Over the weekend, the CEOs and executives of more than 100 major corporations took part in a massive Zoom call, but they weren’t discussing market competition or sales. They were meeting to consider a strategy to combat what they claim is “voter suppression” in Georgia and other states currently crafting similar election integrity laws. Among those in attendance were the owner of the Atlanta Falcons football franchise (who also co-founded Home Depot), the chairwoman of Starbucks, and the heads of several major airlines. They are all apparently quite concerned about states that want to prevent the massive confusion and potential fraud seen in the disastrous 2020 election, particularly when it comes to mountains of mail-in ballots that many states were clearly unprepared to deal with. But since these captains of industry are coming at the issue from the private sector, just what do they think they can do? (Daily Caller)
The leaders of over 100 major corporations spoke via Zoom on Saturday about how they could combat election integrity laws similar to the one passed in Georgia, according to multiple reports…
Jeffrey Sonnenfeld, a Yale School of Management professor who helped organize the meeting, told the Washington Post that the corporate leaders on the call “felt very strongly that these voting restrictions are based on a flawed premise and are dangerous.”
“There was a defiance of the threats that businesses should stay out of politics,” he continued. “They were obviously rejecting that even with their presence. But they were there out of concern about voting restrictions not being in the public interest.”
CONFIRMED: First-of-its-kind call between more than 100 top corporate leaders on Saturday focused on how to respond to proposed changes in state voting laws. Participants included top leaders of airlines, media, law, investment.
— Ed O'Keefe (@edokeefe) April 11, 2021
The fact that this call was the brainchild of a professor from Yale should come as a surprise to no one. This is precisely the type of woke activism that has infected and degraded the nation’s institutes of higher learning for several generations. But it does call into question the intellectual rigor of the people who are making it to the top of the corporate food chain these days. What Jeffrey Sonnenfield describes as “defiance” against the idea that businesses should stay out of politics is actually more of a case of market suicide that should have stockholders in all of these companies running for the hills. As soon as you turn off one-half of the political spectrum in this country, you’re going to see your sales plummet and your stock values drop. Home Depot still hasn’t fully recovered from its venture into woke territory over the gun control issue.
Should people be worried about what these CEOs plan to do? I would argue absolutely not for two practical reasons. First of all, their options are extremely limited and likely close to zero in number. They can run advertisements criticizing the state legislatures of states enacting voter integrity laws if they wish, but who is going to be listening to them that didn’t already agree with their position? They can’t stop people from shopping in their stores based on how they voted. I suppose they can cancel their sponsorships of events that draw tourists to these states, but that only going to hurt (and anger) everyone who lives there. For proof, look no further than the example of how quickly Stacey Abrams backpedaled away from the MLB boycott.
Beyond that, all they could really do is shut down their outlets in these states. Of course, shrinking your business and slashing your own revenue based on your political ideology isn’t going to make you very popular with your shareholders.
Still, I think everyone should encourage these companies to pack up and move out of the states where their CEOs disapprove of actions taken by the elected representatives of the citizens. This is actually a moment to welcome free-market capitalism and observe it in action. If these CEOs want to lash themselves to a political mast, they have every right to do so. Pull out of those states, by all means. Two things would immediately happen. First, they will slash their own bottom lines massively.
But far more importantly, we need to remember that just as in nature, the free market abhors a vacuum. The moment one of these operations closes its doors to “punish” the voters of any given state, either one of their less woke competitors will expand into that space, or a new business will arise to fill the void, presumably run by people who are more motivated by profits than politics. It’s one of the oldest and most unshakable rules of capitalism. Where demand exists, a supply will arrive to meet it.
The woke left has been engaged in cancel culture and boycotts for quite a while now. What these CEOs apparently fail to realize is the fact that those people don’t even represent anywhere near half of the country’s population. And if they push these buttons, a lot of the more conservative and moderate consumers may not be marching in the streets, but they’ll be voting with their wallets and taking their business elsewhere.