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Opinion |  Republicans have declared war on Coca-Cola and baseball

Are you a Republican voter irritated by the state of American politics? If so, the party leaders have some exciting marching orders for you: Dump your diet coke and stop that episode of “NCIS” – or any ViacomCBS show you watch. Cash in your Delta plane tickets, close your Citibank account, empty your Merck meds, and tell your kids not to send you anything via UPS. And, oh, yes, no condescension from Major League Baseball until further notice. Not the Yankees. Not the Dodgers. Not even the poor Pirates.

These restrictions may seem extreme, especially for a population exhausted by the pandemic, but they are part of a crucial new front in the culture war, the latest mark of true MAGA patriotism. The Republican Party has declared war on segments of American business for daring to protest, in words or worse yet, in direct action, the ongoing attacks on the franchise, and the troops are rallying . Initially, it means boycotts. The sprawling ones. (The hundreds of verboten Coca-Cola products alone are hard to keep up with – Dasani, vitaminwater, Topo Chico!) But even more sacrifice and mayhem is yet to come.

Usually, Republicans have a gentle relationship with corporate America, which appreciates the party’s anti-regulatory and tax-cutting inclinations. But the last GOP crusade was not so much pro-business as it was anti-democratic: pushing hundreds of measurements in dozens of states which should make the vote heavier, especially for poor and minority communities.

In Georgia, for example, the Republican-controlled legislature passed a bill last month that contains “16 key provisions that will limit access to the ballot box, potentially confuse voters and give more power to Republican lawmakers,” according to an analysis of The Times. These include tightening restrictions on absentee voting and making it illegal to provide water to people who line up to vote. (It’s still unclear when proper hydration became part of a partisan takeover by Democrats.)

This manipulation of the electoral system triggered a violent reaction. Activists, including some of the Georgian religious leaders, have decided to organize boycotts against local businesses which they say have done too little to oppose the bill. They also called on companies to stop donating to lawmakers who backed it.

Leading leaders, some of whom said little about the bill before it was passed, have spoken out in recent days. “Let me be crystal clear and unequivocal. This legislation is unacceptable, ”James Quincey, CEO of Cola-Cola, told CNBC last week. Delta CEO Ed Bastian was equally adamant. “I must clarify that the final bill is unacceptable and does not correspond to the values ​​of Delta,” he said Wednesday in a note to employees.

Major League Baseball stepped up on Friday, announcing it was withdrawing the July All-Star Game and the state’s MLB Draft.

It is too bad these heavy hitters were not so clear on their objections before the bill was passed. It’s easier to stop a harmful law than it is to repeal one – although the history of so-called bathroom bills shows that a reversal is possible. In 2016, lawmakers in North Carolina passed a measure limiting public toilets that can be used by transgender people. The legislation has sparked widespread repression. Companies have frozen planned investments in the state. Concerts and TV projects have been canceled. The NCAA and the NBA have shot games. Key elements of the law were repealed in March 2017, and similar efforts were eventually scrapped in other states.

Determined not to let this happen with their beloved voting restrictions – in Georgia or elsewhere – the Republicans are launching a campaign of back pressure. From his exile in Elbe-like Mar-a-Lago, former President Donald Trump on Saturday called on MAGAverse to boycott many companies that denounce restrictive voting measures. “Don’t come back to their products until they give in,” he said. “We can play a better game than them.”

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell proclaimed corporate interference ‘stupid’ and issued the ominous statement: ‘Businesses will have dire consequences if they become a vehicle for far-left crowds to hijack our country. from outside the constitutional order. Businesses should not resort to economic blackmail to spread disinformation and push bad ideas that citizens reject at the polls. “

What sort of “serious consequences”? Well, some Republican senators are calling for the elimination of pro baseball’s antitrust exemption, and there is talk of punishing other purveyors of “awake capitalism” using tax law. Georgia House voted last Wednesday to strip Delta of a major tax break. At the end of the session, the state Senate declined to take up the matter, but the message was clear. Economic blackmail, indeed.

With all the talk about boycotts and other sanctions, it’s increasingly difficult to know what political statement one would make while enjoying a frozen Fresca. This is precisely the kind of confusion and confusion that befits Mr. Trump and his merry bunch of nihilists.

Republicans have made it clear that their preferred outcome in this affair was for companies to shut up and resume serving as campaign ticket vending machines. In a reprimand session Monday on how these companies should “stay out of politics,” McConnell clarified that he was “not to talk about political contributions. ” Of course not. Fighting to classify the campaign’s unlimited money as constitutionally protected speech has been the cornerstone of his political career. In this area, it is fortunate that American companies are ringing whatever they want.

As you would imagine, late night comedians spend a day in the field with this mess. “Republicans say they will boycott baseball,” Jimmy Fallon said Monday. “They are already boycotting the NFL and the NBA. Soon their only sports will be golf and jarts. ”

The jarts are hilarious. Less is the saga of how the Republican Party has given up on convincing voters with its ideas and instead adopted an anti-democratic, anti-majority strategy of maintaining power.

The right to have one’s voice heard is a fundamental principle of democracy. Efforts to undermine this right cannot go unchallenged. However confusing the debate, the question is too important for anyone, including American companies, to remain silent.

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