Billionaire founder of LinkedIn, Reid Hoffman, has some hot takes on voting law legislation. Hoffman calls for business leaders to halt political contributions to politicians who vote in favor of election law reforms. He, like other liberal activists, describes the reforms as limiting the rights of American citizens to vote. I also have some opinions on election law reforms. So, I canceled my LinkedIn membership.
Leftists continue to refer to the Georgia law recently signed by Governor Kemp as Jim Crow 2.0. Have none of them cracked a history book? Jim Crow laws legalized racial segregation. When actual Jim Crow laws were in effect, Democrats were in control of politics in the south. It is political laziness to refer to election law reforms that clarify voting policies as racist. The laziest of all are those who toss out the charge of racism about the new Georgia legislation without bothering to name any specific part of the legislation that is restricting the rights of voters. That’s because there is none. They know it but they are gaslighting Americans for political gain. They seek to divide Americans, not unite them.
In the case of Mr. Hoffman, he signed on to the two-page ad purchased in the New York Times and the Washington Post I wrote about just last week. Hundreds of companies and individuals did so. Some companies are already experiencing the consequences of their political divisiveness, like Coca-Cola, who now wish to make nice with all of their consumers, not just appease the far left that wants to drive a wedge between American voters. He is making his comments public so this makes him a target for criticism.
“Protecting voter rights and making voting more accessible is both pro-business, and more importantly, pro-American,” Hoffman told CNN Business in an email.
The billionaire investor hopes companies will withhold economic support from politicians who seek to limit the right of any American citizen to vote.
“This should be a simple, single-issue reason to stop supporting any politician,” said Hoffman, who was LinkedIn’s founding CEO.
Hoffman also urged business leaders to give employees paid time off vote and actively encourage employees and customers to vote, including by holding get-out-the-vote drives.
If he wants to give his employees paid time off to vote, that is his prerogative. Hoffman was a participant in a Zoom call with “dozens” of other business executives recently where they brainstormed to fight the voting law legislation in Georgia and the legislation being considered in dozens of other states.
Organizers said executives expressed strong support during the meeting for re-evaluating campaign donations to candidates who back voter restrictions and reconsidering investments in states that enact such legislation.
The business leaders would like to federalize elections. Democrats love to call for federal commissions but little usually comes from them.
Bank of America (BAC) CEO Brian Moynihan last week called for a bipartisan federal commission to investigate restrictive voting legislation.
“The right to vote should be distributed in the broadest sense and anything that goes against that shouldn’t be tolerated,” Moynihan told CNN’s Poppy Harlow.
Hoffman’s take is that businesses will reap rewards from thankful customers who wish to reward them for political activism. He calls supporters of clarity and election law integrity the “loud few”. He isn’t worried about boycotts proposed by opponents. Perhaps he’d better speak to the CEO of Coca-Cola who is trying to get out of the mess he created for his corporation.
Asked for his reaction to the efforts by Trump and McConnell, Hoffman said: “I think it’s anti-American for any politician to attempt to silence other Americans from expressing their political views — which is guaranteed by the First Amendment.”
Hoffman added that while some “loud few” may propose boycotts, “I believe what we will see is many, many Americans will decide that they prefer doing their business with companies that support voting rights, clearly and unequivocally.”
In other words, it’s ok to be among the loud people if it is favorable to his opinions. The majority of Americans support voter id laws, for example, including black voters. Does his loud voice, in the minority on this issue, count for more than those who support voter id laws? The MLB pulled out of Georgia for the All-Star game, yet the Masters golf tournament did not. What about employees who agree with the new law? This is more than corporate wokeness – this is corporations trying to make policy. They are trying to do the job of lawmakers.
I’m old enough to remember when Mitt Romney was slammed by Barack Obama and other Democrats for saying that “Corporations are people.”
“Corporations!” a protester shouted, apparently urging Romney to raise taxes on corporations that have benefited from loopholes in the tax code. “Corporations!”
“Corporations are people, my friend,” Romney said.
Some people in the front of the audience shouted, “No, they’re not!”
“Of course they are,” Romney said. “Everything corporations earn ultimately goes to people. Where do you think it goes?”
That was in 2011, this is 2021. Now Hoffman says business leaders have to speak out on political issues like voter disenfranchisement or “risk backlash”.
But Hoffman, the LinkedIn co-founder, argued that business leaders who don’t speak out against efforts to disenfranchise voters “risk backlash” from the majority of Americans who believe the right to vote is the most fundamental element of a functioning democracy.
“I believe that companies who show a strong support for American values and the right to vote for all citizens may gain more business and elevated brand value,” Hoffman said.
And he argued business leaders need to go beyond a simple calculation of their bottom lines.
“Companies aren’t just profit-and-loss machines,” Hoffman said. “While I actually think it’s good business and pro-business for corporations to speak out in favor of protecting voter rights, it’s ultimately just the right thing to do.”
Companies are profit and loss machines, Mr. Hoffman, as you well know. Romney was right in 2011 – corporate earnings go to the people. There is no company coming out in favor of restricting voting rights. That’s a strawman argument to cow companies into speaking out or risk bullying from the likes of Hoffman. Many companies state obvious support of voting rights yet don’t feel the need to jump into politics. It doesn’t make sense to do so. Why risk alienating customers?
“If we come out in one way, then we tick off the customer base,” Citizens Bank CEO Bruce Van Saun told CNN Business. “There are certain minefields where it’s better not to weigh in.”
Citizens Bank, which has the naming rights on the home ballpark of the Philadelphia Phillies, decided not to sign the statement endorsed last week by Bank of America, Amazon, General Motors, Starbucks and hundreds of other companies.
“Obviously, folks should have access to voting, but there also should be controls to ensure there is integrity to voting,” Van Saun said. “We’re not going to get drawn into every single political issue of the day. There’s not a lot of upside to that.”
He’s right. Leftists make the false assumption that everyone thinks as they do. Most people, however, don’t want politics mixed into retail purchases or services. There is more to be gained by customers who aren’t smacked with corporate political hot takes than by customers who are angered by liberal politics. They will walk away. That’s exactly what I did today when I canceled my membership with LinkedIn.