Heather Cox Richardson, late last night, after covering numerous other issues of the day in her newsletter Letters from an American:
But the lasting story today is the one that will hang over everything until it is resolved: the attempt of Republican legislators in 43 states to suppress voting with what are now 361 voter suppression bills across the country.
Today Major League Baseball announced it was pulling the 2021 All-Star Game and the MLB draft from Georgia in response to the state’s new voter suppression law, passed last week. The announcement drew fury from Republican officials.
They attacked MLB’s move as a product of “cancel culture and woke political activists.” Georgia Governor Brian Kemp and Georgia House Speaker David Ralston released a statement blaming “this attack on our state” on President Biden and voting rights activist Stacey Abrams and insisting that the bill in fact expands, rather than contracts, the right to vote. Ralston said that “Stacey Abrams’ leftist lies have stolen the All-Star Game from Georgia…. But Georgia will not be bullied by socialists and their sympathizers.”
Republican politicians also piled on at the national level. Representative Buddy Carter (R-GA) tweeted that MLB was “[t]otally caving to the lies of the Left” and called for a baseball boycott. Senator Tom Cotton (R-AR) called it “a cowardly boycott based on a lie.” Then Representative Jeff Duncan (R-SC) called for Congress to retaliate against MLB with a law to remove MLB’s antitrust exception. The former president urged his supporters to “boycott baseball” and the companies that do not support Georgia’s new voter suppression bill.
But journalists Nick Corasaniti and Reid J. Epstein of the New York Times today reviewed the new 98-page Georgia voting law and had one primary takeaway: “The Republican legislature and governor have made a breathtaking assertion of partisan power in elections, making absentee voting harder and creating restrictions and complications in the wake of narrow losses to Democrats.” Sixteen key provisions hamper the right to vote, especially in the urban and suburban counties that vote Democratic, or take power away from state and local election officials—like the secretary of state, who refused to throw the election to Trump in 2020—and give it to partisan legislators.
If it’s true that the Georgia law is no big deal, Democracy Docket founder and election law defender Marc Elias asked, “why are three separate Republican Party Committees spending money intervening in court to defend it—claiming that if the law is struck down it will disadvantage the [Republicans] in elections?”
MLB’s decision was actually not prompted by Stacey Abrams, who rejected calls for a boycott and urged companies not to leave the state but to stay and fight for voting rights. She tweeted that she was “disappointed” that MLB would move the All-Star Game “but proud of their stance on voting rights.”
Former House Speaker John Boehner, who presided over the House during the Republican wave of 2010, published a preview of his forthcoming book that makes some sense of the Republican attempt to divert attention to Abrams. He says that the rise of the internet meant that by 2010, Republican lawmakers were taking their orders from internet media websites and the Fox News Channel, their only aim to keep viewers engaged and cash flowing.
The Republican focus on media, rather than policy, has mushroomed until lawmakers are now reduced to talking about Dr. Seuss and the Potato Head clan rather than answering the needs of voters, with no policy besides “owning the libs.”
And now they are trying to pin the decisions of MLB on the “socialist” Stacey Abrams, a voting-rights advocate, rather than on the Georgia Republican legislature’s open attempt to undermine democracy.