INDIANAPOLIS – Corporate giants Coca-Cola and Delta Airlines have driven Republicans crazy in Georgia and elsewhere.
Coke and Delta did this by speaking out against Georgia’s restrictive new electoral law, drawn up by the GOP as an exercise to suppress voters. Among other things, this new law makes it a crime to bring food or water to people, no matter how old or ill they are in long voting.
The Republican power structure has responded with the anger of a confused lover who is shocked – shocked – to find out what they believed to be a marriage of true love was instead a pairing of ease.
A union that could be thrown out when it was no longer useful.
Governor Brian Kemp and his fellow Georgia compatriots have threatened to end the tax breaks offered by the state of Coke and Delta in order to keep the Atlanta-based businesses. US Senator Marco Rubio, R-Florida, and other GOP officials have made it their business to deliver largely incoherent abuse of the “hypocrisy” of “awakened capitalism”.
It turns out that there is an anger worse than that of a despised woman.
It belongs to politicians who discover how the world works late in life.
One such possibility revolves around this fundamental truth: there are no companies to keep the Republican Party’s commandments. Businesses exist to make money. Those who don’t make money stop being businesses.
Most companies – including Cola and Delta – cannot make money and stay in business just selling their products and services to Republicans. They need to be able to sell to increasingly diverse markets if they are to make it.
Big business loyalty to the GOP or any other political party only extends to the cash register. Once Republican politics starts costing companies money, the GOP becomes a luxury that companies can no longer afford.
Republicans can be forgiven for having an exclusive relationship.
A few years ago, an Indiana Republican lawmaker told me about meetings between the Chamber of Commerce lobbyists and the GOP caucus.
“The words change from time to time,” the Republican legislature told me. “But the message is always the same: We have you.”
Knowledgeable observers understand that property was, is, and was a purpose of expediency rather than undying loyalty.
We saw evidence of this here in Indiana.
When the Hoosier Republicans decided to bid socially conservative and enforce an ill-named and even more dire measure called the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA), the state’s largest employers merged and broke with the GOP.
RFRA – which would allow Hoosiers to discriminate against LGBTQ citizens on religious grounds – would likely drive both investors and talent out of the state. Smart business people couldn’t stand this because, in turn, they want to be able to sell their goods and services to as many people as possible.
The sexual orientations of their customers do not matter. Whether their checks are clear.
The GOP came to a similar misunderstanding in Georgia.
The Republicans there are rightly concerned that the demographics are running against their party and they want to curtail the right to vote in an attempt to hold back the tide. However, this runs counter to the interests of Coke and Delta, who want to sell soft drinks and airline flights to as many people as possible.
The confused GOP leaders can accomplish anything they want, but that is unlikely to change. Kemp’s threats to take tax breaks from the company are empty and the chiefs in American companies know it. The politicians who are chasing away big employers are buying early and unplanned retirement from office.
The same is true of Rubio’s statements about “lively capitalism” and “hypocrisy”. His uproar over the evil of companies doing business with China only underscores the point. These companies do business with China because there is money to be made there.
The CEOs don’t do what they do in Georgia because they “woke up”.
They do it because they are capitalists.
Expecting companies to put the GOP’s interests before their own is like expecting a fish to ride a bicycle.
Fish don’t do that.
And business people do what they do.
John Krull is the director of the Pulliam School of Journalism at Franklin College and the editor of TheStatehouseFile.com, a news website operated by Franklin College journalists.