It’s hard to believe that Gov. Brian Kemp and his Republican allies in the state legislature never considered what the reaction would be to their onerous voter suppression legislation targeting communities of color when they concocted it. How did they think Major League Baseball and Georgia’s top corporate citizens would respond to their draconian measures?
I suspect they knew and rolled the dice anyway, perhaps hoping nobody would notice or care, their myopic logic being, Boys, we better do this now or we’ll be toast in 2022. As a result, Cobb County stands to lose some $100 million in All-Star Game revenues, according to local travel and tourism officials.
The GOP legislation, a solution to a problem that didn’t exist, is heading to the courts and its enactment will likely be stayed ahead of litigation. I’m not a lawyer but I’ve seen one on TV, and to call what the GOP did anything other than unconstitutional is to be disingenuous. The Constitution is very clear: The citizens’ right to vote shall not be “abridged.” We’ll see what the judges think.
Speaking of lawyers, MLB has a lot of smart ones who undoubtedly scoured the legislation before advising MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred to pull the summer classic out of Truist Park. It was a business decision, not “corporate communism,” as U.S. Rep. Marjorie Taylor-Green (Ga-14) ludicrously charged.
Manfred and team owners undoubtedly feared a player boycott of the All-Star Game, which would have been catastrophic for MLB, its corporate sponsors and its national and international broadcast partners. Ex-President Donald Trump flew into a tizzy, calling MLB’s decision “cancel culture” before directing his cult to cancel their support of baseball and boycott the major brands that agreed with the decision to move the game to Denver, including Atlanta-based Coca-Cola and Delta Air Lines.
“The entire rationale for this bill was based on a lie,” argued Delta CEO Ed Bastian, who also has a battalion of very smart lawyers working for him, “that there was widespread voter fraud in Georgia in the 2020 elections. That is simply not true.”
On Monday, Kemp told Fox News Bastian “doesn’t know what the hell he’s talking about.” Ironically, the governor is probably going to be primaried by Trump’s supporters in 2022 because he rightfully stood by the state’s 2020 presidential election results.
“Consequences like boycotts are good to silence anti-racist speech, but consequences for Georgia legislators for literally trying to cancel people’s votes are ‘cancel culture,’” observed Amanda Marcotte in Salon.
The loss of the All-Star Game, a prestige event, isn’t cancel, friends. It’s the kind of consequence conservatives are forever preaching about: You make bad decisions, you deserve whatever terrible fate befalls you.
Last week, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz and other Republicans in Congress threatened to cancel MLB’s antitrust exemption, which gives it a monopoly on professional baseball. I hope they do, because millionaire and billionaire MLB team owners overwhelmingly support GOP politicians and conservative causes with their cash, according to USA Today.
Yes, Ted, pull the antitrust exemption and let Jeff Bezos start a new league in MLB cities with his pocket change, signing big name free agent stars away from MLB with the change from his other pocket. Do it and I’m sure the owners of the Texas Rangers and Houston Astros will welcome your call asking them for their financial support in the next election cycle.
Not to be outdone by Cruz’s hypocrisy, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell laughably opined, “My advice to the corporate CEOs of America is to stay out of politics. Don’t pick sides in these big fights.”
What we all need to understand is the New Georgia is not the Old Georgia. I’ve lived here for 27 years now, and the state has dramatically changed in that time. Republicans can perhaps stall the inevitable, but they cannot cancel it.