Did anyone else feel a shift last week in the relationship between corporations and Republicans?
I sure did.
Activists both in Georgia and around the country have been putting a lot of pressure on companies with their headquarters in the state to make their stance on voting rights clear. The pressure, and let’s be honest, the dollars and sense of making a statement are pretty strong.
The most high profile consequence of the Georgia bill passing so far has been Major League Baseball pulling their All-Star Game out of Georgia and moving it to Colorado. Then Mitch McConnell threatened corporations to “stay out of politics,” a statement he swiftly stepped back from, after what I can only assume was a barrage of angry phone calls from donors.
But with restrictive voting bills being proposed in 47 states, it’s obviously not just going to be businesses based in Georgia that are going to have to deal with this matter. Activists are already pressuring companies in Texas, Arizona, and elsewhere as voter suppression bills move through those state legislatures.
And then this weekend, a big news story dropped. On Saturday night, over 90 CEOs of major corporations and businesses held a virtual meeting to discuss the onslaught of restrictive voting bills and how they should approach it. A Yale professor who was in attendance said, “The gathering was an enthusiastic voluntary statement of defiance against threats of reprisals for exercising their patriotic voices.”
Interestingly, he added, “Not only are they fortifying each other, but they see that this spreading of disease of voter restrictions from Georgia to up to possibly 46 other states is based on a false premise and it’s anti-democratic.”
Axios reported that they discussed “possibly stopping donations to politicians who support bills curbing voter access and postponing investments in states that approve the controversial measures.”
The Wall Street Journal reported that the group might be making a public statement later this week “condemning voter discrimination and calling for greater voter access.”
Companies that were represented include: Starbucks, Linkedin, Levi Strauss. ViacomCBS, Merck, NFL’s Atlanta Falcons. AMC Theatres, law firm Paul, Weiss, Ariel Investments, Walmart, United Airlines, American Airlines, and Boston Consulting Group. (List found at both Axios & CBS.)
So where does that leave us?
If you buy any products or use any services from the companies listed, now would be a great time to call them (or email them) to express your desire, as a customer, that they throw their weight behind making our democracy stronger. And that means making sure EVERY eligible voter has the freedom to vote. A simple Google search of “[company] contact headquarters” should give you a way to reach them.
If a bunch of big, important corporations start to punish legislators, at both the federal and state level, for being anti-democratic, that would be HUGE. Not just for what that means, but also for how it could affect public opinion broadly. And a shift in public opinion on the topic of voting rights would give us more ability to press for the passage of the For The People Act (HR1/S1).
So let’s make this happen!
If you didn’t see it, I posted last week about what’s it been like to start an account on TikTok to talk about voting rights and activism (and have some fun.) If you’re on that platform, give me a follow!