The Corner

Economy & Business

Polling: Corporations Should Stay out of Politics

Delta Airlines jets sit at a terminal at Reagan National Airport. August 19, 2004 (Larry Downing/Reuters)

After the passage of Georgia’s new voting law, woke capital didn’t hesitate to seize another opportunity to pander to the left. Delta Airlines, Coca-Cola, and Major League Baseball were all eager to remind the Democratic Party where their loyalties lie. Never mind the fact that the corporate statements decrying the legislation were snap judgements based on snap reports that ludicrously oversimplified a complex issue. What were they supposed to do? Not take sides in a political fight that has nothing to do with running their business?

Before jumping into the political mosh-pit that is Georgia’s election fight, all these companies should have asked themselves: “Wait, do people actually want us to be doing this?” That is the kind of question which occurs to responsible executives before they risk their business’ reputation in exchange for . . . nothing, as it turns out. In fact, it risked being less than nothing for Delta Air Lines, as the GOP-controlled Georgia House voted to strip tens of millions of dollars’ worth of tax-breaks from the airline. However, the state senate did not go along, declining to consider the matter before adjourning.

In any event, the answer to that question is: “No, people don’t want huge businesses involved in politics.” And we have the data to back it up. Last week, pollster Scott Rasmussen released a survey that has some worrying implications for corporate America, at least if it continues in its current direction.

According to the poll, 59 percent of Americans think companies taking political positions “adds to divisiveness.” Over half of self-identified Democrats agreed. Another related poll released by Mr. Rasmussen a day earlier found that 66 percent of Americans thought corporations should not be taking political positions. Again, that includes over half of Democrats.

In other words, no broad electoral coalition is asking for businesses to be fronts for activism. Not Republicans, not Democrats, not independents. If that conclusion wasn’t obvious enough already, there’s data to support it. Corporations are doing themselves no favors when they take stances on controversial, complicated, political issues.

And yet, woke capital forges on. Delta Air Lines’ attack on the Georgia voting law fits perfectly with the pattern. But the consequences of corporate politicking are no longer merely rhetorical. Delta’s thoughtless compliance with the progressive social agenda resulted in a Republican House making a serious effort to punish them directly. It shouldn’t be a shock that Republicans would start to legislate against woke capital as public opinion turns against it. This isn’t just empty political theatre, either; this is actual legislation that could carry actual consequences. And this is all for the sake of an ultimately pointless statement attacking a policy that Delta had no business getting involved with in the first place.

Alongside the predictably formulaic denunciations, Major League Baseball responded to the voting law with something more material: pulling its All-Star Game out of Atlanta. Whichever executive made that decision ought to be aware of how dependent the sports industry is on the good graces of local and state government — and they ought to be aware that Republicans have a legislative trifecta in 23 states, which is eight more than the Democrats. Just something to keep in mind as Republicans make their unhappiness with MLB all too clear .

Taking sides in a hotly contested political battle, the results of which have nothing to do with the company’s bottom line, is woke capital at its finest. That is precisely what the tide of public opinion, and increasingly public policy, is turning against. Those running the nation’s big businesses can listen to reason and stop bowing to the left, or they can ignore the warning signs and carry on with their current public-relations strategy, which seems to be something along the lines of “antagonize most of the country.” It’s hard to think that their shareholders will thank them for this.

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