By Joe Kefauver
For many small business owners, the ongoing feud for control of the Republican Party has largely come, unfortunately, at their expense.
Over the last ten years or so we have witnessed the balance of power within the party shift from economic conservatives and the business community – to social conservatives and the interest groups that serve them. I have labeled this fight as one between the “suits” and the “boots.” Over the last two election cycles, the boots have clearly demonstrated that they are in charge.
This week, however, the business community fought back and got a rare win. Georgia Governor Nathan Deal, an avowed social conservative, vetoed a “religious freedom” bill passed by the Legislature that, among other things, would have essentially allowed business owners to refuse service to customers they deemed were offensive to their religious beliefs (i.e. The unspoken target of this legislation is, of course, the LGBT community).
In response, major corporations threatened to sever their ties with the state of Georgia. Disney threatened to stop shooting movies there, Unilever said it would reconsider any future investment there, Atlanta-based Coca-Cola and Home Depot expressed loud opposition and the NFL said Georgia would never host a Super Bowl again. Boom. Governor Deal folded like a cheap suit under the pressure and quickly vetoed the bill. Interestingly, when Deal was a Congressman, he would very likely have voted for this bill. Now as a Governor and on the hook to actually get things done and, daresay, govern, he looks at it differently.
This is what happens when the business community flexes its muscle. Unfortunately, that once powerful muscle has become pretty flabby lately. But, the events in Georgia have shown that if the business community could ever find its collective way back into a gym there is a huge opportunity to showcase its strength.