The latest product to land on Republicans’ shitlist is Coca-Cola, in response to the beverage giant’s belated condemnation of a new Georgia voting law that, among other restrictions, makes absentee voting much harder, drastically cuts down on the number and accessibility of drop boxes during early voting, and bars anyone who isn’t an election worker from offering food and drink to voters waiting in line to cast their ballot, a process that can take hours at some polling locations.
The bill, which Joe Biden and others have likened to Jim Crow in the modern age, was signed into law on March 25, following historic wins for Democrats in the traditionally red state. Companies like Coca-Cola and Delta Air Lines, some of the largest employers in Georgia, remained publicly vague and mild until after the bill had passed. Facing mounting pressure — including calls for boycotts — from Democrats and Black leaders and executives, Coca-Cola’s CEO James Quincey finally said on March 31: “I want to be crystal clear … the Coca-Cola Company does not support this legislation, as it makes it harder for people to vote, not easier.”
Now, in a new-but-not-unexpected twist, Republicans are the ones calling for a boycott of the company, which was established in Georgia more than a century ago. On April 1, Georgia House of Representatives Speaker David Ralston made a show of cracking open a Pepsi after ending a legislative session. Over the weekend, eight Georgia GOP state legislators formally issued a letter to the Georgia Beverage Association requesting that Coca-Cola products be removed from their offices.
Some Georgia Republican state legislators are removing @CocaCola products from their statehouse offices after the Atlanta-based beverage giant criticized the new elections law. #gapol pic.twitter.com/leojXBGQAM— Greg Bluestein (@bluestein) April 3, 2021
Even former President Donald Trump got in on the action, issuing a statement (but not from his Twitter account, because he doesn’t have one anymore, because he is permanently suspended for inciting criminal violence) referencing “cancel culture,” falsely accusing the left of rigging the election, and urging supporters to boycott Coca-Cola, Major League Baseball, Delta, JPMorgan Chase, and other companies that have expressed opposition to the Georgia voting law. “Never submit, never give up! … We will not become a Socialist Nation,” Trump continues, before concluding, “Happy Easter!”
Coca-Cola now finds itself in an undesirable position, having spoken up about the voting law too late to gain favor with voting-rights activists and Democrats, while also inviting the anger of the right by speaking up at all. In an age when consumers believe in voting with their wallets, corporations should know by now that keeping silent is no longer a surefire way to maximize profits. Soft drinks, canned beans, burgers — eventually the culture wars come for all.