American and Southwest come out against Texas voter law

Apr 2, 2021

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American Airlines and Southwest seem eager to avoid Delta’s missteps.

Days after Atlanta-based Delta Air Lines came under fire for its weak opposition to Georgia’s new voting law, which would restrict access to voting, American Airlines and Southwest are coming out strong against a similar proposed law in Texas.

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In a statement on Thursday afternoon, American Airlines described the proposed Texas law as unacceptable.

“To make American’s stance clear: We are strongly opposed to this bill and others like it,” the airline said in the statement. “Any legislation dealing with how elections are conducted must ensure ballot integrity and security while making it easier to vote, not harder. At American, we believe we should break down barriers to diversity, equity and inclusion in our society – not create them.”

Southwest took a similar stance, while not specifically calling out the bill. In a statement provided to CBS Dallas-Fort Worth, the Texas-based carrier said that “[t]he right to vote is foundational to our democracy and a right coveted by all. We believe every voter should have a fair opportunity to let their voice be heard. This right is essential to our nation’s success.

Following the passage of the bill in Georgia, Delta CEO Ed Bastian released a statement saying that while the bill was not ideal, it had “improved considerably during the legislative process.”

“Nonetheless, we understand concerns remain over other provisions in the legislation, and there continues to be work ahead in this important effort,” Bastian added.

Reaction to the statement was swift, causing #BoycottDelta to trend on Twitter.

On Tuesday, Bastian released a video message to staff reiterating the point, saying that the airline felt that the bill was inevitable, and that the best option was to try and mitigate the damage done by it.

The following day, the airline walked back the initial position, saying that the bill was unacceptable in its current form.

“After having time to now fully understand all that is in the bill, coupled with discussions with leaders and employees in the Black community, it’s evident that the bill includes provisions that will make it harder for many underrepresented voters, particularly Black voters, to exercise their constitutional right to elect their representatives” he added. “That is wrong.”

The following day, Georgia Republicans voted to cancel a Delta tax break, with House Speaker David Ralston saying “You don’t feed a dog that bites your hand.”

Meantime in reaction to the news from American Airlines and Southwest Airlines, Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, a Republican, issued a scathing response to the two Texas-based airlines.

“Texans are fed up with corporations that don’t share our values trying to dictate public policy,” he said. “The majority of Texans support maintaining the integrity of our elections, which is why I made it a priority this legislative session.”

The incidents show just how tricky it is for corporations to operate in today’s political climate. Airlines have been vocal on several other recent political issues including gun control, Black Lives Matter, vaccines, masks and more. The problem is no matter what stance they take they are guaranteed to alienate as much as half the country.

Featured image by Clint Henderson/The Points Guy.

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