Corporations risk alienating a large portion of their consumer base if they continue to oppose new voting laws publicly, Republican lawmakers warn.
More than 100 corporate leaders tuned into a Zoom meeting over the weekend to plot their next steps following the passage of Georgia’s controversial voting law and other election bills lodged in several states. Some of the ideas discussed included reevaluating donations to candidates who support the laws and reconsideration of investments in states that adopt the voting proposals, moves that Republicans say may lead to right-wing blowback.
Sen. Pat Toomey, the ranking member of the Budget Committee, told the Washington Examiner on Monday that the rush by some corporations to “bend the knee to the woke mob [is] deeply disappointing and unlikely to serve their shareholders.”
“Many conservatives will inevitably choose to walk away from these businesses,” the Pennsylvania Republican said.
Corporations have been under heavy pressure from liberal activists to take a stand on this new slate of voting laws, but according to Joel Griffith, a research fellow at the Heritage Foundation, businesses publicly opposing the Republican-backed initiatives “certainly risk alienating” conservatives.
The recent tack taken by the corporations is likely to “backfire” as people begin delving into the facts of the bills and reading about the voting procedures that are actually being changed, Griffith said. “People are going to feel betrayed.”
“I think there is a growing sense that these corporations are bending to the ‘woke mobs,' and they either did not read the actual legislation that passed, or they failed to actually give it due consideration,” Griffith said.
Republican Sen. Marco Rubio told the Washington Examiner that corporations “risk serious consequences” by wading into the political waters while at the same time “cozying up and enriching the Chinese Communist Party, which is committing genocide in Xinjiang.”
“Most Americans are sick and tired of this far left activism, especially when it comes from corporations that have spent the last several decades offshoring American jobs, profiting off of slave labor, and attacking common-sense values,” the Florida lawmaker said in a Monday statement.
Earlier this month, Rubio specifically hammered Delta Air Lines, Georgia’s largest private employer, after its CEO called the Georgia voting law “unacceptable.” He accused the executive of hypocrisy, given that Delta, which openly declares itself as “the most Chinese-friendly U.S. airline” on its website, is speaking out about domestic politics.
“Delta Air Lines are business partners with the Chinese Communist Party, the same Chinese Communist Party that is committing genocide against Uyghur Muslims inside of China,” he said in a video posted to Twitter.
Florida GOP Sen. Rick Scott’s office also went after corporate ties to China in a Monday statement.
“Senator Scott thinks that everyone has the right to spend their hard-earned money the way they’d like, but the American people deserve to know that companies like Delta and Coke are doing business in Communist China, where a genocide is occurring and democracy doesn’t exist. They’re hypocrites,” his office said.
Rep. Carlos Gimenez echoed the cries of hypocrisy. In a statement to the Washington Examiner, he wondered why Major League Baseball, which moved its All-Star Game and 2021 draft from Atlanta to Colorado, doesn’t “call out the communist regime in Cuba for their decades of human rights abuses.”
“Follow the money and you'll see that these companies are profiting off oppressive regimes,” the Florida Republican said. “They care more about making money than they do about doing the right thing. They placate to the radical left because they are too scared of being canceled.”
Former President Donald Trump called for a boycott after several companies issued statements condemning the new Georgia voting bill. Among the companies Trump targeted were the MLB, Coca-Cola, Delta, JPMorgan Chase, ViacomCBS, Citigroup, Cisco, UPS, and Merck.
“Don’t go back to their products until they relent. We can play the game better than them,” Trump said in a missive earlier this month. The former president faced criticism shortly after the statement after he was photographed with what appeared to be a bottle of Coca-Cola on his desk.
Republican Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky joined Trump in suggesting a boycott of Coca-Cola last week during an appearance on Fox News, although there have not yet been widespread calls from GOP lawmakers urging voters to forgo the carbonated drinks or other products quite yet.
Griffith, the Heritage fellow, said that boycotts are sometimes successful, but a lot of the time, people aren’t thinking about politics when choosing which products to use, although he said that “there comes a point at which the politics become so in your face that consumers do look for alternatives.”
Despite the threat of boycotts and the looming prospect of conservative alienation, it doesn’t appear that the corporate drive to push back on voting law proposals is going away anytime soon.
After the dozens of executives met over the weekend, the Chief Executive Leadership Institute at Yale School of Management, the Coalition for Inclusive Capitalism, and the Leadership Now Project issued a joint statement noting the sheer volume of bills that might be opposed.
“The meeting builds on a growing chorus from business leaders to fight more than 350 voting laws being introduced in 47 states that are discriminatory and designed to limit Americans’ ability to vote,” they said.
“CEOs indicated readiness to act individually and collectively to shore up American democracy and ensure Americans have access to a world class voting system,” the statement continued.
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