When major corporations doing business in Georgia decided they didn’t want to take a position on the state’s voter suppression law, we all threatened to boycott them. Days later, those corporations – including Coca-Cola, Delta, and Major League Baseball – all quickly bent to our will and came out strongly against the voter suppression law.
When Trumpists then turned around and threatened to boycott these same companies, they shrugged the Trumpists off. This is crucial, because it tells us that we can use economic and social pressure to force these companies to side with us, while the Trumpists can’t. We must talk about why this is the case.
When it comes down to it, these mega-corporations only really care about two things: profits and reputation. So any decisions they make on activism are going to be put through a filter of how it’ll impact their profits and reputation, accordingly. And that filter led them to conclude that they were best off siding with us. But why?
For one thing, these mega-corporations know darn well that mainstream America is a heck of a lot bigger than Trump’s base. We had to endure four years of the media (on the left and right) obsessively pretending that only Trump’s base existed, and that the rest of us were irrelevant. But the reality is that we outnumber Trump’s base, by a lot. Accordingly, we have far more purchasing power than Trump’s base. So if mega-corporations are forced to alienate one side or the other, they’re going to choose to alienate Trump’s base.
This is before getting to reputational considerations. The political media spent four years trying to normalize Trump’s base, despite their extremist, racist, and violent tendencies. But the Capitol attack finally made them the pariahs that they should have been from day one. If mega-corporations have to pick a side right now, it’s not good for their reputation to be seen as aligning themselves with the insurrectionist side.
This tells us that, with certain exceptions such as corporations whose target market is primarily in the conservative gutter to begin with or whose CEOs are extremist lunatics, we can pressure corporate America into taking our side against the Republicans and Trumpists whenever we decide to push them hard enough. We know how to boycott and stir up controversy for them, and they know it, and they fear us. We simply need to use this power in a smart, savvy, and targeted manner, and we can use it as a weapon against the right wing bottom feeders who oppose the basic tenets of our democracy.
Bill Palmer is the publisher of the political news outlet Palmer Report