Businesses See Green–Not Red and Blue–in Fight Over Voter Rights
Sen. Mitch McConnell has had better weeks. While he is usually being credited for masterfully manipulating some combination of Senate rules, the Constitution and his own party, this week he found himself on the defensive as he called corporations “stupid” for weighing in on thorny political issues, saying the political realm is not a place for businesses and CEOs.
The hypocrisy is obvious seeing as Sen. McConnell was cheerleader in chief for the Citizens United decision that opened the door for outsize political influence from business in the form of unlimited political contributions. When reminded of this, Sen. McConnell made matters worse by saying the quiet part aloud–essentially that businesses should shut up unless they are giving him money.
While the press rightly had a field day with Sen. McConnell’s absurd comments, the bigger point about prudent business decisions was lost. Sen. McConnell argued that America is a divided nation in which Republicans also drink soda, fly on planes and watch baseball, and when companies like Coca-Cola, Delta, and Major League Baseball take stances on divisive political issues they alienate roughly half of their customer base. Sen. McConnell is under the illusion that half the country supports his unpopular positions because half of the Senate does–or worse, because wealthy donors and special interests do.
Recall in 2017 when Sen. McConnell joined forces with then House Speaker Paul Ryan and President Trump to pass the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act that, at the time of passage, found just 33 percent in support. Sen. McConnell was so convinced that this would be popular among the public that he offered, “if we can’t sell this to the American people, we ought to go into another line of work.” The number stood at 36 percent two years later. But when your idea of “the American people” is your wealthy donors and corporations, not the general public, then one-third of the public may seem like half or a majority.
Conversely, when President Biden signed the American Rescue Plan into law in early March, 75 percent of voters were in favor of the bill. After the president rolled out the American Jobs Plan last week, Data for Progress found that 73 percent of likely voters support the plan, and it is even more popular when taxes on corporations are included than when they are not. This should come as no surprise as 67 percent of registered voters support a wealth tax according to a Hill-HarrisX poll from last year. Even 65 percent of Americans support tougher gun laws despite a decline in the number over the last two years of increased rancor in Washington.
Perhaps the most comprehensive study on the united state of America is from the Carr Center for Human Rights at Harvard Kennedy School that revealed that even on proverbial “hot-button” issues like LGBTQ+ rights and protecting a woman’s right to choose, more than 70 percent of Americans agree over the essential nature of these protections.
When 61 percent of Americans think the NFL owes Colin Kaepernick an apology and 67 percent of Americans support H.R.1 For the People Act making it easier to vote, where to hold your all-star game becomes less of a red or blue issue and one that is entirely consistent with being motivated by green. These same majorities that support a progressive agenda from taxes to economic and social justice to protecting the climate make up the consumers and employees of businesses across the country. And at a deeper level, these businesses recognize that if democracy fails, their businesses do too.
Sen. McConnell may be able to teach a masterclass on politics, but it might be he who stands to learn a thing or two about business. While the electoral college, gerrymandering, arcane Senate rules and a conservative Supreme Court may give the illusion of a divided nation in Washington, America is saying something different. Businesses are listening and responding. Sen. McConnell should try it sometime himself.