In the last month, Disney slapped an offensive content warning on “The Muppet Show,” Coca-Cola urged its workers to “be less white” as part of its diversity training, Hasbro rebranded Mr. Potato Head as gender neutral, Dr. Seuss Enterprises stopped publishing of six his books for “racist and insensitive imagry,” and Amazon halted online sales of a conservative book on transgender issues it had marketed for about three years.
So-called woke capitalism isn’t slowing down — it’s accelerating at a pace few could have predicted after last summer’s Black Lives Matter movement, when many corporations dove head-first into marketing and posturing for the progressive cause.
Yet, there are signs of an upcoming backlash — that those sitting in the C-suite of Fortune 500 firms should pay attention to.
In this year’s annual Gallup poll, satisfaction with the “size and influence of major corporations” fell 15% to a mere 25%. The plummet didn’t come among Democrats, but among Republicans — who have long been supporters of deregulation and lower taxes — policies corporate America usually favors.
In 2020, 57% of Republicans said they were satisfied with big business, today it’s only 31%.
It seems corporate America has finally crossed the line diving into the culture wars.
Much of what has been done is frivolous — like Nabisco filling its Oreo cookie cream with the colors of the LGBTQ Pride flag — it’s merely a short-term PR stunt meant to curry favor with Democrats. Yet, some of what has been done is nefarious — like Facebook, Twitter and Amazon using their corporate power to de-platform conservatives — actions that will have seismic political repercussions.
As Kimberley Strassel in The Wall Street Journal points out: The GOP’s reflexive support of big business is at an end, and it will have far-reaching consequences for upcoming policy battles.
Republicans may be the minority party in Congress, no longer occupy the White House and the mainstream media may deem it fractured, but corporate cancel culture is giving the GOP something to rally and unify behind.
Gone are the days of Republicans relying on the free-market to work things out. We have learned you can’t just build your own search engine, social media platform and smart phone operating systems. Parler tried to become a conservative alternative to Twitter, before it was kicked off its web service by Amazon and removed from the app store by Google and Apple.
That’s why so many Republicans are backing moves to repeal or reform Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act so the government can better regulate Big Tech. Others within the GOP are looking into antitrust laws as a means to break up the Silicon Valley behemoths.
It’s clear Republicans are warming up to the idea of increasing regulation on big business — and that should worry those making “woke” decisions in the C-suite.
Whether its Tim Cook at Apple, Mark Zuckerberg at Facebook, Jack Dorsey at Twitter or Jeff Bezos at Amazon, all wake up in the morning and ask themselves how they can make money with the least government interference.
They give head-nods to progressive causes and slap conservatives with “misinformation” disclaimers in hopes Democrats will look the other way when it comes to increased taxation and regulation. So far, it’s worked.
Yet, these moves are inciting Republicans — which under the guidance of former President Trump have become more populist and representative of blue-collar Americans. It’s showing them all institutions within the U.S. — corporate, intellectual and cultural — are working against their core beliefs and traditions.
It’s turning the Republican Party — which once proudly associated itself as champions of corporate America — into warriors against it. And once their power returns — and it will — big business will be in for a rude awakening.
• Kelly Sadler is commentary editor at The Washington Times.
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