Meh. Even when they’re right to be angry, I disdain legislators threatening businesses for their politics. If McConnell wants to take away Major League Baseball’s antitrust exemption or raise corporate taxes to make sure companies pay their “fair share,” why does he need some cultural grievance to spur him to do it? Do it because it’s good economics.
And if he doesn’t believe it’s good economics, why would he let a cultural grievance entice him into doing needless economic damage to some sector?
Ironically, I think the Republican politician who’s best handled the aftermath of MLB pulling the All-Star Game out of Georgia is Trump. He didn’t call for legislative action or make any policy threats; he called for a grassroots boycott of Major League Baseball by Republican voters. (He also insisted that the election was rigged, but what else is new?) That’s the way to do this. Set economic policy at the federal level according to whatever will encourage growth and punish the woke behemoths by encouraging righties to organize and throw their weight around as consumers. They’re woefully deficient about that relative to the left.
Still, given the upset about MLB’s boycott, McConnell had to show the base he’s prepared to “fight” — especially after Trump’s statement this weekend. He’s strategically vague on what that would mean in practice here but the point is clear enough. He’s standing up for Georgia:
“This disinformation [about Georgia’s law] has a purpose. Washington Democrats want to pass a sweeping bill that would let them rewrite all 50 states’ election laws and turn the Federal Election Commission into a Democrat-run partisan body. This power grab is impossible to defend, so the left wants to deflect. Instead of winning the debate, they want to silence debate by bullying citizens and entire states into submission.
“It’s jaw-dropping to see powerful American institutions not just permit themselves to be bullied, but join in the bullying themselves. Wealthy corporations have no problem operating in New York, for example, which has fewer days of early voting than Georgia, requires excuses for absentee ballots, and restricts electioneering via refreshments. There is no consistent or factual standard being applied here. It’s just a fake narrative gaining speed by its own momentum.
“Our private sector must stop taking cues from the Outrage-Industrial Complex. Americans do not need or want big business to amplify disinformation or react to every manufactured controversy with frantic left-wing signaling.
“From election law to environmentalism to radical social agendas to the Second Amendment, parts of the private sector keep dabbling in behaving like a woke parallel government. Corporations will invite serious consequences if they become a vehicle for far-left mobs to hijack our country from outside the constitutional order. Businesses must not use economic blackmail to spread disinformation and push bad ideas that citizens reject at the ballot box.”
He’s not the first Republican to point out that New York, the home of Major League Baseball, has more restrictive voting laws than Georgia does:
— Governor Brian P. Kemp (@GovKemp) April 3, 2021
Other states now competing to host the All-Star Game also have “problematic” voting laws. Colorado requires voter ID while Wisconsin forbids handing out food or drink to voters in line. The president’s home state also has harsher voting laws than Georgia. There’s no no-excuse early voting or absentee voting in Delaware, believe it or not. If Georgia is “Jim Crow on steroids,” what does that make Biden’s state? The Third Reich?
Most of the public embarrassment will be reserved for MLB itself, though. This morning Marco Rubio sent a letter to the game’s commission, Rob Manfred, asking if he’ll forfeit his membership at Augusta to protest the new voting law. Fox also dinged the league this weekend by noting that their standards for Chinese outfits are less exacting than their standards for Georgia:
[T]he MLB signed a deal with Tencent Wednesday, one of China’s largest tech companies.
It’s one of the Chinese firms that briefly dropped NBA games in 2019 after former Houston Rockets general manager Daryl Morey publicly voiced support for pro-democracy protesters facing a Beijing-backed crackdown in Hong Kong.
The new deal grants Tencent rights to stream MLB games in a number of Asian countries until 2023. Back in 2018, the MLB and Tencent reached another deal that granted the company streaming rights for 125 games within China.
That’s the way to do it. Skip the legislative threats; organize boycotts and focus on shaming them for their hypocrisy at every turn. Make political gestures such a headache for companies that they’ll risk making them only when the balance of equities in a particular political dispute is clear and egregiously lopsided. Which it isn’t in the case of Georgia’s law, as even some fair-minded liberals have begun to acknowledge:
– shorter window to request absentee ballot
– later mailing of absentee ballots
– limiting drop boxes (The stated concern is security, but this is already addressed by moving them inside voting sites)
– shorter runoffs, which could limit the window for early voting /2
— Will Saletan (@saletan) April 3, 2021
– Only poll workers can give water to voters in line, and nobody can do it within 150 feet of polling place. The idea is to limit influence. Excessive IMO, but there are loopholes: poll workers, 150 feet, and "third-party groups [can] have food and water available." /4
— Will Saletan (@saletan) April 3, 2021
– Government can no longer send unsolicited absentee ballot applications. IMO, the stated concern, risk of fraud, is solved by voter ID.
– Drop boxes now accessible only during early voting hours. I think this is just because they now have to be inside voting sites. /6
— Will Saletan (@saletan) April 3, 2021
To my amazement, a Democratic member of the House admitted yesterday that his own side is exaggerating the risks from Georgia’s law:
After studying the Georgia voting law, I believe it's not as good and necessary as Rs would like you to believe, nor as comprehensively horrible and unnecessary as Ds are arguing. In the spirit of objectivity, please read the law and have a look at @saletan's assessment, below: https://t.co/CIYfQu42BL
— Rep. Dean Phillips 🇺🇸 (@RepDeanPhillips) April 4, 2021
It’s not even clear that the new law will reduce turnout.
Casual news consumers coming to this debate without having read the statute are conflating two things, I think. They distrust the Georgia GOP’s motives in tinkering with election reform after the “stop the steal” campaign, and they should. How could they do otherwise after Trump pushed for months to try to overturn the results, replete with a call to Georgia’s secretary of state asking him to “find” enough votes to prove that he won? The fact that he and the GOP keyed in on swing-state cities with large black populations like Philly and Milwaukee as likely hotbeds of fraud made the effort smell even worse, as it was the suburbs where Biden improved most dramatically over Hillary. Democrats are fully justified in assuming bad intentions when they hear that a state that used to practice Jim Crow has suddenly changed how its citizens vote after three Democrats won statewide races with massive black support and the GOP baselessly howled about election-rigging the whole way.
It’s just that the assumption doesn’t stand up to scrutiny once you read the law, as Saletan did. We have an actual legislative product we can consult here instead of having to read Republicans’ minds, and questionable motives didn’t produce a sinister statute in the end. The most aggressive restrictions that were proposed, like ending no-excuse absentee balloting or eliminating Sunday voting to prevent black community leaders from organizing “Souls to the Polls” initiatives, didn’t make it into the final version. Democrats’ justifiable fears turned out to be unfounded. But since they’re heavily invested in passing H.R. 1 — partly because other Republican states are also overhauling their election laws to correct for the “cheating” that didn’t actually happen last year — they’re doubling down on their narrative that Georgia’s law is the worst thing since slavery. And lefty activists have strong-armed corporations like MLB, Delta, and Coca-Cola into backing them up.
Here’s Chris Christie aptly condemning Joe Biden for resorting to the same behavior he condemned during the campaign, stooping to racial demagoguery to advance a policy priority.
— This Week (@ThisWeekABC) April 4, 2021