This year, both Georgia and Texas passed new voter integrity laws. The laws made voting more uniform and predictable for voters and had the additional benefit of reducing the potential for voter fraud. Critics contended that the laws were politically motivated. President Biden went further: he suggested that the laws were even worse than historical racial segregation in the deep South, commonly referred to as Jim Crow.
Other Democrats and leaders of global corporations also struck back, even convincing Major League Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred to take away the All-Star game from Atlanta. Biden unequivocally supported moving the game out of Georgia. The move sadly cost businesses in Atlanta millions of dollars in revenue. For Major League Baseball, though, that price wasn’t too high to pay in order to make their point.
But welcome to October baseball! Now that the Houston Astros and the Atlanta Braves are playing in the World Series, the nation’s eyes once again will turn to both Texas and Georgia, which will host the best-of-seven series. In a normal world, watching the World Series would be as American as apple pie. And all of that missing revenue from the All-Star game should come roaring back to Atlanta. But don’t expect any apologies from President Biden. Or former Georgia state legislator Stacey Abrams. I doubt you’ll hear from them at all.
How did we even get here? Well, for both Georgia and Texas, enacting the voter integrity laws was no small feat. Before Georgia passed its reforms in March, there was significant drama about the proposed laws.
Corporations based in Atlanta, like Delta, Coca-Cola, and ViacomCBS, publicly opposed the bill. A large virtual meeting was attended by more than 100 corporate CEOs, some of whom were coincidentally in Georgia for the Masters golf tournament, which carried on as usual.
Abrams, who does not acknowledge the voters’ choices in the 2018 Georgia governor’s race, seemed even to encourage a Georgia boycott in the press. However, the publication that printed her initial comments — USA Today — later allowed Abrams to edit her published piece, so as to downplay the idea that a boycott was appropriate.
Similarly, in Texas, Democrat state legislators fled the state to try to stop the state’s voting bill; the method temporarily succeeded by depriving the legislature of a quorum. The legislators instead fled to Washington, D.C., by private jet to lobby for the passage of sweeping federalization of voting laws — embodied in a bill commonly referred to as H.R.1 — which would have required every Democratic senator to vote to end the filibuster. They failed.
Indeed, even before the Texas Democrats’ lobbying efforts could truly get off the ground, at least six of the legislators who came to Washington, D.C., ended up contracting COVID-19. They were also mocked for asking the public to send care packages to their glitzy D.C. hotel, and for soliciting donations for salsa, hairspray, travel toiletries, and other items. Two Texas Democrats even left D.C. in order to vacation in Portugal. Eventually, though, enough Texas Democrats returned home, such that the legislature had a quorum, and Texas could pass its voter integrity reforms.
Now that the World Series is coming back to Georgia, Gov. Brian Kemp has already taken a victory lap. In a tweet on October 23, 2021, he lambasted Abrams and Major League Baseball while celebrating the home team’s accomplishments and cheering them on for the Series.
Presumably, Texas will also be celebrating when the Astros host their share of games for the Series. But we have yet to hear from Rob Manfred, the commissioner of Major League Baseball, who was roundly booed last year at the World Series, even before he played his part in any of these controversies.
And where does that leave President Biden and all the other critics of Georgia and Texas? If the state-based voter integrity laws are truly worse than racial segregation — “Jim Eagle,” as Biden suggested — it hardly makes sense for critics to stay silent as these teams host the World Series. Why should a boycott stop at the All-Star game, for instance, if the dire warnings of voter suppression and racial discrimination were accurate?
The question is whether Biden, Abrams, and Manfred have the courage of their convictions. Why didn’t they call for the World Series to be moved to a location outside of either Georgia or Texas? Why hasn’t Manfred boycotted the games? Instead, he’s been attending them in person. The answer, of course, is that they knew all along that their dire warnings were mere partisan rhetoric.
Thankfully, the silence of the politicians and corporations will mean that the rest of us can just enjoy the October classic. So play ball!