Lewis Morris / September 10, 2019

Businesses Are Becoming Entirely Too Political

The “woke” business model of catering to every leftist whim is going to turn out badly.

Walmart’s recent decision to stop selling ammunition for handguns and some rifles is the latest example of a shifting corporate culture in which American companies are inserting themselves into political and social issues. This is an increasingly common occurrence that is further harming our public discourse.

Companies do have a responsibility to produce and sell safe products. They also must respond to pubic demand, particularly if they want consumers to buy their products and services. In recent years, however, corporations, led by “woke” CEOs or left-of-center shareholder activists, have been wading into the political fray.

Companies used to stay out of political discourse as a matter of policy. Now, companies that try to stay silent on controversial issues can also face the wrath of the Left. Those that want to avoid embarrassing press coverage, boycotts, and picket lines often overcompensate to please what is ultimately a minority of citizens.

For instance, it wasn’t enough for Walmart to stop selling ammunition (once current inventory is exhausted, of course). Company CEO Doug McMillon also took the opportunity to “encourage our nation’s leaders to move forward and strengthen background checks and to remove weapons from those who have been determined to pose an imminent danger.” Imagine a country where we take our guidance on Second Amendment issues from our largest consumer retailer.

Walmart’s reliance on cheap Chinese products has driven many smaller retailers out of business over the years. It keeps a vast number of its employees part-time so it does not have to pay their insurance benefits. It was this business model that for years made Walmart the bane of the Left. Or at least that was the excuse at the time. Now, the Left loves Walmart, just like it loves any company that will push a “woke” agenda.

Whether it be stopping the sales of firearms, shielding illegal immigrants from the law, or promoting social justice, companies are now adding their voice to the public discourse. The problem is that this is the voice of the Left. By leaning on these companies, the Left is using commerce itself as another means of pushing its agenda. Sometimes this is done through the threat of public action, sometimes because activist leftists have wormed their way onto corporate boards and can influence decisions.

The American public does not need the corporate sector to be the voice of the people. People are perfectly capable of voting for their elected leaders at the ballot box. And we can vote for the companies we choose to support by purchasing their products. In short, people can make up their own minds. Leftists don’t like that, which is why they’re so interested in strong-arming American business. Not because they are concerned about the economy, but because they see it as another lever of power with which to enact their socialist agenda.

Companies that decide to go “woke” are merely following a trend. If CEOs choose to take their organizations into the political fray, then they will find themselves as political players. Being a political player may make a company popular with certain segments of society, but it will no longer be neutral in the eyes of the public. And what happens when the political winds shift, as they always do? What will be more important then, popularity with a base of leftist elites or staying in business?

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