by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
The latest National Review cover story features Kevin Williamson‘s reaction to an apparent paradox:
Given that progressives profess to hate corporations, why are our corporate leaders so progressive? It is easy to understand their taking a self-interested stand against the Trump administration over things such as the H-1B program and visa waivers, which interfere with their access to workers and customers, respectively. But 130 corporate leaders — including the CEOs of American Airlines and Bank of America — getting together to come down on North Carolina over public-bathroom rules that annoy transgender activists? Together with business leaders who have no presence in North Carolina and nothing to do with the state or its politics?
Among Williamson’s most compelling findings: “big companies such as Exxon and Apple … have a very strong incentive to engage in progressive activism rather than conservative activism.”
For one thing, there is a kind of moral asymmetry at work: Conservatives may roll their eyes a little bit at promises to build windmills so efficient that we’ll cease needing coal and oil, but progressives (at least a fair portion of them) believe that using fossil fuels may very well end human civilization. The nation’s F-150 drivers are not going to organize a march on Chevron’s headquarters if it puts a billion bucks into biofuels, but the nation’s Subaru drivers might very well do so if it doesn’t.
The same asymmetry characterizes the so-called social issues. The Left will see to it that Brendan Eich is driven out of his position at Mozilla for donating to an organization opposed to gay marriage, but the Right will not see to it that Tim Cook is driven out of his position for supporting gay marriage. For the Right, the question of gay marriage is an important moral and political disagreement, but for the Left the exclusion of homosexual couples from the legal institution of marriage was something akin to Jim Crow, and support for it isn’t erroneous, it is wicked. Even those on the right who proclaim that they they regard the question of homosexual relationships as a national emergency do not behave as though they really believe it: Remember that boycott of Disney theme parks launched with great fanfare by the American Family Association, Focus on the Family, and the Southern Baptist Convention back in 1996? Nothing happened, because conservative parents are not telling their toddlers that they cannot go to Disney World because the people who run the park are too nice to that funny blonde lady who has the talk show and dances in the aisles with her audience.
This helps explain why people like Justin Danhof of the National Center for Public Policy Research face an uphill battle.