Regardless of what you think of Georgia’s Senate Bill 202, the Peach State’s new election law, there is one takeaway that cannot go unnoticed: the immediate response from multinational corporations headquartered in Georgia to the legislation’s passage.
Coca-Cola, Delta Air Lines and Major League Baseball all have condemned the law, either through statements and/or actions, which was a response to allegations of election improprieties during the 2020 campaign cycle.
Corporations have always had an odd arrangement with politics. Amoral entities with deep pockets that exist in the interest of a bottom line or stock price do not necessarily have the public’s best interests in mind.
When a company advocates for a candidate, political position or policy position, it is done in the name of ethical or moral virtue. But somewhere in the calculus of deciding for that advocacy, the corporate governance is evaluating what that would mean for the company.
Obviously, that varies from corporation to corporation. For example, Chick-fil-A and McDonald’s take two vastly different approaches to politics and policy.
The unmistakable trend over the last few years is a lot of big companies have veered left. In backrooms, they lobby for lower taxes and less regulation. In public, they champion the usual platitudinous liberal slogans like “diversity is strength,” etc.
Has it occurred to anyone this is more about branding than championing substantive social change?
Go woke or go broke.
The 2010 Citizens United v. FEC Supreme Court decision changed how the government regulates corporations in elections on the grounds of free speech. Like it or not, in many cases, corporations have the same protections individuals have when it comes to free speech.
Since that 2010 ruling, the institutional left in America has figured out how to sway big business its way. Right before our eyes, left-wing storefronts are steering Wall Street’s politics through threats of boycotts and exploitation of the companies’ public relations departments.
Conservatives have no response to this. Sure, you will hear someone suggest a boycott here and there against Target or Kellogg’s. However, conservatives typically do not allow politics to dominate their lives. When they go to the grocery store, purchases are not made based on taking a moral stand but on the practical use of the product they are purchasing.
Given Delta’s outspoken criticism of the Georgia law, if you are a conservative, would you be willing to fly from Mobile through Houston to get to New York City on apolitical United Airlines? Or would you just suck it up and fly “woke” American Airlines or Delta through Charlotte or Atlanta, if it means a considerably lower cost or faster flight?
The airlines are incorporating that in their decision-making. Logistics and price dictate most conservatives’ airline choices, not politics. Liberals, however, seem more willing to avoid a company whose politics conflict with their politics.
Over time, that creates an imbalance, which we are seeing in Georgia and could someday see in Alabama.
The Alabama Legislature has taken up a handful of measures over the last couple of regular sessions dealing with abortion, transgender athletics and elections.
The 2019 abortion ban signed into law by Gov. Kay Ivey was supposed to have economic consequences. We never actually saw them. It remains to be seen if Georgia will suffer any more than losing the Major League Baseball All-Star Game.
On the other side of that, it is not what corporations do for our states, but what our states do for these woke corporations.
Consider the economic incentives Alabama doles out to companies annually. It is shameless corporate welfare and every state does it. For that reason, if you want companies like Amazon, Google, Apple, Toyota, Mercedes, etc., locating in Alabama, we had best engage in this approach of using tax abatement as bait.
Most Alabamians are OK with that approach. It is the economics of the day. There seems to be a problem when amoral corporate America challenges the local politics and cultural norms of a state, as is underway in Georgia.
The proper approach to challenge a law perceived to be wrong or unjust passed by a state legislature would be to work in the next election cycle to swing control of the body from one party to another.
If that approach takes too long, then you can take a state to court, as is the case with the state of Alabama’s abortion ban law.
That is not seen as an efficient approach either. You demagogue something you do not like as racist, bigoted, homophobic, transphobic, etc. Then you pressure companies to see things your way, which is seen to achieve results on this front.
Governors and legislators are starting to push back and regain control of these situations.
Ideally, isn’t that the way we should want it?
You get to vote for governors and legislatures. Unless you are a shareholder, you have little say over who gets to be on the board of directors or who is the CEO.
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