Coca-Cola Doesn’t Care About Your Voting Rights, They Care About Money
Georgia Republicans have passed sweeping voter suppression laws in response to Democrats winning the 2020 presidential and 2021 Senate races. Some liberals like to call these laws “Jim Crow 2.0," which implies that the original Jim Crow technically ended at some point. Jim Crow, especially in the South, has been more consistently “now and forever" than the musical Cats.
Dave Wasserman from Cook Political Report tweeted Friday that "Georgia is roughly where Virginia was a decade ago: Republicans still control state government and may be able to redistrict the state to their liking one last time ... but long-term/demographically, the writing is kinda on the wall." That's not good news for Republicans, who still behave as though Georgia is goddamn Mississippi. It's a tough road ahead, and when the going gets tough, Republicans cheat. That's not a folksy saying. That's just what happens. Brian Kemp is arguably only governor because he purged (improperly, according to an independent investigation) 340,000 voters from the registration rolls in a race he only won by 50,000 votes.
I've seen Democrats from Georgia making appeals to their conservative friends and relatives on social media, asking them to somehow justify the voter suppression laws. It's tough to accept that your loved ones are racist, but there is no excuse for denying water to (mostly Black) voters waiting in deliberately long lines. It just seems like you're helping your Republican friends workshop their BS explanations so “good" Republicans can later go on MSNBC and sell overt voter suppression to moderate Democrats.
As Republicans dance a tarantella on the grave of the 15th Amendment, people seem to think corporations might save the day. That's adorable.
What if Georgia had a really big company that already made bottled water and could commit to distribute water free to everyone voting on Election Day. A company so big, and prominent, and important to Georgia that it wouldn't be criminally prosecuted.
Elias is referring to the Atlanta-based Coca-Cola corporation, which produces Dasani bottled water. Washington, D.C., chef José Andrés also called on Coca-Cola to help.
Dear @CocaCola @CocaColaCo We the People need your help! Will you help me and many more friends, during the 2022 election in Georgia, to feed and water people waiting in line longer that 2 hours, to simply exercise their right to vote? Let's make sure Democracy is a celebration!
Coca-Cola describes Dasani as the "premium tasting water accessible to everyone," but it's actually bottled tap water sold at an absurd markup. We should install more public water fountains near polling places, but that's another post. Yes, Dasani ads might monetize Black culture but that doesn't mean Coca-Cola will have Black people's back.
Corporations don't do anything unless it increases shareholder profits. They are not civic-minded entities. Oh, but what about those “Black lives matter" and “you go, girl" messages they post on social media in honor of Black or women's history? That's just feel-good corporate posturing. They aren't taking an actual stand their PR departments would consider controversial. Corporations such as Coca-Cola, AT&T, Disney, Nike, et al often make public statements embracing social justice while donating to Republican candidates.
The Coca-Cola company has a long history of supporting Republican candidates. The company PAC donated $409.2k to Republicans in the 2016 cycle, the highest number since 1990. Since then, it has slightly reduced the amount it donates to Republicans, but it still makes significant contributions.
Coca-Cola went all in for the GOP during an election cycle when the party's standard bearer was a gross bigot whose platform included a Muslim ban. They also, notably, have historically gone to extreme lengths to quash unions at their bottling plants abroad, from union members at their Colombia bottling plant being conveniently assassinated by paramilitary death squads in 2001, or dismissing union leaders at their plant in the Philippines just last year for having a meeting to discuss their concerns about COVID risks, and then arresting workers who protested.
Coca-Cola made a weak statement last week about the voter suppression laws that sounded like it was workshopped on white liberals' Facebook pages:
Coca-Cola said in a statement it supports a "balanced approach to the elections bills that have been introduced in the Georgia Legislature this session."
"The ultimate goal should be fair, secure elections where access to voting is broad-based and inclusive," the company added.
There's nothing balanced about voter suppression. You're either on the side of actual democracy or you're a major corporate donor to Republicans. Coca-Cola has recently decreased its donations to GOP candidates, but that's likely not out of disgust but because these voter suppression laws make spending more money unnecessary. Jim Crow legislation is a true return on corporate investment.
However, please feel free to boycott Coca-Cola products until it cuts the tap on Republican candidates.
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Stephen Robinson is a writer and social kibbitzer based in Portland, Oregon. He writes reviews for the A.V. Club and make believe for Cafe Nordo, an immersive theatre space in Seattle. He's also on the board of the Portland Playhouse theatre. His son describes him as a “play typer guy."