Rubio: I'm tired of these woke corporate hypocrites like Delta who continue to do business with China

Managers of American corporations have every right to express political opinions on behalf of those entities, as Delta has done in condemning Georgia’s law.

And the rest of us have every right to inquire how they square their strong moral stance on modest changes to a state’s election statutes with their indifference to China’s crimes against humanity.

This really should be the standard response to moral peacocking by soulless business types, who even now are simply protecting their bottom line by criticizing Georgia. Delta was fine with the new law initially, then got an earful from the left and recalibrated out of fear of a boycott. They don’t care what Georgia does on the merits any more than they care what China does; it’s just that there’s a consumer constituency that’ll punish them for doing business with the former but not the latter. It’s useful to remind the public of that during episodes like this, as Rubio does here.

Byron York wrote about Delta’s about-face under progressive pressure this morning. A company can’t win by wading into politics, he notes, as it’s destined to alienate one side or the other — or both, as Delta has now done. So why do they keep doing it?

Just last week, Delta released a statement praising improvements in the bill — on absentee voting, weekend voting, poll worker flexibility, and more. Even though Delta conceded that “concerns remain over other provisions in the legislation,” the assessment was basically positive.

The statement prompted some ugly blowback from the left. Former MSNBC anchor Keith Olbermann tweeted, “Do not fly Delta. Do not spend money with Delta. Boycott Delta. Ruin Delta.” The hashtag #BoycottDelta began to fly around on Twitter…

[I]t’s enough to make a CEO tremble in fear. And so Bastian issued his new statement to the “Delta family.” Then Georgia Governor Brian Kemp cut Bastian’s legs out from under him. Delta did engage in the legislative process, Kemp said, and “At no point did Delta share any opposition to expanding early voting, strengthening voter ID measures, increasing the use of secure drop boxes statewide, and making it easier for local election officials to administer elections — which is exactly what this bill does.” Just to stick it in a little, Kemp added, “The last time I flew Delta, I had to present my photo ID.”

The wrinkle in York’s argument is that I doubt Delta had a choice. They could have clammed up about the law initially instead of issuing a statement praising the bill, sure, but they’re headquartered in Atlanta and are the state’s biggest employer. The left was always going to demand that they take a position; any refusal in the form of silence would have been deemed complicity. The real mystery is how Delta didn’t see the backlash coming when it put out its original statement. Had they not followed the partisan debate at all over voting rights and H.R. 1? The progressive reaction to Georgia’s law was as predictable as the sunrise.

The lower house of Georgia’s legislature has hit back at Delta, in a familiar way:

Georgia’s Republican-controlled House on Wednesday voted to revoke a major tax break for Delta Air Lines as punishment for its CEO’s public criticism of the state’s controversial new law clamping down on ballot access.

The state Senate did not take up the measure before lawmakers adjourned for the year, rendering it dead for this year — but the threat underscores the potential political backlash corporations could face for opposing efforts to restrict voting.

Rarely do you see a state government seek to retaliate against a critic in pecuniary terms as blatantly as that. The last time Georgia stripped the tax break on jet fuel for Delta, it was in response to the company discontinuing a special discount for NRA members in 2018. This time, Delta didn’t change any policy at all as far as I’m aware; all they did was say they disapprove of the new election law. I’d be curious to see how a First Amendment lawsuit would shake out challenging a “no tax breaks for government detractors” law, but as noted, the bill didn’t pass the senate. Maybe next year?

As for Rubio, this is the second time in a month that he’s attacked “woke corporations.” Last time he waded into Amazon’s dispute with unionizing workers in Alabama, arguing that he felt obliged to side with the workers — not because he thinks they’re necessarily entitled to higher wages and better benefits but because he doesn’t care for Amazon’s progressive cultural policies. For him, siding with the union was half a matter of spiting the company and half a leverage play to entice Amazon to be a bit less “woke” going forward. For all of his working-class pretensions, Rubio was essentially naming his price to sell out labor. In the case of Delta, it’s hard to tell if he’s making a rhetorical point or also issuing a demand for a policy change. Which would he prefer: Delta cutting ties with China for the sake of moral consistency with its criticism of Georgia, or Delta clamming up about Georgia but maintaining its business relationship with the CCP? If Rubio’s as offended by Chinese policies as he sounds, it should be the former. I sense it’s the latter.

I’ll leave you with this excellent question in light of this morning’s other Georgia news. Forget Delta’s hypocrisy. What about the hypocrisy of the president of the United States?