The party that once coddled corporations is now punishing them for supporting climate-change mitigation, LGBTQ rights, gun reform, abortion rights and more. Much as they like to pander to the anti-“woke” extremists in their base, Republican office holders should consider that corporations today, just like those in the heyday of country-club-Republicanism, tend to reflect mainstream society — if only because doing otherwise could hurt their bottom lines. It’s the Republican Party, not the companies, that are out of step with America on these issues.
The most obvious example of the ironic rift between the GOP and corporate leaders is Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis’ attack on Disney. After the iconic company criticized DeSantis-backed legislation that attempts to silence discussion of LGBTQ issues in classrooms, DeSantis led a charge to reverse the longstanding self-governing provisions in state law that benefitted Disney World.
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DeSantis, who is likely running for president, has already hurt his state with this showboat showdown against Mickey Mouse. Disney has postponed a planned move of thousands of its California employees to Florida, a development many are attributing to the DeSantis fight. But no matter — kneecapping a major employer of his state and, consequently, hurting the state’s economy is the cost of pandering to the base.
Reuters reports that such politically motivated attacks on corporations are coming far more frequently in state legislatures, with the vast majority undertaken by Republicans rather than Democrats. (More irony, considering the age-old knock that Democrats are “anti-business.”) The news service has tracked at least 44 legislative bills or new laws in 17 red states, in addition to executive orders from governors and other leaders, that penalize companies for making business decisions that the Republican base doesn’t like.
The penalty of choice is for states to pull their business from companies that show too much of a social conscience. Texas has taken that strategy to punish JPMorgan Chase & Co. and other banks that have, for very rational reasons, begun limiting their business ties to companies involved in fossil fuel extraction or firearms manufacture.
It’s unlikely to stop there. With the overturn of Roe v. Wade, some companies are creating policies to help female employees in anti-choice states travel to pro-choice states for abortion services — a reasonable employer health care offering at a time when keeping employees happy is a hedge against staffing shortages. Yet one Texas lawmaker is already trying to outlaw such policies, telling Reuters, “No corporation doing business in Texas will be allowed to subsidize … abortion travel in any manner.”
Republicans once believed that free enterprise, unhindered by government, will ultimately do what’s right for society, simply because it’s in its own financial interest to do so. Corporations haven’t changed in that respect. What has changed is a party that today believes in nothing but the consolidation of power by pandering to the extremists.