Wednesday, January 05, 2022


Tom Friedman worries that there could be a repeat of January 6 after the 2024 election.
If the majority of G.O.P. lawmakers continue to bow to the most politically pernicious “alternative fact” — that the 2020 election was a fraud that justifies empowering Republican legislatures to override the will of voters and remove Republican and Democratic election supervisors who helped save our democracy last time by calling the election fairly — then America isn’t just in trouble. It is headed for what scientists call “an extinction-level event.”
He calls on one particular group to do what it can to prevent this outcome:
I think our last best hope is the leadership of the U.S. business community, specifically the Business Roundtable, led by General Motors C.E.O. Mary Barra, and the Business Council, led by Microsoft C.E.O. Satya Nadella. Together those two groups represent the roughly 200 most powerful companies in America, with 20 million employees. Although formally nonpartisan, they lean center-right — but the old center-right, the one that believed in the rule of law, free markets, majority rule, science and the sanctity of our elections and constitutional processes.

Collectively, they are the only responsible force left with real leverage on Trump and the Republican lawmakers doing his bidding. They need to persuade their members — now — not to donate a penny more to any local, state or national candidate who has voted to ... dismantle the Constitution.
Friedman is a ridiculous person -- but he's stumbled on the truth. These are the people who really run the country. If they wanted to, they could persuade the Republican Party to back away from the rejection of democracy.

But as Friedman notes, they're doing no such thing.
So what will big business do? I wish I were more optimistic.

CNBC reported Monday that data compiled by the watchdog group Accountable.US “shows that political action committees of top corporations and trade groups — including the American Bankers Association, Boeing, Raytheon Technologies, Lockheed Martin and General Motors — continued to give to the Republican election objectors.”

Kyle Herrig, president of Accountable.US, said in a statement: “Major corporations were quick to condemn the insurrection and tout their support for democracy — and almost as quickly, many ditched those purported values by cutting big checks to the very politicians that helped instigate the failed coup attempt. The increasing volume of corporate donations to lawmakers who tried to overthrow the will of the people makes clear that these companies were never committed to standing up for democracy in the first place.”

The leaders of these companies are totally underestimating the chances that our democratic institutions will unravel. And if American democracy unravels, the whole world becomes unstable. That will not exactly be good for business, either....

So, my New Year’s wish is that item one on the agenda for the next meetings of both the Business Roundtable and the Business Council will be: Which side are we on?
Friedman nearly grasps the truth, though people who are smarter than he is don't seem to have come any closer than he has to grasping it: The business community continues to bankroll Republicans who support the curtailing of democracy because big business thinks a post-democratic, illiberal, one-party America will be just fine, even if the president is Donald Trump again.

We all know America is a plutocracy, but even commentators who think that's a bad thing, and who are upset at corporations for continuing to make contributions to antidemocracy Republicans, don't seem to have grasped that it's the crucial thing: When a problem like this can't be solved through the normal governing process -- as is clearly the case now -- the only people left who could conceivably keep democracy on track are the people who, in our cash-driven system, supply the cash. Friedman, who likes the plutocrats, stumbled on this idea first.

But the plutocrats don't care. They assume that there won't be violence (I think they're right), or that any violence won't affect them. They assume that when illiberalism comes, life will go on much as before, with the same amount of buying and selling, much as it does in Hungary, the only difference being that half the country will never see its preferred candidates in power again for the foreseeable future. And they're fine with that.

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