Following last week’s white supremacist insurrection at the U.S. Capitol building, some of America’s biggest companies are rushing to change donation guidelines for their political action committees. In many cases, powerful corporations are vowing to end donations to congresspeople who voted against certifying the presidential election last week, while some are pausing all donations to review their political giving altogether.
According to The Washington Post, companies such as AT&T, Marriott, Blue Cross Blue Shield, and American Express have stated they will suspend or end donations to the 147 Republicans who voted against certifying Joe Biden’s presidential win. Other companies including Facebook, Google, Microsoft, Goldman Sachs, JPMorgan Chase, Comcast, and BlackRock (jesus christ, that lineup) have all suspended their political donations while they ponder their role in all of this.
Hallmark Cards — Hallmark Cards — has gone further, demanding that Missouri Sen. Josh Hawley and Kansas Sen. Roger Marshall return the $7,000 and $5,000 that Hallmark gave to their respective campaigns over the past two years. Thank god that the manufacturer of my last-minute grocery store birthday card purchases is standing up for democracy and reevaluating their $12,000 political contribution.
All of these companies’ statements about their decisions to Do The Right Thing sound roughly the same, tsk tsk-ing about the bad things that happened at the Capitol and lawmakers who stand in between them and a functioning democracy (which, in the case of these companies, is a democracy that takes their money and does stuff that benefits them, not one that takes their money and does stuff that benefits them but also fosters and leads a white supremacist government takeover). Hallmark’s statement sums it all up nicely. From The Post:
“Hallmark believes the peaceful transition of power is part of the bedrock of our democratic system, and we abhor violence of any kind,” JiaoJiao Shen, a Hallmark public relations official, said in a statement Monday. “The recent actions of Senators Josh Hawley and Roger Marshall do not reflect our company’s values.”
Think of it like all the companies who put out social media statements of white text on black backgrounds in response to the nationwide uprising against police brutality last summer, but this time involving money. It’s not much better, but it looks like it’s better, because employee-funded PAC money is just one of the many ways that corporations beleaguer compliant politicians into supporting and passing policies that benefit them, and it seems like a good thing that places like Comcast and Chase Bank are like, hmm, perhaps we have gone a stretch too far.
But while these moves seem praise-worthy — finally, Facebook is taking a stand in defense of Democracy — I cannot help but ask myself, who is any of this really for? Do Goldman Sachs and BlackRock actually give a shit about white supremacists storming the Capitol or do they just care that they might look bad for perhaps having had a financial hand in propping these politicians up? Do they actually give a shit about the undue influence that corporations such as themselves have on American politics, or are they just worried about looking worse than they do on a regular basis?
And, as with the many other entities and people who have stood by President Donald Trump, was there really nothing over the past six years that disgusted these corporations more than watching a bloodthirsty mob threaten the lives of the people who they pay to work in their favor? Nothing else leading up to this moment has mattered enough to be worthy of reevaluating these companies’ political contributions, so even given this Avengers: Endgame-esque corporate showdown, I have my doubts that this is much more than lip service. From The Post again, on why these changes may be nominal at best:
But the funds that these politicians might miss out on could be comparatively small compared to their overall haul, said Sheila Krumholz, executive director at the Center for Responsible Politics.
It also appeared possible that even companies that pledged to halt donations to certain Republican politicians could still donate to Republican-controlled outside groups known as super PACs or industry-related PACs, which might direct funds to any politicians it chooses, Krumholz said.
“The vast majority of these guys will be back at the table,” said a former White House official who departed last year and was granted anonymity to speak candidly. “When they see policies that threaten their business, they’ll have to be.”
Anyway, nice grand gesture. As always, I will believe it when I see it.