As a rule, I’m not a big fan of boycotts. More often than not they don’t work. For instance, several years ago, Christian conservatives boycotted Ikea because they ran an ad featuring a gay couple. And just recently, progressive groups boycotted Chick-fil-A because of their stance on gay marriage. In both instances, the boycotts not only failed, sales for both companies actually increased.
Turns out, people have a natural aversion to being told what to do, so when they see a group boycotting a company, their inclination is to do the exact opposite and reward the company with their business. Call it reverse psychology, if you will.
The decision by Major League Baseball to pull its All-Star Game and draft out of Atlanta and relocate it to another location over the recently passed Georgia voter suppression law, however, is not your typical boycott. Not only is it warranted, it will hopefully send a clear and unambiguous message to other states that are considering similar voter suppression laws. You screw around with voters’ rights, you’ll face the consequences.
Let’s be clear here: this law is a solution in search of a problem. Gabriel Sterling and Brian Kemp can tap-dance all they want about how it really isn’t a voter suppression law, but it’s obvious from looking at several provisions in it that the law’s intent is to dissuade certain groups from voting and, if that doesn’t work, provide the mechanism for overturning any outcome other than a Republican victory.
Here are my questions for Mr. Sterling and Mr. Kemp:
If, as Bill Barr admitted, there was no wide-spread voter fraud in last year’s election, why was it necessary to pass a voter law in the first place?
Why was it necessary to place all drop boxes inside polling places where they could only be accessed during business hours?
Why was it necessary to by-pass the secretary of state and grant the state election board total authority to fire the county election boards and disqualify ballots from heavily Democratic counties like Fulton if they so choose?
Why was it necessary to grant unlimited legal challenges to voter registrations?
Why was it necessary to reduce the period that absentee ballots can be mailed out to voters from 49 days to 29?
Why was it necessary to create a “hotline” that allows any crackpot the opportunity to report alleged voter intimidation or supposed illegal voting?
No, the provisions in this law make it quite clear that Georgia Republicans’ main goal wasn’t to expand voter access to the polls. If they wanted to do that, they could’ve passed the same bill Virginia just passed, which actually expands voter access for all its citizens. Now that’s what I call a voting rights law.
Instead, what they did with this law was to make it harder for people of color to vote. Just imagine what could happen if a Democrat were to win an election and an unlimited number of legal challenges or complaints were allowed to be filed in mainly Democratic precincts.
This potential clusterfuck is precisely what Trump and the MAGA crowd are counting on next year and beyond. The new law would provide the basis for Georgia Republicans to question the legitimacy of the entire election process and to, ostensibly, pull off a coup in the event the results don’t go their way.
Georgia is not the first state to rewrite the rules of the game, and it most certainly won’t be the last. In Michigan, the Republican-led legislature is toying with the idea of passing an election law that by-passes the governor altogether. Don’t be surprised if Pennsylvania and Wisconsin follow suit.
In the meantime, this move by MLB was a courageous first step that must be followed up by other courageous businesses across the country. It isn’t enough to just express “disappointment” with what’s going on in Georgia. Republicans depend in large part on campaign contributions from corporate donors. Nothing will get their attention more effectively than to see that wellspring begin to dry up.
In the end, Republicans may not have the spine to stand up to Trump and his pack of lies, but they sure as shit know what a dollar bill looks like when they see one.