Do-gooders pressure corporate baddies to stop subsidizing America’s most notorious hate group: the Republican Party.
“These companies have a choice right now, a history-making choice,” Rashad Robinson, Color of Change executive director, told the New York Times. “Do they want riots brought to us by Coca-Cola?”
The Old Gray Lady this week detailed the Grand Old Party’s difficulties enticing corporate behemoths, including Coke, to provide sponsorship to its convention at previous levels. “Tell the CEOs, Chief Marketing Officers, and Senior Vice Presidents of Public Affairs at Coca-Cola, Google, Xerox, AT&T, Adobe Systems, and Cisco,” Color of Change instructs its followers. “Immediately cancel your sponsorship of a Donald Trump-led Republican National Convention,” an event it characterizes as advancing “hate-filled and racist rhetoric,” “intolerance,” and “violent attacks against minority groups and women.”
The bad business of alienating roughly half of potential customers more often involves policy than campaigns.
Last week, the NBA, along with Disney, Salesforce, and other multibillion-dollar corporations, threatened to review business in the Tar Heel State because of a new North Carolina law that restricts multiple-person public bathrooms in government facilities to use by the sex indicated on the door insignia, a rule heretofore so uncontroversial that codifying it by legislation seemed redundant. A religious freedom law, subsequently vetoed by Georgia Governor Nathan Deal, prompted the NFL to question the wisdom of awarding the Super Bowl to a forthcoming tax-funded stadium in Atlanta. In the wake of Donald Trump’s full-throated stand against illegal immigration, the Professional Golfers’ Association of America last year ultimately cancelled the now-defunct PGA Grand Slam of Golf rather than play at a course owned by the billionaire presidential candidate.
This political bullying by corporations already takes place to a great extent in media. Watch the ads on MSNBC — note no demand to watch the less interesting programming — and compare them to the spots on the Fox News Channel. One gleans the impression from the daytime loop of mesothelioma, reverse-mortgage, and silver-coin commercials on FNC that its ratings barely eclipse those for a public-access channel, let alone their more liberal competitor. Turning the station during yesterday’s lunch hour to MSNBC, the TV blared messages from Liberty Mutual, GE, Subaru, TIAA, and Aleve.
A Manichaeism pervades American politics. Partisans increasingly see the other side as not merely mistaken but evil. What once prompted debate and conversation now engenders censorship and exile. “Here’s why you’re wrong…” yields to “That’s offensive!”
One of the great corporate purveyors of this us-versus-them mentality recently lectured America about “division,” “exclusion,” “fear,” and a number of other platitudes masquerading as words. In joining American Airlines, Uber, and other corporate bullies in demanding the repeal of the North Carolina no-dudes-in-the-ladies’-room law, banishing Christmas imagery from its coffee cups, and telling gun owners that their establishments don’t respect customers’ Second Amendment rights, Howard Schultz’s Starbucks goes out of its way to bark at a large segment of the American population: you’re not welcome here.
The head of this company that politicizes something as apolitical an activity as drinking coffee sees himself as the right person to sermonize Americans on civility. CEO, heal thyself. Getting out of the business of politics and focusing on the business of coffee would seem a sensible start to achieving Schultz’s aim of tamping down the vitriol fostered by hyper-partisanship. Not calling everyone who disagrees with you a “bigot,” “racist,” “homophobe,” or some other term of derision losing currency from overuse might work as a second step. Schultz asks, “What is the role and responsibility of a for-profit company during these times?” Sell products, not sanctimony.
Much of the cynicism that the CEO correctly sees stems from frustrations over voter-supported legislation erased from the law books because people like Schultz enlist their friends with money to effectively blackmail elected officials to reverse course or enlist their allies with power in the courts to dub such laws illegal at their whim. Republics that say your votes don’t count when they irritate the powerful aren’t really republics.
The Left has a name for a system in which corporations dictate policy. But none dare call this fascism.