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Conservatives Make Clear that Corporate Wokeness Will Now Carry Costs

Posted on Friday, April 29, 2022
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by AMAC Newsline
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107 Comments

AMAC Exclusive – By Daniel Roman

The clash in Florida between Governor Ron DeSantis and the Disney corporation has caused exultation among members of the Republican base, who for years have seen the party and the conservative movement subordinate all other principles to Calvin Coolidge’s maxim that “the business of America is business,” even as corporate America has embraced the cultural agenda of the radical left. At the same time, there has been extensive soul searching among more traditionally conservative voices such as Charles Cooke in the National Review, expressing concern that attacking the privileges of a corporation because of its political speech is authoritarian, something often associated with Marxist regimes. They worry it could be the start of a slippery slope.

The problem is that like all slippery slope arguments, this merely proves that almost any policy, when taken to extremes, is a bad idea. For example, to suggest that concentrations of wealth or power in unelected hands can be a challenge to democracy does not support an argument for nationalization or socialism, which would of course be far more insidious in their subversion of democracy. It is simply not a betrayal of conservative principles to support actions to curtail the influence of large corporations.

In an article for AMAC Newsline entitled “The Conservative Case for Breaking up Big Tech” last year, I warned that:

For decades, a principled commitment to capitalism has sometimes drifted into an unconditional deference to concentrations of power, provided that power was located in the private sector. It was, and remains, inconceivable to many conservatives why corporate leaders would back the Democratic Party, much less champion causes such as lockdowns, environmental regulation, critical race theory, or media rules which seem designed to hurt the private sector. They have forgotten that, while the Left does hate corporations because they are wealthy, it was conservatives who once backed anti-trust laws because corporations had become too powerful.

Historically, conservatism did not support the free market or capitalist principles out of some sort of moral deference to wealth. Rather, conservatism was founded on a skepticism of mankind. It is the belief that mankind is fallible, and that given power, the tendency will be to abuse it. Conservatives supported capitalism and the free markets precisely because in the hands of many people, freedom was the greatest check on abuses of concentrated power because it decentralized power. The alternative to this approach — government officials deciding who is paid what – would raise the stakes in political conflicts, encouraging those in power to buy political support by offering wealth and advantage to those most able to help them seize and maintain power, not directing wealth to those who could use it most efficiently.

As I concluded last summer, ever since Adam and Eve, humans have been fighting the temptation to God-like power, and the temptation to abuse it was too much for the best men and women. Republicans and conservatives need to make clear that government will not tolerate the interference of unelected individuals who use their market power to thwart democracy, not because they distrust businesses, but because they value them and want to protect them from those who wish to use government to destroy free enterprise. Not all would-be socialists are poor.

The flaw of modern American conservatism has been an obsession with the potential abuses of governmental power that has blinded far too many to the threat posed by concentrations of private power. The role of Twitter was highlighted during the 2020 elections, when the company, along with Facebook and the Washington Post (owned by Jeff Bezos) took it upon themselves to determine what was and was not “misinformation” by suppressing the story of potential Biden family corruption contained in Hunter Biden’s laptop.

Then came the banning of Donald Trump, the President of the United States, from social media in January of 2021. Who elected those who made that decision? Not the American voters. Nor did the Twitter shareholders elect those who fought tooth and nail to prevent Elon Musk buying the company.

This highlights a flaw of the libertarian belief in markets. The idea that all businesses have an interest in a free market and a free society ceases to work at a level of scale when those in charge of companies care more about control of government — and the rules of the market that matter to them — than the health of the overall economy. Almost all small- and medium-sized businesses benefit from a healthy U.S. economy. But Amazon, for instance, saw unprecedented profits and growth from the COVID-19 lockdowns even while the rest of the economy suffered. Those lockdowns also drove many of Amazon’s rivals out of business by confining tens of millions to their homes, and the company raked in billions as people turned to online ordering. The destruction of Amazon’s rivals in the wider economy was, if anything, a bonus for the company.

Interests will always diverge, but matters change fundamentally if the powerful have significant interests that diverge from those of the American economy and, more consequentially, if they also have the power to effectuate those policies. Jeff Bezos is the owner of the Washington Post, giving him a major voice in U.S. politics, one which he used last week to directly target a Twitter account that exposes the dangers of progressive ideology. Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg, of course, spent almost $400 million in 2020 on local election administration in heavily democratic areas in several swing states.

This brings us to Disney. Democrats and National Review-esque conservatives would like to portray Disney’s foray into Florida politics in opposition to Florida’s recent laws regarding sexual instruction in grades K-3 as an act of principle, and the loss of their special economic zone near Orlando unjustifiable as political punishment. But Disney’s principles have always been limited by pragmatism; look no further than the company kowtowing to China, even on sacred LGBT or racial issues, such as removing a lesbian kiss from Star Wars in China, or when they removed African American star John Boyega from all Chinese posters for the films.

Disney’s recent corporate behavior has been therefore to defer to those it cannot defy, and to dictate to those whom it can dominate. When it comes to China, Disney chooses appeasement. In the U.S., Disney faces cancellation from the Left and cultural elites if it defies them, hence the willingness to fire fan favorite Gina Carano from the hit Star Wars spinoff series “The Mandalorian” for refusing to put pronouns in her Twitter bio and being a Republican. Carano, one of the first female MMA fighters, is a trailblazer, but she was fired because Disney assumed any outrage among viewers or conservatives would be minimal, while their left-wing employees and the entertainment media would harass the company until they acted.

Disney has been correct in their calculus – until now. That is the real purpose of Florida’s actions. It is not, per se, about Disney’s opposition to the recent law. Efforts to stop it were ineffective, and the law passed. It was rather about changing the incentive structure. Disney was willing to oppose the Florida law and Governor DeSantis because the company believed that if they did not, left-wing activists and the media would attack them, but if they did, they would get cheers from the left and media while DeSantis and Republicans would shrug and do nothing. The incentive was clear. Being “woke,” even ineffectively, was free. That, in a nutshell, explains corporate wokeness: it is a rational cost-benefit calculation, not a broad-based ideological commitment to some sort of post-modernist Marxist worldview.

By not “doing nothing,” but rather taking action, Governor DeSantis, the Florida legislature, and newly assertive conservatives have sent a very clear message not just to Disney but to every company: the incentives have changed. If you decide to attack conservatives on the assumption they will merely “take it,” then you will now face retaliation.

This will not, as the National Review worries, endanger corporate free speech. If Disney executives and shareholders feel that “wokeness” is worth a financial tradeoff, they are free to pursue it. There are undoubtedly many woke consumers in America. But Disney will now have to balance pandering to them with the newly clarified costs of alienating everyone else – which will not mean abandoning all political positions that aren’t conservative, but likely will involve avoiding issues where 70% of the public is opposed to the message the left wants them to push. Pandering to vocal minorities will no longer make business sense.

This is a “conservative” approach to the antitrust goal of thwarting the abuse of concentrated economic power, in methods as well as ends. It functions not through coercion, but through the same incentive structures as the free market. By changing the costs and benefits of options, it forces companies like Disney to think much harder about taking biased political stands. That, ultimately, is what conservatives should seek in any sort of marketplace. A balance, in which no one side becomes all powerful.

Daniel Roman is the pen name of a frequent commentator and lecturer on foreign policy and political affairs, both nationally and internationally. He holds a Ph.D. in International Relations from the London School of Economics.    

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Peter
Peter
1 year ago

I didn’t read the whole article because I keep up with “real news” and Gov. Ron DeSantis is only removing special privileges or more accurately having Disney follow the same laws as the rest of businesses in Florida! Trump won the election of 2020 and Demincrats and RINOs are evil

Richard
Richard
1 year ago

Trump election was clearly stolen illegally, Trump deserved 8 years as president of the USA. I vote for any Trump family member meets the age requirement that would return the Trump family to their position as President of the USA. Trump and his family deserve 8 years as president.

Richard
Richard
1 year ago

god bless Trump greatest family to be elected legally and unelected unconstitutional. Ronald w. Reagan would of stood in line and legally voted for Trump family.

FD
FD
1 year ago

It’s about time!

David
David
1 year ago

All Ron did is take away privileges that Disney shouldn’t have had in the first place. After “conservatives” complaining about the bias on social sites, along comes Elon to save the day, not to mention many new upstarts now on the scene. There should be a separation between business and state, just as there is a separation between religion and state. Business runs itself just fine.

Gary
Gary
1 year ago

What exactly does the word woke mean? As far as I can see what woke means is that whatever a person thinks or does is OK as long as it is politically correct with the establishment.This goes beyond the bounds of moral standards and judicial standards in this country. Political wokeness is the the end for American democracy! And the beginning of Chaos in our nation.

Gary
Gary
1 year ago

Its all a matter of morals, of what is right and wrong! The corrupt government holding power right now have no morals! They are corrupt power hungry lowlife swamp scum! (My opinon) Our for fathers fought for their freedoms and today we again need to fight for our freedom! But also to uphold laws to protect our freedoms our rights and our choice ! The courts are there to uphold all this and punish thoes that break our written laws!

Sandra
Sandra
1 year ago

Getting a another prospective on issues that affect us.

Locke
Locke
1 year ago

Good.

Ray
Ray
1 year ago

DeSantis is my governor, and we love him. But credit to Donald Trump for reinserting a spine into conservatism. He’s the one who broke our history of passivity. He fought back. Some didn’t like it, “mean tweets!,” but he put energy into our defense of liberty. As this article suggests, we too can protest, and boycott, and harass, and ridicule. We’ve been slow to join the fight, we’re nice people, but we’ve been pushed too far.

pete
pete
1 year ago

I also object to the concentration of products into one or maybe two choices. For example, aftermarket auto parts manufacturers are down to two companies; all the others have been consolidated

Rich C
Rich C
1 year ago

Disney and others have continuously slid farther down the slippery slope. Such a shame. If a corporation is “woke” they should keep it to themselves and not shove it in our face. So much like the socialist democrats. I wonder if they are learning anything by going after our kids? (both of them) I certainly don’t need them and will continue to cancel their culture in my life. From “woke” to awake! I love it.

BAE
BAE
1 year ago

The business of America might be business, but the left produces NOTHING. They stir the
pot to get more free stuff. They’re useless and ruthless !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

dunce
dunce
1 year ago

i am delighted to see that AMAC is part of this resistance.

Chuck
Chuck
1 year ago

When I see comments from authors such as in this article as “challenges to democracy, subversion of democracy, and thwart democracy”, I cringe at their lack of understanding of our constitution and Americanist principles. Communists preach “democracy” as the path to totalitarian communist takeover. Google “Republics and Democracies” by Robert Welch and for $2 to $35 you can “get
the rest of the story”.

MBlanc46
MBlanc46
1 year ago

Corporations have always done what the elites have wanted. Now that the elites have adopted radical globalist and multicultural ideas, the corporations have simply followed suit.

Dan W.
Dan W.
1 year ago

For an interesting comparison, go to the Comments section of the AMAC poll from a couple of weeks ago dated April 15th titled: “Should colleges that will not allow conservative freedom of speech be denied federal funding?” and compare those comments with the comments to this article. 

Both that poll and this article debate whether either more speech OR the suppression of speech should be the remedy to unpopular speech.

JudeDude
JudeDude
1 year ago

Excellent article, “Daniel Roman”!

MNix
MNix
1 year ago

John Boyega isn’t African-American, he’s not American at all. He’s a dual citizen of Britain and Nigeria. Hes just got a really good American accent.

Clair Leeper
Clair Leeper
1 year ago

TLDR
Please, our collective attention span is about 30 seconds, you sure are taking your time getting around to a few salient points!

Janet Poling
Janet Poling
1 year ago

Excellent

djaymick
djaymick
1 year ago

This was about big corporations throwing their weight around at the expense of others. Coca-Cola and Delta both forced MLB to move the All-Star game. The small, minority owned businesses suffered. Now, Disney doesn’t want you to read the bill; they want you to blindly follow. Most big companies now align with the Democratic Party. They are promised foreign workers (Koch Industry) and the money and activism begin.
(And if people think Disney “waited until it was too late”, they are mistaken. Disney owns ABC/ESPN, who ran stories against the law. Helped the echo chamber create “Don’t Say Gay”. Maybe people should start focusing on this and why trust in the media is at a all-time low.)

Robert Zuccaro
Robert Zuccaro
1 year ago

It takes a real business genius running a family oriented theme park to come out as ANTI-PARENT. Instead of us trying to explain why a parent objects to a non-family member talking sex with a four to eight year old child, how about them explaining their need to do so? Pedophiles much?

Robert
Robert
1 year ago

Unfortunately, most global American based corporations are akin to enemies of the states. These slugs put profits over values and American lives at almost every turn. Much like many of the folks on Capitol Hill. Why the hell are we meddling in the corrupt Ukraine? Maybe because its where Hunter was providing great insight and leadership on the board of Burisma? We have no business aggravating an unstable and nuclear armed Putin in a place where we lack any worthy geopolitical interest. Hey, I have an idea, lets go ahead and commit some young Americans to the early grave and to wheelchairs for a protracted conflict in a place where we have no business. In the end, it will not make a bit of difference (Viet Nam, Afghanistan, Iraq). Why not add Ukraine to the list of great accomplishments….That way, Lindsay Graham, Mitt Romney, and many other talking head fools on the Hill, who will not protect their own country’s border nor bear arms or go into harms way themselves, can make a lot of dough.

Dan W.
Dan W.
1 year ago

For an interesting comparison, go to the Comments section of the AMAC poll from a couple of weeks ago dated April 15th titled: amac.us/poll/should-colleges-that-will-not-allow-conservative-freedom-of-speech-be-denied-federal-funding Should colleges that will not allow conservative freedom of speech be denied federal funding? and compare those comments with the comments to this article.
Both that poll and this article debate whether either more speech or the suppression of speech should be the remedy to unpopular speech.

Greg
Greg
1 year ago

Paraphrasing Thomas Sowell – Capitalism is a willing buyer and a willing seller, where the buyer is willing to pay more for a product than the cost of the seller to produce the product.
When the seller adds a facet of that relationship which is objectionable to the buyer, but has nothing to do with the product, the buyer may make a non-product decision to not buy the product. In other words, it doesn’t make a bit of difference how good a hamburger you make, few are going to want to buy it if your restaurant has garbage on the floor, flies in the dirty windows, and your servers are wearing dirty aprons.
Again, referring to Prof. Sowell – Capitalism is a relationship where the seller is invested in making the buyer happy.
Capitalism is about the buyer’s perception, not the seller’s. Any business that is more concerned about it’s opinion/welfare/politics than that of the buyer, risks and deserves failure.

Citizen
Citizen
1 year ago

The author contradicts himself so many times that it’s funny. This is simple political retribution plain and simple. This is the same cancel culture the right pretends to hate

Nancy
Nancy
1 year ago

We are being hit on every side by a controlling Government. Invasion on the southern border, gun control, speech is censored, and we are required to take government backed injections!

The Biden administration is in full dictatorship mode!

John K
John K
1 year ago

Corporate America failed to calculate (correctly) what the expense is for speaking out openly on political issues. I personally have adjusted many of my purchases as a result of this. Disney is yet another example. It is clear they did not anticipate DeSantis’ actions. I applaud him for not cowering to them.

Rik
Rik
1 year ago

You bet! . . . I will BOYCOTT any business BACKING so-called “SOCIALISM”!

PIDL
PIDL
1 year ago

Most of the bureaucrats in all of the 3 letter agencies like the FBI, CIA, NSA, FCC, FEC, Homeland Security, etc., are not elected. Yet they make huge decisions everyday that effect us. And there seems to be no control or supervision from Congress. These people are supposed to follow the laws of the land. But they do not. The swamp is huge, but not very deep.

Larry W.
Larry W.
1 year ago

Corporations like Disney and coke and others have decided that the conservative voice doesn’t matter. They have taken their stand and it’s time for the conservatives to fight back. Find alternatives instead of buying their products. If you continue to give them your money then you are part of the problem of eroding our country’s values.

allen
allen
1 year ago

i can think of only one thing worse that a corrupt, inmoral government is a socialty filled with powerful imoral despots in virtually every industry which controls the daily life of the ordinary citizen.
oh. wait, dont we have both of those now? never mind, i didnt say anything.
i have been watchin to much babylon bee!

LikeItIs
LikeItIs
1 year ago

Excellent article and right-on American opinion. I hope many read and understand it. Thank you.

Tim Toroian
Tim Toroian
1 year ago

People are waking up. Others say that the residents of the Disney area will be paying higher taxes seem to have overlooked that Disney’s tax bill will be HUGE

Traditionalist
Traditionalist
1 year ago

The American public is waking up to the disastrous trends in our culture. The time is right to
reject programs, companies, and institutions that persist in wrong, hurtful approaches.

Patriot Eric
Patriot Eric
1 year ago

Get WOKE, go BROKE!! #FJB #MAGA

Dave
Dave
1 year ago

Disney does not understand their position. If conservatives want to avoid leftist corporations such as Apple or Google, it is hard to do because those company’s services are so essential to mordern life. Avoiding Disney, on the other hand, is easy to do; there are plenty of alternatives, and it does not disrupt your life to do it. (They also have miscalculated the general public’s support for the woke agenda, the LGBTQ+ agenda in particular.)

Garye
Garye
1 year ago

EVERY Real American and EVERY Conservative should BOYCOTT EVERY corporation that buys into this BS!
It is a clear ATTACK on Freedom,America and The Citizens of OUR COUNTRY!

Stephen Russell
Stephen Russell
1 year ago

Wokeness costs:

o Devalue stock
o boycott products
o dont attend events
o remove as sponsor for event X
o sell stock.

Hans
Hans
1 year ago

Something more is going on behind the scenes that Homeland Security, Military and laws need to fight against. We are being financially invaded by foreign entities and governments that are un-elected. and this is the side affects WOKE disasters in businesses getting involved in politics where they are in violation of their fiduciary duty to stock holders. Laws need to make it easier for stockholders to sue the companies they own and removal of CEO’s, board members, can be swift and easy so it is more difficult to hijack a billion dollar company with a few million. Where laws are broken, swift action needs to be taken as a message to other stups.

Casey C Matt
Casey C Matt
1 year ago

Weird…….AMAC attacking that RINO/Bill Kristol rag, National Review. Weird in the sense that lately AMAC has been busy following deep state dogma over the Ukraine issue which in reality concerns the United States in no way shape or form.
Maybe AMAC will wake up and cease drinking the DOD kool aid regarding Ukraine and maybe even quit with the juvenile mantra of “Putin bad”. Is everyone so stupid they cannot realize the ignorance of this stance? How many individuals make up the Russian government? Does anyone outside of Russia realize that in Russia Putin is considered a moderate with many calling for one hell of a lot nastier response against the west and Ukraine than Putin has allowed?
Everyone needs to do a little research, remember the laptop story and the “50 members of the intelligence agencies consider the laptop story to be Russian disinformation”. That was an earlier mantra that was repeated ad nauseum until the laptop was finally outed by someone being rational for a change.
Buy NOTHING our government tells us……not under this leadership.

Harry L Guzaliak Jr
Harry L Guzaliak Jr
1 year ago

We lived in Florida for over 10 years. About 40 miles from Disney and never went there. Way overrated, not cost effective.

Roll the dice
Roll the dice
1 year ago

Couldn’t care less if Disney dissolved. Felt Disney 4x. 2x enjoyed. 2x not so much. WAY overpriced. Last time, Said, “Never Again”! Business should stay Out of politics. Politics should stay Out of business. I spent 10 years in the oilfields. Politics caused the bust and change of occupation. D. Or R.. both responsable for our huge debt. R gets my vote 1 (one) last time. D never again. If R doesn’t put U.S.A. on track, I am done voting. All politicians! Get off your Hiney’s and do whats right for America! Fjb!

Barb304
Barb304
1 year ago

Come November I plan to vote for Conservatives only. Boot this bunch we have running/ruining our country OUT OF OFFICE!!!

HOMER SIMPSON
HOMER SIMPSON
1 year ago

F-NIKE! F-DISNEY AND THEIR FUDGE PACKERS, F-MSM, F-0’BIDEN, F-0’BAMA, F-HILLARY

F-ANY & ALL COMPANIES WHO ARE WOKE

jocko
jocko
1 year ago

ALL libs ARE A CANCER AND ARE LIARS, CHEATERS, ANTI-AMERICAN. they ARE THE ENEMY OF OUR NATION

Jack Tomkins
Jack Tomkins
1 year ago

The president and his minions have announced agencies to put out propaganda, to push censorship and to punish people with dissenting opinions from the official propaganda, in both the DOD and in Homeland Security. This is insane. And the idea that they would go on national TV and brag about doing so is seriously scary.

Dan W.
Dan W.
1 year ago

States still need to be careful about using higher corporate taxes as a hammer.

Maybe reducing Disney’s state tax advantage is a unique case but we’ve seen what’s happened in California with some companies being lured away by state tax incentives from other states.

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