Extremism is a corporate liability: David Pepper 2023

Olaf, the snowman from “Frozen,” observed, “Some people are worth melting for.”

Disney discovered extreme politicians are not. Corporate America must learn that.

Disney donated to Florida politicians like many other firms. Many firms rely on those ties, for better or ill. They used to.

These statehouses’ “standard operating procedure” has changed recently. Disney sponsored extreme lawmakers like Florida’s “Don’t Say Gay” statute.

Disney challenged the law and stopped political contributions after workers and consumers spoke out. Disney retaliated after legislators penalized it.

Disney’s mistake? The corporation missed America’s statehouses’ transformation.

“Laboratories of Autocracy” and “Saving Democracy: A User’s Manual” show how gerrymandering, uncontested elections, and the erosion of local journalism have converted these institutions into unaccountable extremes.

Dozens of legislatures across undermine democratic rights and values in session after session. Companies who donate to these decaying state legislatures undermine democracy.

Disney learnt that it will come back to haunt them. Companies having a large customer or employee base fund assaults on their workers and customers by supporting politicians that target their constituents.

Businesses who backtrack will be assaulted by radicals they empowered.

State Chambers of Commerce, Farm Bureaus, realtor and accountant associations, and others still donate to political campaigns.

One staunchly anti-choice member in my home state of Ohio sponsored a measure to require doctors to undergo a physically impossible procedure to “fix” hazardous ectopic pregnancies. Ohio State Medical Association supports him.

Like Disney, this support backfires.

After the Supreme Court overturned Roe, Ohio firms including Procter & Gamble and Kroger said they would fly employees to other states for abortions. These two prominent Ohio Chamber of Commerce members spent millions electing candidates that secured Ohio’s abortion prohibition.

Ohio firms say it’s challenging to locate educated people who want to reside there. How come?

These are simply a few examples of a larger truth: a healthy democracy benefits business, whereas a perverted democracy hurts it. How can we convince corporations of all sizes that investing in dictatorship is bad?

You start everything in American politics. Daily, we choose. Our cash may support democracy or authoritarianism and extremism.

Leave a firm that supports radicals and tell them why. If this seems quaint, the Disney example illustrates how effective that incentive can be when employed collectively.

Be sure your professional group hears from its members about their positions.

No more anti-democracy zealots. Show that consumers, employees, and constituents are watching, acting, and spending.

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About the Author: Sanjh Vishwakarma

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