Georgia Department of Transportation, with the overwhelming majority of its contracts being awarded to white-owned contractors and firms.
The current state leadership appears to be more interested in staying in control than it is to actually leading the state. From my perspective, most of the moves currently being proposed are limited in sight and scope.
For women, House Bill 481 – the heartbeat, anti-abortion bill – would outlaw abortions as early as six weeks in a pregnancy, which would drastically limit a woman’s right to choose. Also, Georgia’s unwillingness to expand Medicaid (the Obamacare proposal) has led to rural hospitals being closed and a lack of solutions to help the uninsured.
We’re 20 months away from what will assuredly be a hotly-contested presidential election, and we’re trusting our voting to be overseen by an administration that has been suspected of suppressing votes.
Also we need to be keeping an eye on the current relationship between the current state government and film/television industries, as social conservative values are poised to clash with global media brands. This is combined with an ongoing prodding of certain state law makers against Delta airlines, which for now is an annoyance but could evolve into a much more damaging relationship.
The future is beyond red, purple or blue. The demographic future of Georgia represents one that has less to do with the gatekeepers of the past. Instead, it will belong more to those who have helped build and clean the gates.
It would behoove us to make this transition as smooth as possible.