Pat McCrory Sleeps with the Fishes

Georgia is NOT an anomaly

Over the past few days, the state of Georgia has been in the headlines, as it has moved, once again, to the forefront in the battle over “woke capital” and its ability to shape public policy matters and overrule the democratic will of the people.  The issues in Georgia are serious, obviously, and quite important, but Georgia is not the only place where those issues are playing out.  Indeed, it is likely not even the most egregious example of how all of this works and is intended to work.

In Georgia, you see, the woke capitalists had to make a very public production of their opposition to the state’s elected representatives.  And in so doing, they had to expose themselves and make themselves targets for political responses.  We do not agree, strategically or tactically, with former President Trump’s call, issued over the weekend, for a massive boycott of the companies involved in the pressure campaign against the democratically elected representatives of the state of Georgia.  At the same time, we appreciate that the boycott proposal “names and shames” the participants in this effort to undermine the American tradition of self-governance.  The woke capitalists have, at the very least, been exposed for their perfidy.

Such exposure, however, is not always the norm.  Indeed, the avoidance of exposure is the goal of the woke capitalists, who would rather undermine the will of the people in peace and anonymity, without having the dirty their hands – or sully their reputations – in the process.  Consider, for example, the case of South Dakota.

As you may or may not know, conservatives in South Dakota and throughout the country are upset with the state’s Republican Governor, Kristi Noem, for her apparent capitulation to business interests and her resultant refusal to sign House Bill 1217, which would have mandated that athletes in the state compete in the gender classifications that comport with their biological sex at birth.  While the political implications of Noem’s decision are debatable and the ramifications for her political future are equally unsettled, one thing is clear: the Governor’s indecision is precisely the intended effect of “woke capital.”

What happened in South Dakota is very similar to what is happening in Georgia – and what happened in Georgia and North Carolina previously – only with one significant twist.

As soon as the state legislature began debating the issue of gender in athletics, the ostensibly business-friendly and self-described “conservative” state Chamber of Commerce began running around with its hair on fire, insisting that economic devastation was certain to follow if Governor Noem succumbed to her “baser” instincts and signed the bill.  In January, for example, David Owen, the chamber’s president, warned that “When South Dakota considers draconian rules that affect a limited number of people, we run the risk of triggering economic consequences that include the loss of conventions, tournaments, top-level entertainment and business investment from outside industries.”  Or to put it another way, “If you wanna see Backstreet Boys in September or the NCAA Division I Hockey Regional in March 2024, then you better get over yourselves and quit trying to live like freeborn men and women.”

Worse still, some lawmakers in South Dakota appeared to hope that large, national employers would pull out of commitments in the state in order to punish the rubes.  State Senator Reynold Nesiba, a Sioux Falls Democrat, openly fretted about the possibility that woke-corporation-extraordinaire Amazon would terminate its plans to build a fulfillment center in Sioux Falls and bring at least 1000 new jobs to the state.  “I'm frankly a little worried about Amazon,” Nesiba said.  “I'm just worried about our perception….”

But here’s the catch.  Amazon never said a single word about the bill – least of all to Senator Nesiba.  And neither, for that matter, did any other major corporation, nor any major sports or entertainment management organization, not even the perpetually aggrieved NCAA.  The concerns voiced by Nesiba and the state Chamber of Commerce were all in their heads, which is precisely where the woke capitalists want them.

As we are seeing in Georgia, waging war against states and the people who live there is difficult and dangerous work.  Smart woke capitalists have no desire to place themselves in conservatives’ crosshairs over and over again, suffering repeated blows to their reputations.  They do want the people to know their place, but they don’t want to have to keep telling them that publicly.  And so they’re grateful to the likes of the South Dakota Chamber of Commerce for carrying their water for them and quietly reminding everyone of their power.

Former North Carolina governor Pat McRory has long said that his support for and signature on HB2 (the bathroom bill) killed his career.  He not only lost his reelection campaign but was, he insists, subsequently blacklisted from private sector employment and business opportunities, forever branded a “bigot.”  To the best of anyone’s knowledge, the NCAA, Lionsgate, and Paypal (to name just three) never sent any fish, wrapped in bullet-proof vests, to any legislators or governors around the country, but then, they didn’t really have to.  They had made their point: Pat McRory sleeps with the fishes.  And you will too…if you cross us.

That’s a message that was not wasted on Kristi Noem.  Noem is a strong, charismatic 49-year-old with great ambitions.  Not only does she not want to lose her next campaign – especially if it’s for the Republican presidential nomination in 2024 – she doesn’t want to lose the chance to turn her national prominence into a successful post-politics career.  The last thing she wants is to be known as the “bigot” who killed South Dakota’s economy.  Like the Chamber of Commerce and the guy from Sioux Falls, Noem is taking the implied threat of Luca Brasi’s Pat McRory’s misfortune very seriously.

The irony here is that Noem may have ended her career prematurely anyway, by failing to stand up to the woke-scolds.  But then, that’s not the woke capitalists’ problem.  As far as they’re concerned, Noem’s capitulation was precisely what was supposed to happen.  The plan came together perfectly.

Some of those involved in trying to undermine the elected representatives of Georgia will suffer reputational damage for their efforts.  Major League Baseball, at the very least, will face a significant backlash it cannot afford.  That’s the risk in pursuing a strategy like the one pursued in Georgia.  If only every Republican could be like Kristi Noem, things would be much, much easier – which is what they’re expecting going forward.


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