Rep. Paul Gosar (R-Arizona) and Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), center, are applauded by Republican members of Congress after they opposed certification of electoral votes for the state of the Arizona during a joint session of Congress on January 6, 2021 in Washington, DC (Photo by Win McNamee / Getty Images)
In the wake of the 2020 murders of George Floyd and other black Americans at the hands of police and vigilantes, many business leaders have finally started speaking out against the systemic racism within their industries and the nation.
As the spring of 2020 saw Fortune 500 CEOs post missives denouncing racism, launching diversity and inclusion initiatives, and donating millions to social justice causes, some request if these actions were more marketing than real efforts to change the corporate culture. The continued support of corporate institutions for elected officials who undermined democracy and communities of color ‘access to voting before and after the January 6, 2021 insurgency suggests that critics were right to be wary.
The January 6 attack was not only an attack on American democracy, but also an assertion of white supremacy. A crowd of extremely white the insurgents stormed the Capitol brandishing weapons and Confederate flags in one effort focused on invalidate the votes of millions of Americans in communities with large black and brown populations in several battlefield states. Weeks before the siege, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton led a trial with other attorneys general of the republican states to target these same voters. In the hours following the attempted insurgency, 147 members of Congress, now known as the Sedition Caucus, voted against the certification of election results, citing the same “Big lie“which led to the attack. History teaches that coup attempts maybe violent and non violent. A year ago, the United States survived a violent coup attempt by armed insurgents outside Capitol Hill and a bloodless coup attempt by 147 lawmakers who worked inside the Capitol.
Amid public outrage over the Capitol uprising, major corporations and industry groups have announced that they will suspend, end or reassess their political donations to politicians who voted against certification of the election. Many of these engagements turned out to be short-lived. A To analyse by Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) found that since the insurgency, companies that made these commitments have donated a total of $ 4,785,000 to support members of the Sedition Caucus. This figure includes nearly $ 2,381,250 going directly to member campaigns and leadership PACs.
Government contractors like Boeing ($ 346,500) and Lockheed Martin ($ 308,000), for example, were among the top corporate donors to turn the tide and resume funding for the Sedition Caucus. In addition, 20 companies, including Boeing, Walmart and Home Depot, donated $ 60,200 to 12 of the attorneys general whose lawsuit sought to overturn the election results. In the weeks following January 6, as state legislatures introduced measures to restrict access to the vote that had a disproportionate impact on voters from communities of color and the sedition caucus opposite protect vote Access to Congress, corporate donations to these politicians continued to flow.
While there are plenty of examples of these questionable corporate flip flops, corporate giants General Motors (GM) and Johnson & Johnson (J&J) provide case studies of this dissonance. In one message to employees addressing the murders of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery and Breonna Taylor, GM CEO Mary Barra said in part: in the shadow of silence. DG appointed $ 10 million to support organizations that promote racial justice. In 2020, Johnson & Johnson CEO Alex Gorsky affirmed “The company’s commitment to justice and equality” and pledged “$ 10 million to fight racism and injustice in America”. After the Capitol uprising, GM and J&J on break all Politics contributions, and in April, they joined other big business in a two-page New York Times ad pleading with elected leaders to “defend democracy” and “guarantee the right to vote.” The two companies also resumed their political donations to support the Sedition Caucus in April.
Even like companies have pledged millions to fight racism, the impact of their financial support for the Sedition Caucus cannot be underestimated. These political donations, whatever their size, give general credibility to elected officials who have and continue to promote the extreme, refuted see that the 2020 election has been Fly by Donald Trump. They promote normalization voter suppression and discrimination. Donations, like these, made in a year without an election contribute to the advantages a mandate that can frighten candidates in primary and general elections, potentially depriving voters of the opportunity to choose leaders who genuinely support democracy. As we have witnessed, one or two votes in Congress can make a difference on key issues, especially whether Americans have access to health care Where a functioning democracy.
As the national conversation on systemic racism in 2020 gives way to a inevitable backlash, the backsliding of American companies was also predictable. Yet the rapid turnaround by many companies following their pre- and post-insurgency racial justice rhetoric on January 6, 2021 requires us to re-evaluate their engagement and question the political advantage they sought in betting their “Values”. Once the calendar moves past January 6 and gets closer to our annual Martin Luther King Jr. Day celebration, we’ll likely see another round of platitudes and financial commitments to racial justice. One can only hope that business leaders will take into account the lesser known words from Dr King this “the ultimate measure of a man is not where he finds himself in times of comfort and convenience, but where he finds himself in times of challenge and controversy”, and ends their support for elected officials who exacerbate systemic racism and undermine democracy.
Donald K. Sherman is Vice President and Legal Counsel of CREW. Prior to joining CREW, Sherman held various positions in the House, Senate, and executive branch, including as Special Assistant to the President for Racial and Economic Justice at Biden’s White House and Chief Oversight Advisor to the late Elijah Cummings, on the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform. For him on Twitter: @donaldonethics.
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