Georgia, the MLB, & the War Against Woke Corporations

    Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell. (Jonathan Ernst/Reuters)

    The egregious decision by Major League Baseball to move the All-Star Game from Georgia over its disagreement with a piece of legislation passed by the state legislature has been a seminal moment in the development of woke capitalism.

    Conservatives have, for decades, complained about the liberal cultural influence of Hollywood, the media, and academia. But it’s undeniable that in recent years, major corporations have grown into the central cultural enforcer of the Left.

    The MLB decision followed statements from Coca-Cola, Delta, and other large companies denouncing the voting law, which has been subject of dishonest claims from Democrats and their media allies.

    Also, the Georgia fight did not happen in a vacuum. In recent weeks, Republican governors in Arkansas and South Dakota, arguably due to corporate pressure, vetoed legislation dealing with transgender issues. And the most recent controversies come at a time when there is an ongoing debate over Big Tech’s efforts to curb conservative speech.

    Many conservatives have been itching to go to the mattresses against corporate wokeness for years. For others who weren’t quite there yet, the Georgia fiasco was the last straw. So there is now a large contingent of conservatives who are out for blood.

    Republicans have begun to respond to this sentiment and seek out ways to punish companies who use their influence as a hammer against the cultural Left. Woke mobs will use all forms of intimidation to pressure companies to do their bidding, the argument goes, so now it’s time for Republicans to use all the tools at their disposal to fight back.

    As an example, Georgia’s House of Representatives voted to strip Delta of a special tax break. Though largely symbolic, because the state senate did not take up the measure before adjourning, it was a sign of where things are heading.

    Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell also released a statement ominously warning that, “Corporations will invite serious consequences if they become a vehicle for far-left mobs to hijack our country from outside the constitutional order.”

    If Republicans were to get serious about ending special favors for corporations in general, it would be a positive development. To be clear, states and the federal government should keep taxes low and maintain reasonable and predictable regulations. But they should not provide special subsidies or tax carveouts to penalize or reward favored industries or businesses. They should not tempt rich owners of sports leagues with government funding for sports stadiums. Or lure Hollywood productions with special tax incentives. Or provide large companies with special tax breaks to get them to do business in their states.

    However, as tempting as it may feel, it is not appropriate to target specific corporations on the basis of taking political stances, however obnoxious and ill-informed those stances may be. Corporations and their executives have every right to weigh in on political questions. And MLB can hold their baseball game wherever they want. The tax break against Delta is either good or bad, but policy should not be based on the company’s role in the cultural war. To seek retribution against companies that express a particular viewpoint is also likely to invite constitutional challenges.

    So, if there is increasing anger against corporations, it would be productive for Republicans to use this as the opportunity to reexamine the relationship between big government and big business in a broader sense rather than to retaliate against specific companies after the fact.

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