Extremism harms commerce, says David Pepper 2023

In “Frozen,” Olaf observed, “Some people are worth melting for.”

Extremist politicians are not, as Disney learned. That’s a lesson for corporate America.

Disney contributed to Florida politicians’ campaigns like many other firms. Many firms rely on those ties, for better or ill. In the past, yes.

In recent years, these statehouses’ “standard operating procedure” has become anything but conventional. Florida’s “Don’t Say Gay” statute was passed by Disney-backed politicians.

Disney denounced the measure and ceased its political contributions after employees and consumers spoke out. After lawmakers penalized Disney, Disney had to strike back.

Disney’s error? America’s statehouses were missed by the firm.

Gerrymandering, uncontested elections, and the disappearance of local journalism have transformed these institutions into unaccountable extremes, as I explain in “Laboratories of Autocracy” and “Saving Democracy: A User’s Manual.”

In session after session, hundreds of legislatures erode democratic rights and values. Thus, businesses’ donations to these decaying state legislatures undermine democracy.

Disney learned that will come back to haunt them. When firms with a large consumer or employee base support politicians who target their constituency, they subsidize assaults on their own workers and customers.

The radicals they empowered will assault firms that try to reverse course.

Professional and trade associations including state Chambers of Commerce, Farm Bureaus, realtor and accountant associations, and others still give to political campaigns.

In Ohio, an anti-choice congressman introduced a bill that would require doctors to undertake a medically impossible procedure to “fix” hazardous ectopic pregnancies. He was supported by the Ohio State Medical Association.

This assistance, like Disney’s, backfires.

Ohio firms including Procter & Gamble and Kroger stated they would fly employees to other states for abortion treatment after the Supreme Court decimated Roe. The Ohio Chamber of Commerce spent millions electing the candidates that enshrined Ohio’s abortion prohibition, including these two prominent members.

Many Ohio companies say it’s challenging to locate educated people who want to reside there. Are they curious?

A healthy democracy is beneficial for business, but a perverted democracy is bad for business. How can we convince corporations and business organizations to avoid autocracy?

It all starts with you in American politics. Daily choices are made. We can finance dictatorship and extremism or democracy.

If a business you frequent supports radicals, stop going there and tell them why. The Disney example illustrates how strong that incentive can be when employed collectively.

If you’re in a professional organization, make sure its members discuss their positions.

No more backing anti-democracy fanatics must become the norm. Make it apparent that consumers, employees, and constituents are watching, responding, and spending appropriately.

Hi, I’m Sanjh

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