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On Friday, Major League Baseball pulled the 2021 All-Star Game out of Atlanta in response to Georgia’s recently enacted voter suppression laws, those laws themselves a response to Georgia’s voters rejecting as much of the Republican party as they could in recent elections. You know, like the one that booted the truly wretched (and never elected) Kelly Loeffler from office and also convinced her to sell her stake in the WNBA’s Atlanta Dream.
You can debate whether what MLB is doing is the right thing or not — do the people in Georgia who will be impacted by this restriction of voting rights want these boycotts of the state? Is this anything more than a corporate reaction to which way the winds are blowing, in the same way their empty rhetoric around Black Lives Matter was around one year ago? — but what’s undeniable is that the decision to pull the All-Star Game out of Atlanta has infuriated the right. That’s no surprise, given they’ve been trying to spin what’s going on in Georgia as a strengthening of voter rights, not a direct attack on them, and also because like, three-quarters of what they’re up to now is culture war, America-is-being-canceled bullshit. MLB basically threw catnip for racists at a bunch of racists.
You can read plenty of folks who will do the above more justice than I — Louis Moore wanted MLB to fight back against Jim Crow-style tactics once again as they did in the 60s, Demetrius Bell is disappointed he won’t be going to the All-Star Game but thinks MLB did the right thing — so instead I want to focus on how the right has decided to react. Not the “boycott Coke!” stuff from a bunch of people I don’t trust to successfully order a soda brand owned by someone other than Coca Cola, but instead, the almost immediate calls to revoke MLB’s antitrust exemption because of their decision to move the All-Star Game.
Representative Jeff Duncan of South Carolina “instructed his staff” to draft legislation to revoke the exemption. He was quote tweeted by Utah Senator Mike Lee, who asked “Why does MLB still have antitrust immunity? It’s time for the federal government to stop granting special privileges to specific, favored corporations—especially those that punish their political opponents.” Missouri Senator Josh Hawley tweeted that, “The woke capitalists [editor’s note: lmao] continue their campaign of retaliation & suppression against anyone who stands for election integrity. They tried it against me, and now they’re at it with Georgia. MLB should lose its government handout antitrust exemption.”
For like half of the above, I am doing the Jack Nichsolson nodding and smiling meme, but it’s all the parts where they go “MLB should lose their exemption/the government should stop doing favors for corporate interests” and so on. Of course, that’s the part they don’t mean, and the rest is, as said, culture war bullshit and accusing their enemies of doing the very thing that they’re guilty of doing, which is pretty standard operating procedure for these ghouls.
Imagine Republicans hating big business and corporate interest. You can’t! Not these more fascist-flavored Republicans, not the especially war-mongering ones, not the Reagan Republicans or whatever other ones you can think of. Even Teddy Roosevelt was just trying to save capitalism from itself with his trust busting. So yes, all of the above is laughable, and there is no way they are actually going to go through with removing MLB’s antitrust exemption, which is a real shame in a vacuum, because it should be revoked. There is no excuse for them to have it, and the House is the arm of government able to revoke it with the least mess, since their decisions are not retroactive like that of the Supreme Court, which gave MLB the exemption to begin with a century ago.
The exemption allowed MLB to build unchecked power for the last century, which in turn let them enact a hostile takeover of Minor League Baseball. It should be revoked, burned, its ashes scattered — the exemption, I mean, I wasn’t referring to MiLB like MLB’s powers that be do — but the goal of these Republican politicians is just to make some noise and create more enemies for their frothing-at-the-mouth followers to be sicced on. They keep getting votes if their followers have someone to blame besides their own favored leaders for their plight, for the state of the world, of their life, and MLB is now part of this cycle, one which helps hide that historically it’s large, conservative companies like MLB that keep these politicians and their awful interests funded.
The shoe that I’m waiting to drop here is for certain extremely gullible Democrats to turn around and defend MLB’s antitrust exemption, only serving to strengthen what is already a nearly unassailable position, just because some GOP members who are better at stirring up the public spoke out against it. The rabbit season/duck season thing is an old tactic, sure, but the classics are classics for a reason. The GOP will do or say anything that they think will allow them to maintain power and plant deeper roots in the structures of American politics, and that includes turning on MLB and exemptions for corporate interests. They don’t have to believe it: they just need you (and enough Democrats) to believe that they do.
This would allow the Republicans to look like victims here, ones corned by Big Business and the Democrats who love it, while in reality they’d be maintaining the status quo they love so much, i.e., receiving support from many of their culture war opponents who are similarly just trying to avoid being buried in or by a changing world.
MLB’s antitrust exemption should absolutely be revoked. It says something about the nature of it and of the people in government, though, that revoking it only comes up from someone besides some writers when it’s a political savvy move to mention it. And, in the case of the Republican politicians quoted above, when it can be weaponized against the rights of voters, the rights of Black Georgians, which are under assault.