Politics & Policy

Corporate America’s Empty Virtue Signaling

Voters cast their ballots at a Fulton County polling station in Atlanta, Ga., October 13, 2020. (Elijah Nouvelage/Reuters)

Critics of the Georgia elections law have gotten far out over their skis. The Washington Post fact-checker awarded Joe Biden “Four Pinocchios” for lying about the bill, then labeled him a “recidivist” when he kept repeating the lie. Senator Raphael Warnock admitted to Fox News that he had put his name to an email for a liberal nonprofit lying about a provision that was not in the final bill. The White House and Georgia Democrats have both been scurrying away from responsibility for Major League Baseball’s pulling the All-Star Game out of Atlanta, after Biden openly encouraged it.

A major gathering on Saturday of management from over a hundred businesses, many of them enormous corporations, reportedly discussed imposing collective sanctions on Georgia — a plan that might at least skirt the edge of the antitrust laws and would represent a dramatic escalation of anti-democratic corporate bullying of self-governing states. But the statement released by the group Wednesday morning, to run as a newspaper advertisement, was underwhelming. Its tepid contents suggest that some of its signatories may have thought twice about engaging in bare-knuckles partisan side-taking on the basis of false information. Some very big corporate names appear, including Google, Facebook, Twitter, Amazon, Netflix, Microsoft, Starbucks, Apple, ViacomCBS, PayPal, American Express, Ford Motors, General Motors, American Airlines, JetBlue, Goldman Sachs, McKinsey, and Merck. But Georgia-based behemoths Coca-Cola and Delta Air Lines are noticeable by their absence.

The statement itself is so generic, we doubt that any Georgia Republican who supported the bill would have trouble signing it themselves. “For American democracy to work, we must ensure the right to vote for all of us . . . the very foundation of our electoral process rests upon the ability of each of us to cast our ballots for the candidates of our choice. . . . We should all feel a responsibility to defend the right to vote and to oppose any discriminatory legislation or measures that restrict or prevent any eligible voter from having an equal and fair opportunity to cast a ballot.” Who would disagree with any of that? Indeed, a major point of the Georgia law was to make the state’s voting procedures more uniform across its 159 counties and prevent voters from having their ballots rejected by a subjective signature-matching process.

Perhaps duly chastened by the repeated failure of critics to accurately describe the contents of the Georgia law, the statement says nothing at all about any particular rule, nor does it even mention Georgia. It is simply empty virtue signaling. Which is better than the alternative, but it illustrates how badly the campaign against the law has misfired.

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