The All-Star fight, with Biden and Trump, shows American companies breaking with the Republican Party


This is much more than a baseball fight.

As a matter of political symbolism, the decision to withdraw the Atlanta All-Star Game is a striking blow in the culture wars. After all, Major League Baseball acted the day after President Biden told ESPN he would back such a protest against Georgia’s new voting law, and Donald Trump immediately demanded a boycott of baseball.

But there is a much deeper dynamic at play here: Major parts of American business are increasingly at odds with the Republican Party.

For decades, the two were practically synonymous. The largest American companies were happy to open their coffers to Republican candidates who supported tax cuts, less government spending, and reduced regulation.

The country club Republicans were pretty much in charge, which is good for General Motors and all that, and that was symbolized by John Boehner when he was Speaker of the House. In his new memoirs, Boehner admits that his power was waning when he was unable to convince first-year members to commit to the legislation:

“Ronald Reagan used to say something to the effect that if I get 80 or 90 percent of what I want, that’s a win. These guys wanted 100 percent every time. In fact, I don’t think that would satisfy them, because they didn’t really want legislative victories. They wanted wedge issues, conspiracies, and crusades. “

But as the party moved just below Trump, the Democrats moved to the left and the business world began to evolve. Some of the changes started earlier, when big business decided that affirmative action and gay rights were good for business. The racial protests and riots that followed George Floyd’s assassination also changed his behavior. And especially when Big Tech firms joined the mix, CEOs became more responsive to demands for social justice.

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Georgia’s top employers, led by Delta and Coca-Cola, under pressure from civil rights activists, launched a public relations campaign against the voting law signed by Republican Gov. Brian Kemp.

As the New York Times notes, “Taking a position on voting rights legislation pushes businesses into partisan politics and pits them against Republicans who have shown a willingness to raise taxes and enact onerous regulations on businesses that make them they cross politically. “

And they have retaliated. George House voted to repeal a jet fuel tax exemption that benefited Delta after the airline’s baseball stance, just as the legislature had removed a tax exemption in 2018 when Delta broke with the NRA in the wake of the shooting at Parkland High School.

Now I can’t say that I’m surprised that local politicians punish private companies that do things they don’t like, but this is a particularly crude exercise of power.

Trump, in his statement, also urged his supporters to boycott Coke, Delta and a list of other corporations that oppose similar proposals in other states. Marco Rubio backed the boycott, calling the airline and soft drink company “rousing the corporate hypocrites.” Therefore, it is clear that the closed alliance between the Republicans and their traditional business allies is ruined.

Now I can’t imagine millions of conservatives boycotting every company on the list, or even baseball itself. But Trump did some damage to the NFL with his attacks on the anthem protests.

If Trump were still in the White House, this would be the top story every hour. But how much media attention should be devoted to these pronouncements by a former president? Certainly, more than Barack Obama’s endorsement of the MLB movement has been garnered, given Trump’s enormous influence in the Republican Party.

The game changer will cost Atlanta around $ 100 million in tourism revenue, so this isn’t just a slap on the wrist.

At the same time, some of what Biden has been saying about Georgia’s voting restrictions goes too far. After an initial wave of positive coverage, the Washington Post gave Biden four Pinocchioes for stating that the law requires all polling places to close at 5 p.m.

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More in-depth reporting has found that while Georgia law improves some things, like an extra early voting Saturday, it makes voting by mail more onerous by requiring identification.

Gone are the days when athletic competitions were an oasis of cultural combat. Sports and politics are now inextricably linked, no matter who the president is. And big corporations are more interesting in scoring points with the left than could have been imagined a decade ago.

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