Be Careful What You Wish For

There’s an old saying to the effect that karma is a bitch. A decade or more after Citizens United and Mitt Romney’s pious declaration that “corporations are people too,” we may be seeing an example.

My friend Mike Leppert has a weekly blog, and last week he considered the current state of corporate-GOP relations.He pointed to emerging policy differences between some of America’s largest corporations and the Republican Party that has for many years reflexively relied on their money and support.

Leppert–and a significant number of other pundits–focused on a statement made by Mitch McConnell in the wake of corporate criticisms of GOP efforts at vote suppression.  McConnell warned corporate America  “to stay out of politics.” He hastily added that he wasn’t  talking about political contributions. Those, evidently, should keep coming.

As Leppert noted,  it was tantamount to telling the business community to pay up and shut up.

On Wednesday, McConnell admitted he had not spoken “artfully” the day before, but continued to warn against “economic blackmail,” which is his description for the corporate responses in Georgia to its recently enacted voter suppression law.

It wasn’t all that long ago that local Chambers of Commerce were functionally an arm of the GOP.  Their interests were the same; as Leppert says,  both loved low taxes, small government, little to no regulation–“money-making stuff.” But demographics really can be destiny. Those white male Country Club Republicans can no longer count on running things.

There is less and less money in alienating black and brown people. Women and LGBT people generally don’t think much of voter suppression either. And all of these groups of Americans represent customers, talent, and yes, even investors in companies of which the GOP used to rely. The country club members just aren’t as enamored with where the Republican Party has been heading lately, and since I brought it up, country clubs aren’t as desirable as they used to be either.

Add to that observation the fact that the GOP has changed rather dramatically since the heyday of country-club Republicanism. It’s no longer a business-friendly interest group; it has devolved into a White Supremicist cult waging culture war. Whatever one’s differences with those bygone country club Republicans, a significant portion of them described themselves as “fiscally conservative but socially liberal,” and they have been horrified by the current iteration of the GOP. Tax cuts can only go so far in insuring partisan fidelity.

The disenchantment of Corporate America with the GOP may have been exacerbated by efforts in Georgia and Texas to suppress minority votes, but it has been building over time. In January, following the insurrection at the Capitol, the New York Times reported on a survey of corporate executives.

To better understand this moment it is worth considering the results of an informal poll of 40 top executives conducted by Jeffrey Sonnenfeld of the Yale School of Management. Mr. Sonnenfeld regularly gathers C.E.O.s to gauge their views on the most important issues facing their companies, and he did so virtually this week amid increasing alarm in the business community at what they witnessed in Washington. The results are revealing. Here’s a selection:

Did President Trump help incite last week’s violent attack on Congress?

Yes: 100 percent
No: 0 percent

Should President Trump be impeached and removed from office?

Yes: 96 percent
No: 4 percent

Was it right for the social network tech firms to block President Trump from their platforms?

Yes: 85 percent
No: 15 percent

Should business PACs and trade associations cut off donations to legislators who aided sedition?

Yes: 100 percent
No: 0 percent

Should business halt all political donations?

Yes: 42 percent
No: 58 percent

There was more, but these responses and several others should have served as a warning to McConnell and his ilk not to take the relationship between Republicans and Corporate America for granted.

The short-sighted folks who cheered the decision in Citizens United said they wanted free speech for business. Evidently, it didn’t occur to them that the interests of the business community and the Republican Party might diverge, and that those free speech rights might be exercised to express disapproval of the GOP.

Karma is a bitch.

Excuse me while I experience a bit of schadenfreude.


  1. Now lets hope that Corporate America will FINALLY stop funding the disinformation machine that propagated the big lie. Is that too much to hope for? Is there ANY sign that they are pulling back from supporting the lie machine? That would be as important as defunding the crazy politicians.

  2. Exactly what did that minority number of those who voted for Trump in 2016 or the 70 million plus minority who voted for him in 2020 hope for? We know that Corporate American did not make up even 1% of the voters so what did they hope to accomplish by voting for him? Corporate America and the wealthy got their wish for lower or no tax rate but lost consumers due to the ever widening economic levels of the majority of Americans. Smaller businesses driven out of business during the ongoing Pandemic which was aided by Trump’s ego and White Nationalism lost the buying power of employees of those now defunct businesses. There is no longer a Republican party to aid and abet their tax advantage; their choice is now between Donald Trump’s Republicans and keeping the current mute and idle Republicans in Congress. The government is now split between the two Republican factions and the Democratic party. The 2022 election is an open numbers game; it won’t matter who claims to be a Republican or what their campaign foundation is built on. In a three-way split will the majority require the most votes or 51% of the votes?

    “The disenchantment of Corporate America with the GOP may have been exacerbated by efforts in Georgia and Texas to suppress minority votes, but it has been building over time.”

    The time has come for decisions to be made; it appears at this time that the decision will rest on how Corporate America deals with that disenchantment and will the future of America depend on Georgia and Texas as voter suppression spreads or is stopped?

  3. The 1% cannot spend enough to fuel the economy, when business leaders trip over that fact, maybe they will realize they are riding the wrong pony….

  4. Sorry, Patmcc:

    “Should business halt all political donations?

    Yes: 42 percent
    No: 58 percent”


    The CEOs may have morals, but they place the highest value on money or profits. That conflict permeates our society from top to bottom. There is no disputing that Hitler was a great leader but he wasn’t a moral leader either.

    Coca Cola was one of the first companies to leave ALEC when it became known they were a contributor. They were scared they’d lose customers. Does anybody honestly believe they stopped donating to ALEC?

    Who runs the gambling in Indiana?

    The Irish and Italian mobs. Remember, the GOP quietly sold the lottery to the Italian mob but declared they wouldn’t take kickbacks anymore after they got caught. Does anybody believe the mob still isn’t given kickbacks to the politicians?

    This is why both parties created the 501(c)4’s and other methods to cleanse their money flowing from business and billionaires to the pols.

    Of course, Mitch knew the money would keep flowing, but publicly the CEOs have to take a stand for their customers. Has Chick-Fil-A taken a stand yet? LOL

    Maximize shareholder returns is the number one motive for a corporation doing business in the USA. As mentioned in the post, the best way for this to happen is to keep taxes, employee wages, and regulations low.

    It wasn’t hard for the CEOs to take a public stance but it did place pressure on Mitch and the GOP which is why he spoke up.

    Now, ask the same CEOs if they’ll put their money where their mouth is by stopping donations to the GOP. #crickets

    Morality and leadership must go together but capitalism prioritizes money/profits. This internal conflict is why Einstein called capitalism evil.

  5. I have not read anywhere that Indiana Farm Bureau has withdrawn support from Braun, Pence and others since the insurrectipn on January 6th.
    Have I missed that?

  6. Amid this faux corporate fallout from the GOP, Fox propaganda network (and the other extreme right wing propaganda networks) have surely ratcheted up their advertising requests to the big corporations because they all know that there is still a base of white supremacist, racist, nationalist voters that want their biases to continue to be confirmed.

  7. It’s all well and good that corporations say they won’t be giving money to the insurrectionists, but my guess is that they will find a way to divert cash to them in spite of their protestations. Meanwhile, back at the ranch, we see the Democratic Party being blocked by their own little insurrectionist, Senator Manchin. Democrats need to deliver change or 2022 will be the death knell of our little republic.

  8. Back during the 2016 primaries I read an article on the 1% and in essence the Country Club Group and their effects on elections via campaign contributions. The article pointed out some members of the 1% could be perceived as being “Liberal”. Liberal in sense of being Liberal or Progressive on social-cultural issues.

    The protection of their wealth and the acquisition of more wealth, united the 1%. The Koch Brothers among others took this to next logical step by writing legislation at a Federal and State Level and funding those elected officials willing to follow their Agenda.

    If these candidates had to be Social-Cultural Warriors to be elected, it was not disturbing to the 1%, as long as the 1% received what they wanted in terms of legislation. Even someone as toxic as The Trumpet could be a useful dupe, as long as he delivered, which he did.

    Will the fact that some large Mega-Corporations object to some part of the Reactionary GOP Political Philosophy have any effect at all?? Not really talk is cheap, it is all for Show.

    The 1% and the Mega-Corporations would rather have McConnell, Cruz, Lindsey Graham, Jim Jordan, Taylor-Greene as “Reliables” to front for their interests. These “Reliables” no matter how toxic they may be are preferable to a Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren or the Squad.

    So, do not get your hopes up that Wall Street, the 1% or the Country Club set are going to under go some moral metamorphosis.

  9. “Taxation, without representation, is tyranny.”

    Remember that Mitch? Speaking artfully would have taken that into account.

    When it was said it only expressed personal concerns. Since Citizens vs United corporations have become people. To them, political donations are a form of taxation.

    Do you know what they have discovered? That the most important stakeholders in their success are consumers and employees. Government is way down on the list. Real people not other corporate members of the country club.

    Republicans, like all institutions, choose their stakeholders too. I’m sure Billy Bob down at the shootin’ range will kick in a couple of bucks when he’s got ’em which is seldom.

  10. No offense, but I think some of the thinking on here is very outdated. Yes, big donations, particularly from corporate interests, used to fund the GOP machine. Note the past tense That’s no longer true. Many GOP candidates now are funded primarily by individual donations, people giving small amounts, but often several times during a cycle. Taking a stand against corporate interests draws attention, is popular with this crowd, and results in more donations. They’re not trying to blackmail corporations into giving more – rather it is that there is more money in the small donor contributions.

    The fact candidates don’t have to spend time at high end corporate fundraising events and can raise enough money, even more , from individuals on-line would seem to be a very positive development. But in order to raise big money from the individual contributions, elected officials have to draw attention to themselves, and that means taking the most extreme positions and spending as much time as they can on FoxNews, NewsMax, etc. rather than legislating or governing. That’s why fools like Repo. Marjorie Taylor Greene, Rep. Matt Gaetz, Rep. Jim Jordan and Sen. Josh Hawley are raking in so much money. It isn’t from corporate contributions.

    People on here are bemoaning the large corporate interests that donate to candidates. (I am baffled by people attacking the Koch brothers who are very anti-Trump, support criminal justice reform, and do not support insurrection and anti-democracy efforts. ) We are now learning that when candidates had to rely on that corporate money it actually had an effect of moderating their conduct and policies. Now many don’t need corporate money and being more outrageous means more money.

    As far as Citizens United, I think we’re going to see a day very soon when the decision benefits Democrats like the decision better than Republicans.

  11. Perhaps the coin of the realm has changed from money to power. Up until now in American history, obtaining power took money – lots of it. But with 73 million often poor deplorables voting for the Abominable Scam Man, maybe there’s a new source for what Republicans seem to crave most. Few knew that populism had such strong appeal, or that American democracy was so little respected, or that the rule of law was ignorable, or that racism could prove a ticket to success. But Trump, listening to Limbaugh and all of the most conservative Republicans since Reagan, saw that they were on to something he could ride to the White house. Very ugly, but an insight nonetheless.

    So perhaps the business community has lost its king-making ability to the least (the very least) among us. Voting as a bloc, they can unite their conspiracies, their prejudices, their hates and their ignorance to decide the occupant of 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. and the Senate. Without passing a single law, those bodies exercise an inordinate amount of power over the American people. They have recently shown that they can expedite the deaths of hundreds of thousands of citizens without incurring a penalty. Next, it seems probable, they will use their power to sell the glories of fascism to a country that, until 2020, would have called that sale “impossible.”

  12. I think it’s a big mistake to lump all of the 1% together into some kind of “money first club” all in lock step marching to only one idea of what is best. Some in that exclusive club apparently see and understand that to destroy democracy is to kill the goose that laid the golden egg.

  13. This is the party built on Richard Nixon’s southern strategy and the aggregation of the most uneducated and reactionary members of American society. It will never be the country club set again. That ship has sailed.

  14. I only hope that the CEO crowd acts on their new dismay with the GOP.
    Schadenfreude? I’ll drink to that!
    Okay, it was only tea, but what the heck, it’s only mid-afternoon!

  15. In going with Paul’s line of thinking, there are only around a dozen congressional members who get more than 50% of their donations from individual donors. And yes, they get to be more independent in their thinking and words – think AOC and Bernie Sanders.

    Matt Gaetz and Jim Jordon are up there as well.

    The question is since we know what kind of freedom independence from the party brings Democrats, what does independence bring for a Republican?

    If anything, the popularity would land you on Fox News more. Or, did Fox News make them more popular?

    Whatever freedom or latitude it brings for Jordan and Gaetz, it sure doesn’t alter what they do for the oligarchs running this country whether the country club set, the military-industrial complex, or financial oligarchy. They’re oligarchic shills by their inaction. They could collect 100% of donations from individuals and it would be meaningless to the oligarchy.

  16. Sheila —
    I’m Schadenfreuding right along with you. Any ideas for a good wine pairing?

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