This is outrageous. It really is, even if you think the cause is righteous. I will explain. But first, look at what happened over the weekend:
More than 120 CEOs, business leaders, lawyers and experts came together Saturday afternoon to discuss further action against voting legislation nationwide, attendees on the call said.
The group discussed numerous options to push back against the Republican-led efforts to restrict access to the ballot box, including pulling their donations, refusing to move business or jobs to states that pass restrictive measures, and relocating events, said one of the call’s organizers, Jeffrey Sonnenfeld.
“It was incredibly concrete,” said Sonnenfeld, a professor at the Yale School of Management.
The meeting was first reported Sunday by The Wall Street Journal.
Public statements, support for federal election legislation and involvement in voting rights-related legal action are all under consideration, said Mike Ward, co-founder of the Civic Alliance, a nonpartisan group that encourages civic participation by businesses.
“This priority on democracy is being driven by consumers and by employees,” Ward said.
A wide variety of industries were represented: financial, pharmaceutical, travel, technology, retail and transportation. Notable attendees were Brad Karp of the law firm Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison; LinkedIn co-founder Reid Hoffman; Mellody Hobson of Ariel Investments; Chip Bergh of Levi Strauss; and Arthur Blank, co-founder of Home Depot and owner of the Atlanta Falcons.
Representatives of AMC Theaters and three major airlines also attended.
“The overriding spirit is they don’t want politicians using wedge issues to try and solidify their hold on office, because that leads to angry communities and finger-pointing workforces and divided shareholders. It makes their job as CEOs harder to manage these constituents. They want social harmony,” Sonnenfeld said.
As corporate America continues to push back against a wave of restrictive voting laws under discussion across the United States, Big Law is joining the fight.
A coalition of 60 major law firms has come together “to challenge voter suppression legislation and to support national legislation to protect voting rights and increase voter participation,” said Brad Karp, the chairman of the law firm Paul Weiss and the organizer of the group, which has not been formally announced.
Mr. Karp said the coalition would “emphatically denounce legislative efforts to make voting harder, not easier, for all eligible voters, by imposing unnecessary obstacles and barriers on the right to vote.”
Many of Wall Street’s most powerful firms are also part of the effort, including Simpson Thacher; Skadden Arps; Akin Gump; Cravath, Swaine & Moore; Ropes & Gray; Sullivan & Cromwell; Weil, Gotshal & Manges and Wachtell Lipton.
“We plan to challenge any election law that would impose unnecessary barriers on the right to vote and that would disenfranchise underrepresented groups in our country,” Mr. Karp said.
Do they know precisely what is being proposed by these voting laws? If they are mostly concerned about voters having to present identification to vote, they can suck eggs. People have to present IDs for all kinds of things. Doing so to vote legally is perfectly reasonable.
There is more to these proposals than voter ID, I know, and maybe some of the proposed reforms are unnecessary or otherwise wrongheaded. I don’t know what is being proposed in all these states, and I would bet my next paycheck that only a handful of these CEOs know. We do know that despite all the wailing and gnashing of teeth, the Georgia law makes Georgia’s voting rules still less restrictive than the ones in other states, like New York.
The point of my post is not about whether or not this or that state’s proposed voting reforms are good or bad public policy. The point is to talk about how outrageous it is that Big Business is involving itself in state legislation that has nothing at all to do with its activities in those states. Sonnenfeld’s line about how business leaders want “social harmony” is utter bullsh*t. They want social liberalism, and are willing to swing their economic weight around to get it. They did this in Indiana in 2015 to kill the state’s Religious Freedom Restoration Act. They’re going to do it here.
For years I have been told by lobbyists for churches and religious liberty organizations that major corporations have put heavy pressure on state legislators to kill religious liberty legislation. Why? First person who says “because corporations want social harmony” gets a cream pie in the face. If Big Business was promoting religious liberty legislation, the pleasure I would take in seeing laws I like supported by corporations would not be great enough to overcome the concern over Big Business involving itself like this in our democratic politics.
You know what would be impressive? If these titans of industry stood up to the Chinese government on behalf of the Uighur Muslims who are being genocided right now. None of them will, though, because they are greedy cowards.
This is progressive oligarchy. Woke Capitalism is a threat to democracy. As I write about in Live Not By Lies, these same people are eventually going to eagerly collaborate with government to create the Social Credit System necessary to make this country controllable.
When is it going to occur to people on the Left that Big Business is doing all this because it knows that if it makes the right moves on cultural issues that matter to the Woke, it will be able to do whatever it wants to workers? It has never had to worry about Republicans. That may be changing soon, if we elect a crop of populists who know how to do more than tweet and make belligerent but empty speeches. I’d like to see Republicans like this get elected, and get active to remind Big Business of its proper place:
UPDATE: I see that some folks just don’t get the alarm. Let me try a different way. Big Business is already quite powerful in our society. Do we really want a society in which Big Business reserves to itself the right to tell polities what their laws and policies are going to be, at the risk of punishing that polity economically if it resists? Does this sound like the kind of country you want to live in? If you are pro-choice, imagine that Big Business decided to threaten your state’s legislature with economic consequences if it doesn’t pass pro-life legislation. One expects the business lobby to engage itself on legislative questions pertaining to its own sphere, but beyond it? Big Business already has a lot of power over our lives — and now it wants more. The only force powerful enough to reign it in is the State. Whatever else you might say about the State, at least it is democratically accountable — unlike Big Business.
These guys get it – unlike the rest of the Conservative Corporate Complex. The window to exercise public control over these massively wealthy and powerful oligarchies is closing. The left is bought and paid for. Conservatives must act now, using the power of the state. https://t.co/2MT3dSdUoa
— Patrick Deneen (@PatrickDeneen) April 13, 2021