Rubio to Amazon: After your woke attacks on conservative values, don't expect Republicans to rescue you from unionization

Give Marco Rubio high marks for honesty about his purpose in supporting the union organizers against Amazon. The senator from Florida might talk about respecting workers in his op-ed in his USA Today, but Rubio is much more concerned about the disrespect Amazon shows to conservatives through its monopolistic power in the marketplace. Why bother to defend corporate giants from unionization, Rubio argues, when they spend most of their time attacking Republicans and their values?

For the past several years, Amazon has waged a war against working-class values. The Silicon Valley titan uses anticompetitive strategies to crush small businesses, bans conservative books and blocks traditional charities from participating in its AmazonSmile program. Not surprisingly, it has also bowed to China’s censorship demands. …

For decades, companies like Amazon have been allies of the left in the culture war, but when their bottom line is threatened they turn to conservatives to save them. Republicans have rightly understood the dangers posed by the unchecked influence of labor unions. Adversarial relations between labor and management are wrong. They are wrong for both workers and our nation’s economic competitiveness.

But the days of conservatives being taken for granted by the business community are over.

Here’s my standard: When the conflict is between working Americans and a company whose leadership has decided to wage culture war against working-class values, the choice is easy — I support the workers. And that’s why I stand with those at Amazon’s Bessemer warehouse today.

That decision is curiously absent of any substance regarding the actual dispute between Amazon and its workers. It’s one thing to say that the federal government shouldn’t intervene in the situation in either direction, which is certainly a proper position. Workers have a right to organize, and businesses have a right to debate and negotiate to avoid it, but the actual nuts and bolts of that process are governed by state laws as well as federal — and as legislators, senators have little to do with any of it. All they can impact are the statutes governing the process in general, not in any one dispute. It’s another thing entirely to just declare for the unions out of political spite.

This looks pretty nakedly partisan and political. On the other hand, so does this:

Amazon. AMZN 1.83% com Inc. said it recently removed a three-year-old book about transgender issues from its platforms because it decided not to sell books that frame transgender and other sexual identities as mental illnesses.

The company explained its decision in a letter Thursday to Republican Sens. Marco Rubio of Florida, Mike Lee of Utah, Mike Braun of Indiana and Josh Hawley of Missouri, which was reviewed by The Wall Street Journal. The senators had written last month to Chief Executive Jeff Bezos requesting an explanation of why “When Harry Became Sally: Responding to the Transgender Moment” was no longer available on Amazon nor on its Kindle and Audible platforms.

“As to your specific question about When Harry Became Sally, we have chosen not to sell books that frame LGBTQ+ identity as a mental illness,” Amazon said in the letter, which was signed by Brian Huseman, Amazon’s vice president of public policy, referring to sexual identities that include lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender, among others.

“When Harry Became Sally,” written by the conservative scholar Ryan T. Anderson, was published in February 2018. The book focuses on a variety of issues including gender identity.

But hey, you can still buy Mein Kampf on Amazon — and even on Prime and Kindle, too. Rubio’s larger point is well taken; Amazon has used its marketplace power to decide what can and cannot be discussed, in this case by removing anything that argues against the Left’s current cultural program on transgenderism. I wonder what the next verboten subject will be?

It’s worth noting too that Amazon still sells the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, also known by its version acronym DSM-5, considered the gold standard in identification and categorization of psychiatric illness. The DSM-5 lists gender dysphoria as a disorder and provides detailed diagnostic information relating to its emergence in children and in adolescents and adults (pp 452-469). Why refuse to a sell a book that specifically relies on the same gold standard that Amazon does sell? Even if Anderson’s argument is wrong, which Amazon notably does not claim, it’s still part of a legitimate debate. That’s certainly much more the case than Mein Kampf.

Rubio’s argument here misses the real problem, which isn’t unionization or even the knee-jerk Republican impulse to oppose it. The real issue is the monopolistic market power the US has allowed Amazon, Facebook, Google, and Apple to accrue in consumer markets. We discussed this last week with the N95 mask issue; this is another iteration of the same problem. Throwing in with the unions might make for a feel-good response to Amazon’s wokery, but it’s not even a pinprick for the real issue of monopoly behavior.

Let’s call this the right war but the wrong battle. If Rubio and his fellow conservatives really want to make progress against Big Tech and their cultural imperialism, they’d better start getting a lot more comfortable with the Sherman Act and robust anti-trust enforcement. Conservatives have been missing this boat for decades, and it may already be too late to do much about it — but that doesn’t excuse diversions like union organizing in place of it.