Major League Baseball has decided to take a stand against Georgia’s recently passed, highly restrictive new voting laws, announcing today that it’s decided to take its annual All-Star game out of Atlanta. The traditional Midsummer Classic, which assembles many of the best players in the league to face off against each other, typically rotates from stadium to stadium around the country, truly representing the spirit of U.S. democracy. Representing it better than this new Georgia law, leastways.
For those of you who have been trying to cut down on their daily screaming regimens by keeping their eyes off major political events for the last three months, the Georgia law is one of the most sweeping of the Republican party’s recent efforts to make American elections more “fair,” i.e., easier for them to win, by making it harder for the majority of people, and especially Black people, to vote. The laws contain a variety of new restrictions, ranging from a curtailing of absentee voting, to a demand for voter I.D. that disproportionately affects poorer Americans, to the criminalization of distributing food or water to people in line to vote. (You know you’re on the right side of history when “people trying to vote have too much access to life-giving nourishment” is high on your list of priorities to bring the hammer down on.)
Numerous Georgia legislators and major political figures have spoken up against the new laws, including voting rights activist Stacey Abrams and newly minted senator Raphael Warnock, who both cited the legacy of the South’s Jim Crow laws while criticizing the new measures. Meanwhile, a number of companies and organizations with business interests in the state have begun pushing back against the Georgia legislature’s efforts to restrict voting, too, including major employers like Coca-Cola and Delta Airlines. Now the MLB is hitting the state deep in its love of baseball, stating that “Major League Baseball fundamentally supports voting rights for all Americans and opposes restrictions to the ballot box.”
It’s an open question of how far these pushes from outside entities can be expected to go; in other years, we’d probably already be seeing murmurs from Hollywood about restricting filming in the state, as happened when the Georgia GOP was putting its wheezy energy behind anti-abortion legislation a few years back. The COVID-19 production shutdowns have presumably blunted the impact of the entertainment industry’s normally robust activities in the state, but this MLB move makes it clear that the eyes of the wider world are on Georgia at the moment.