Out-of-Control Republican Cancel Culture Has Now Come for Coca-Cola

The soft drink company has joined the ranks of Major League Baseball and Delta Airlines.
April 5, 2021, 4:42pm
Coca-Cola signage atop the Olympia Building downtown in Atlanta, Georgia on July 27, 2019.

So-called “cancel culture” has become a key part of the GOP’s grievance cycle and political platform, but Georgia Republicans are now wielding their own brand of cancellation against corporations criticizing their new voter suppression laws.

Eight Georgia Republican state representatives sent a letter to Atlanta-based Coca-Cola this weekend, lambasting the company for criticizing the state’s new restrictions on voting, which were signed into law by Gov. Brian Kemp last month. 

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"Your company has made the conscious decision to perpetuate a national dialogue which seeks to intentionally mislead the citizens of Georgia and deepen a divide in our great State," the legislators wrote in the letter, which came days after Coca-Cola CEO James Quincey called the legislation “unacceptable” and “a step backward.” The rushed-through legislation includes unlimited challenges to voter registration and eligibility, granting local officials the right to replace election officials, and limiting the times that drop-off boxes for ballots are available to the public on early voting days. 

"Given Coke's choice to cave to the pressure of an out-of-control cancel culture, we respectfully request all Coca-Cola Company products to be removed from our office suite immediately," the representatives continued. They added that if Coca-Cola stops criticizing the bill they just passed, "we would welcome a conversation to rebuild a working relationship."

The Coke saga reflects the widening split between the Republican Party and big business, the latter of which has been the cornerstone of the conservative movement for decades. Republicans are now drawing a line in the sand for companies that criticize them, demanding they get on board with all of the GOP’s platform—not just the tax breaks.

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Last month, for example, Florida Sen. Marco Rubio wrote an op-ed for USA Today in which he announced his support for the union drive at an Amazon fulfillment center in Bessemer, Alabama, because, from his perspective, the company “has decided to wage culture war against working-class values.” 

“If Amazon thinks that conservatives will automatically rally to do its bidding after proving itself to be such enthusiastic culture warriors, it is sorely mistaken,” he wrote. 

Coke isn’t the only company the Georgia GOP is targeting. After Delta Airlines’ CEO bashed the new voter restriction law last week, the Georgia House passed a last-minute bill that would end a tax exemption on jet fuel. The bill did not pass the state Senate before the end of the legislative session.

Georgia House Speaker David Ralston, a Republican, was explicit about the purpose of the bill. “They like our public policy when we’re doing things that benefit them,” he told reporters last week. “You don’t feed a dog that bites your hand. You got to keep that in mind sometimes.”

“I feel so good not drinking Diet Coke on a Delta flight,” Matt Schlapp, the president of the American Conservative Union, the group that runs the Conservative Political Action Conference, tweeted Monday. 

Last week, Major League Baseball announced it would relocate the 2021 All-Star Game and baseball’s amateur draft from Atlanta because of the new law. On Saturday, former President Donald Trump issued a statement backing a boycott of MLB and the companies.

“It is finally time for Republicans and Conservatives to fight back—we have more people than they do—by far! Boycott Major League Baseball, Coca-Cola, Delta Airlines, JPMorgan Chase, ViacomCBS, Citigroup, Cisco, UPS, and Merck,” Trump said. 

“Don’t go back to their products until they relent,” he added. “We can play the game better than them.”