It’s a cloudy, overcast day here at my home in the country outside of Las Vegas, New Mexico. While many of us have gotten vaccinated and are moving on with our lives, another momentous storm is sweeping across the country.
Yes, we do seem to be slowly beating back the COVID pandemic. In fact, Dr. Fauci recently indicated that “we would approach some degree of normality as we get towards the end of the summer and into the fall, and a considerable degree of normality” by next winter. I hope he’s right.
Yet, what’s happening today in America’s corporate boardrooms is anything but normal. As I noted in my blog of April 9 (https://breakingbigmoneysgrip.com/my-blog/), Republican lawmakers throughout the nation are doing whatever they can to gain and maintain political power. In 47 states they are making it more difficult for people of color to vote, people much more likely to support Democrats.
Now, a new voice has suddenly entered the fight to protect our voting rights. Hundreds of U.S. corporations and executives, including Amazon, Apple, Facebook, Google, G.M., Starbucks and Warren Buffett, recently signed on to a two-page ad in the New York Times and the Washington Post calling for the defense of Americans’ voting rights.
And, in the irony of all ironies, the Republicans are up in arms. Here’s how Republican leader Sen. Mitch McConnell, who knows how to talk out of both sides of his mouth better than any other politician, responded to the corporate support for voters’ rights:
“My warning to corporate America is to stay out of politics,” before unbelievably adding, “I’m not talking about political contributions.”
This is the same Sen. McConnell who praised the 2010 Supreme Court’s Citizens United ruling that money is speech protected by the First Amendment and corporations are just like people who, therefore, have the right to finance election spending:
“For too long, some in this country have been deprived of full participation in the political process.” He hailed the decision as “an important step” in “restoring the First Amendment rights of these groups.”
Of course, both parties take loads of campaign contributions from corporate interests. However, the Democrats are not the hypocrites that McConnell and his Republican colleagues are. They don’t accept huge donations and then tell their corporate donors to stay out of politics.
But here’s where you come in. Tell these corporate contributors to put their money where their mouths are and back up their speech with effective action.
Do the following to help strengthen corporate efforts in the fight for voters’ rights:
- Check out the NYT ad at https://www.nytimes.com/2021/04/14/business/dealbook/ceos-voting-rights.html
- Write down the names of companies that you do business with or from whom you buy their products.
- Write/email those companies. Tell them you are a customer of theirs and you support their stance on voting rights. Write to as many companies as you can.
- Urge them not to donate to any candidate or elected official (state or federal) who supports state or federal efforts to restrict voting rights in any way, or who was involved in the January 6 insurrection.
- Insist that they only donate to candidates and elected officials (state or federal) who support HR1/S1 (the For the People Act) and the John Lewis Voting Rights Act.
- Contact your friends and family and ask them to take the above steps as well.
Together, with Corporate America on the side of protecting everyone’s right to vote and our demanding they withhold funding of Republicans working to restrict voting rights, we can be a powerful force in the struggle to save our democracy.
Bruce Berlin, J.D.
A retired, public sector ethics attorney, Berlin is the author of Breaking Big Money’s Grip on America (See breakingbigmoneysgrip.com.), the founder of New Mexicans for Money Out of Politics, a former U.S. Institute of Peace fellow, and the founder and former executive director of The Trinity Forum for International Security and Conflict Resolution. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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 https://www.brennancenter.org/our-work/research-reports/voting-laws-roundup-march-2021?ms=gad_voting%20laws_513381296572_8626214133_121430490955&gclid=Cj0KCQjw6-SDBhCMARIsAGbI7Ugdzt2p9ECuO9L4gAq34U9LPZvOTc2tbxNqs02ZMCZQmaEGpr038xAaAmYbEALw_wcB; https://www.pbs.org/newshour/show/how-restrictive-voting-requirements-target-minorities
 https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2021-04-14/corporate-america-unites-for-voting-rights-without-naming-plan; https://www.nytimes.com/2021/04/14/business/ceos-corporate-america-voting-rights.html