by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
Remember when companies tried to stay out of politics? I’d imagine Delta Air Lines is recalling those days very fondly. The airline bowed to pressure from liberal activists to stop offering a group discount to the National Rifle Association’s annual convention. Now it’s facing a backlash from Georgia Republicans. Given that Delta’s headquarters and biggest hub are in Atlanta, that’s a big problem.
Delta is wanly protesting that it wasn’t trying to make a political statement but to keep out of politics altogether. But it ended the discount in response to a political pressure campaign. And the company made a point of announcing its decision on Twitter, rather than quietly informing the NRA. If anyone at Delta thought that this wouldn’t be taken as a swipe at the NRA, that person really needs to make some time to meet a few human beings while visiting our planet.
Indeed, that was the point. NRA finances aren’t going to be devastated because members no longer get a small discount to attend its convention. Nor will NRA members stop supporting gun rights because Delta declares them unworthy of a cut-rate fare. They’re more likely to look for another airline. …
… [C]ompanies in industries that benefit greatly from economies of scale (such as shipping or airlines) can’t stay in business by catering to a small, fanatically partisan fan base. They need to appeal as broadly as possible. Publicly slighting millions of NRA members, and the many more millions who feel some tribal kinship with them, is unlikely to be good for any such business.
Nor is it likely to be good for the country. For what happens to an increasingly demographically sorted America when we no longer share even our basic commercial culture?