April 15, 2016
It's tough to be more unpopular than the Obama administration -- but Big Business is succeeding! The two cellar-dwellers were only separated by a few percentage points in public opinion (33 percent to the president's 41) in November. Now that companies are picking a fight with voters in North Carolina and Mississippi, not only are large corporations disliked, but accused of doing more harm than good.
Based on Pew Research's survey, only a third of people think Big Business is having a positive impact on the country. (Ironically, they say the same about Hollywood, companies' newest pals in the fight against freedom.) Of course, corporate America is used to being the Left's villain -- but this latest fracturing with consumers should keep plenty of CEOs up at night. How did the economic engine of America become so unpopular? Simple: capitulation. And not just on social policy. Long before Disney, PayPal, Facebook, Coca-Cola, and others started bashing the idea of more autonomy for themselves, corporations were double-crossing Republicans on climate change, energy policy, and Obamacare. Now that they're turning their fire on social conservatives, the circle of conservative betrayal is almost complete.
"U.S. capitalism is the wonder and envy of the world," Kimberley Strassel writes in today's Wall Street Journal. "The greater wonder is that it remains so, despite the pusillanimous behavior of its most prominent representatives." After all, she goes on, it's corporate America "(Pfizer, the American Medical Association, America's Health Insurance Plans) that sold out health care to the Obama administration, each company and trade organization hoping to cut its own special deal. It's the Solyndras and Fisker Automotives and A123 Systems that sucked up stimulus money and left taxpayers with the bill. It's the Boeings and Caterpillars that insist on subsidies from the Export-Import Bank. It's the car companies that folded to higher mileage standards, the Internet companies that folded to net neutrality, the agribusinesses that finagled expensive ethanol mandates, and the big retailers that push for Internet taxation to hobble smaller competitors. Who will stand up for free markets? 'Not I.'" Today, it's bathrooms and religious liberty. Tomorrow, who knows what values Big Business will compromise?
Unfortunately, too many of these CEOs refuse to recognize the truth, which is that religious liberty is good for everyone! Not just for common decency -- but for their economic gain. If companies don't want to take our word for it, take ALEC's. They found that the reddest states are also the most prosperous. Add religious liberty laws into the mix, and you've made up the majority of the top 20 thriving states in America! "Corporations should focus on creating jobs and serving their customers," William Ligon argues in the Wall Street Journal, instead of threatening states with economic retribution. Well-intentioned policies to encourage diversity and inclusion seem to have curdled into political correctness and antipathy for people of faith... Too many business leaders are embracing a politically correct social agenda, trying to force every state and every citizen to walk in lockstep." As a result, they risk offending millions of religious consumers.
"If businesses hope to thrive, they may want to avoid being seen as hostile to the beliefs and values many of their customers hold dear." One look at the Charlotte rally in support of H.B. 2 paints a better picture of that than anyone could. Hundreds crowded out the square, while protestors barely filled up a few squares of concrete across the street. Yet this tiny sliver of opponents is the remnant that 120 corporations are catering to! How short-sighted must they be?
If Big Business wants to play Judas, it will cost them more silver than they get. Already, organizations like Second Vote are filling conservatives' inboxes with alternatives to liberal sympathizers like PayPal. With so many other easy and affordable options, Christians shouldn't hesitate to jump ship to companies less hostile to their values. If these CEOs are so desperate for the Left's seal of approval, fine. But they'd better be careful what they wish for!
For more on Corporate America biting the conservative hand that feeds it, check out my new op-ed in The Hill, "Big Business Will Never Appease the Left."
Tony Perkins' Washington Update is written with the aid of FRC senior writers.