The fallout from Georgia’s new voter suppression laws and the Major Baseball League’s decision to pull the All-Star Game from Atlanta in reaction to them, continues.
Activists, Democratic leaders and the Republicans whose actions drove the MLB’s decision to make a bold move against restrictions at the ballot box spent the weekend taking different sides on whether the move is justified.
“Just as elections have consequences, so do the actions of those who are elected,” said Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms, who added that the MLB action could be the first of “many dominoes to fall” as a result of the barriers put in place at the ballot box.
Rep. Ilhan Omar welcomed the boycott, saying in a CNN interview on Sunday that similar actions have ushered in meaningful change throughout history.
“Our hope is that this boycott will result in changes in the law because we understand that when you restrict people’s ability to vote, you create a democracy that isn’t fully functioning for all of us, and if we are to continue to be beacon of hope for all democracies around the world we must stand our ground,” said Omar.
Stacey Abrams, who has previously said she does not support a boycott of Georgia because such an action would hurt the state’s marginalized residents more than anyone else, echoed that sentiment on Friday in response to the MLB’s decision. She, however, acknowledged that the fault lies in the laws she has described as Jim Crow 2.0.
“Like many Georgians, I am disappointed that MLB is relocating the All-Star Game; however, I commend the players, owners and League commissioner for speaking out,” said Abrams in a statement on Friday. “As I have stated, I respect boycotts, although I don’t want to see Georgia families hurt by lost events and jobs. Georgians targeted by voter suppression will be hurt as opportunities go to other states. We should not abandon the victims of GOP malice and lies—we must stand together.”
Former President Barack Obama, meanwhile, welcomed the MLB’s move.
“There’s no better way for America’s pastime to honor the great Hank Aaron, who always led by example,” Obama said, lauding the baseball league for its decision.
The name of Hank Aaron, the legendary Hall of Famer who died at 86 in January, who played in Atlanta and is set to be honored at the All-Star Game, has come up more than once in response to the news that the All-Star Game will be moved out of Atlanta, due to the laws that experts say will limit voting access in a state where Black voter turnout made a decisive difference for Democratic candidates in 2020.
Former GOP senator for Georgia, Kelly Loeffler—who was defeated in the last election by Democratic Sen. Raphael Warnock—called out the MLB for being “woke” and claimed they are choosing to honor politics rather than Aaron, in a ridiculous statement on Friday.
In response, the All-Star champion’s grandson, Raynal Aaron told Loeffler in no uncertain times to “keep my grandfather’s name out of your mouth.”
Complaining about “wokeness” appears to be the agreed upon talking point of the GOP in response to corporate backlash to their mission of making voting less accessible.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell chimed in with his own complaints on Monday.
“Parts of the private sector keep dabbling in behaving like a woke parallel government,” McConnell said, according to a report from Bloomberg. “Corporations will invite serious consequences if they become a vehicle for far-left mobs to hijack our country from outside the constitutional order.”
“Invite serious consequences?” Sounds like a threat to me, but McConnell has always relished the language of villainy.
Meanwhile, at a press conference in Georgia on Saturday, Gov. Brian Kemp said he will not back down from the restrictive voting measures he signed into law last week, despite the MLB’s decision, uproar from members of the public and the denouncing statements from major Atlanta-based companies including Delta Air Lines and Coca-Cola.
“For anybody that’s out there thinking that any kind of snowball effect is going to have an effect on me, it will not,” Kemp said, according to a report from the New York Times. He also lambasted the companies for practising “cancel culture.”
(At the same time, Georgia Republicans say they want to cancel the presence of any Coca-Cola products in their offices at the state legislature.)
“Yesterday, Major League Baseball caved to fear and lies from liberal activists,” Mr. Kemp said at a news conference, flanked by the state’s Republican attorney general, G.O.P. members of the legislature and grass-roots activists. “In the middle of a pandemic, Major League Baseball put the wishes of Stacey Abrams and Joe Biden ahead of the economic well-being of hard-working Georgians who were counting on the All-Star Game for a paycheck.”
You’ll notice that Kemp calls out Abrams specifically for the consequences of his own anti-democratic actions, though Abrams has expressly and publicly spoken out against the boycott action in Georgia. It’s another indication that the Republican’s strategy is less about facts or the truth and more about how much they can control narratives.
Speaking of narratives, I wonder if these scary sounding, word vomit phrases that Republicans keep making up, with a mish-mash of “liberal” words, are really making an impression on their base?
Who am I kidding? Cancel culture, fake news, wokeness and now so-called woke supremacy have all joined the modern lexicon due to the deliberate machinations of the GOP. The party is expert at certain things: passing hateful, anti-democratic legislation and building hateful, anti-sensical narratives that catch on like fire with their base.
Let’s see if their narrative and braggadocio will win this game of wills against the corporate powers in America.