I missed this statement from last night when writing up Biden’s comments earlier about MLB moving the All-Star Game out of Georgia to protest the new election law. If there’s any Democrat with more sway than President Joe over how corporate America behaves in GA, it’s Abrams, the rising star whose turnout machine delivered three shocking Democratic victories last year and who’s become the most visible voting-rights advocate in the country.
Is this enough to make Major League Baseball and other industries, like Hollywood, think twice?
Even if it isn’t, it’s a smart play by someone who’s going to run for office again next year.
“I understand the passion of those calling for boycotts of Georgia following the passage of SB 202,” said Abrams, who founded the voting rights organization Fair Fight Action in 2018. “Boycotts have been an important tool throughout our history to achieve social change. But here’s the thing: Black, Latino, AAPI and Native American voters, whose votes are the most suppressed under HB 202, are also the most likely to be hurt by potential boycotts of Georgia.”
“To our friends across the country, please do not boycott us,” Abrams continued. “And to my fellow Georgians, stay and fight, stay and vote.”
Abrams is an activist second and an aspiring governor first, and aspiring governors can’t be cheerleading economic ruin for the state they hope to lead. I wrote in the Biden post that a corporate boycott of Georgia over the election law could actually help Brian Kemp, first by getting righty populists back on his side against the left and second by making swing voters angry at progressives for driving business away. Abrams recognizes that peril and knows she’ll take the blame from voters in 2022 if companies start bailing out of Georgia. So she’s contradicting Biden: Yes to corporate activism but no to corporate boycotts.
Abrams herself, in a 2019 interview with the Los Angeles Times, appeared to discourage entertainment companies from boycotting the state in response to the abortion law.
“While I understand the calls for a boycott in Georgia, I’m going to follow a different path,” she said at the time. “I think the superior opportunity for Georgia, in the specific, is to actually use the entertainment industry’s energy to support and fund the work that we need to do on the ground because Georgia is on the cusp of being able to transform our political system.”
She wants corporate cash to bankroll her and other lefty activists, not a corporate pullout that’ll breed local resentment of Democrats. As I say, a smart play. And one with national repercussions potentially: As you’ll see in the clip below, her first ask of companies in lieu of a boycott is to support H.R. 1, the House’s bloated election-reform bill whose chances of passing the Senate seem more remote by the day. A push from corporate America could make some senators think hard about saving the bill. Pressure Joe Manchin about voting rights, not Georgia, Abrams is saying. And some executives are listening. The chairman of Atlanta-based Coca-Cola is out today with a new statement following Abrams’s video last night in which he pledges an effort to get H.R. 1 passed: “[O]ur focus is now on supporting federal legislation that protects voting access and addresses voter suppression across the country. We all have a duty to protect everyone’s right to vote, and we will continue to stand up for what is right in Georgia and across the U.S.”
That’s the same Coca-Cola which not long ago lobbied against a bill in Congress that would have banned goods made by slave labor in Xinjiang, by the way. Democracy for America, totalitarianism for China: That’s the “woke” way.
Anyway, on the slim, slim, slim chance that they can twist Joe Manchin’s arm into supporting H.R. 1, corporate America will have undone parts of Georgia’s law simply by going over the state’s head, to the federal level. (At least until the Supreme Court nukes the new law as unconstitutional.) That’s Abrams’s strategy for now. Here she is begging companies not to boycott and trying to steer lefties away from putting pressure on them to do so, opting instead for the more productive strategy of making it easier for poor voters to obtain ID cards. They’ll need those going forward in Georgia in order to vote by mail. Abrams is wasting no time in starting the process.
VIDEO: Thanks to the efforts of activists, organizers and allied organizations, we stopped GA Republican legislators from passing key parts of their voter suppression wish list. Now corporate leaders must use their clout to show they stand with voters. #gapol pic.twitter.com/A3b0McaI1s
— Stacey Abrams (@staceyabrams) April 1, 2021