No one should stay out of politics

Steve Gillespie

After showing us how he really feels recently, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) decided he’d better rein in his emotions, poor thing.

When Major League Baseball pulled its scheduled All-Star Game out of Atlanta, and Coca-Cola, and Delta Air Lines publicly objected to Georgia’s voting law changes, McConnell said it was “stupid” for companies to “jump in the middle of a highly controversial issue.”

He also blurted out a warning for businesses to “stay out of politics.”

Later, like the next day, McConnell said what he said, wasn’t said very “artfully.”

“They’re certainly entitled to be involved in politics. They are,” McConnell said. “My principal complaint is they didn’t read the darn bill.”

What bill would that be? The 98-page-bill changing Georgia voting laws? The one regarding what he called a “highly controversial issue?”

According to Associated Press reporting, there have been more than 350 different voting bills in dozens of states, including here in Arkansas, intended to change election laws that include restrictions on outside polling places and on absentee ballots.

Some say these restrictions won’t discourage eligible voters from voting, or prevent their votes from being counted, some say they will.

Baseball Commissioner Robert D. Manfred, Jr. said the decision to move the All-Star Game from Atlanta to Denver was done after “thoughtful conversations with Clubs, former and current players, the Players Association, and The Players Alliance.”

“Major League Baseball fundamentally supports voting rights for all Americans and opposes restrictions to the ballot box,” Manford said. “We proudly used our platform to encourage baseball fans and communities throughout our country to perform their civic duty and actively participate in the voting process. Fair access to voting continues to have our game’s unwavering support.”

Our own U.S. Sen. John Boozman (R-Ark.) put out a column stating that baseball “is supposed to bring us together, not divide us along political or cultural lines.” He said we must leave politics on the campaign trail and out of ballparks, stadiums and arenas.

Frankly, NOTHING should be left only to politicians, and when it comes to laws being made, I’m glad baseball calls ’em like it sees ’em. Thank goodness Major League Baseball didn’t think its place was to turn a blind eye to political and cultural issues in 1947 when Jackie Robinson came along.

And guess what! These baseball, airline, and soda pop people that haven’t read these voting law changes are apparently not alone. Last week, several hundred companies and executives signed off on a statement opposing any discriminatory legislation to restrict voting in a letter published in The New York Times and The Washington Post. Signees included Amazon, Google, Starbucks, Bank of America, Warren Buffett, Michael Bloomberg, as well as law firms and nonprofit organizations.

I mean, you’d think at least SOMEONE out of all these groups, and businesses, and people, or at least a lawyer representing someone or something, would have read and understood what these laws are really about, right?

Maybe its politicians that should stay out of business. You may remember that Georgia lawmakers voted in 2018 to strip a tax break that Delta enjoyed on jet fuel after the airline ended a discount program for National Rifle Association members, although the then-governor restored the benefit. According to the AP, the Georgia House voted again to kill the tax break after the Delta CEO criticized the voting law, but the Senate adjourned without taking action.

So yes, companies are entitled to be involved in politics beyond just shoveling donations to politicians and political action committees, and that includes baseball. If businesses, sports and entertainment groups, or individuals, want to speak out against, and/or object to certain laws – so be it. Hobby Lobby knows there’s nothing wrong with that.

Let’s just say voting restriction laws are against the religion of the companies that object to them, if that makes anyone feel any better about it.

Steve Gillespie is editor of The Times Dispatch. Email him at editor@thetd.com.

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