It’s a hell of a read, if only for the level of raw cynicism involved. The trade group appears to really, really want corporate donors to resume donations to the lawmakers who promoted an election hoax that goaded Trump supporters into seditionist violence, and is full of messaging advice on how to do it while minimizing brand damage. Everyone in the conversation knows that the reason corporate PACs give cash to sitting lawmakers is to gain access and to influence their votes on major legislation affecting their attached companies, so the discussion centers more on how to make that sound not-crooked in future press releases.
The Republican operative leading the conversation, Michael DuHaime, notes that providing corporate cash to a lawmaker who “voted after a Capitol insurrection where a police officer was killed” was a “really tough question” they might be asked, but one response might be that the hoax-promoting seditionist “supported ten other things that are important to your industry.”
Oh, well sure. Destabilized the nation, caused multiple deaths, brought democracy itself into question, and proved willing to provide authoritarian-minded propaganda in which hoaxes pulled from Dear Leader’s delusional brain are now considered more authoritative than reality itself—but on the other hand, maybe the resulting era of fascist violence will come with tax breaks. Gotta consider all sides.
While the central theme of the webinar appears to be that corporate PAC offices are, if possible, even worse than anyone ever imagined them to be, large American corporations do not appear to need the prodding of prominent Republican operatives to want to return to normal. The shock of actual insurrection and death—again, all premised on known-false hoaxes peddled by Republican lawmakers as means of delegitimizing an election in which their party’s de facto emperor lost—was enough to cause companies to swiftly cut off donations to the hoax’s promoters. Despite this, the Republicans whose money streams had dried up wasted little time themselves in threatening to use their official powers to retaliate against companies no longer willing to send checks.
Even aside from such threats, more than a few companies have been struggling to define what stand, precisely, they are supposed to be taking: Many put a temporary stop to all political contributions after panicking corporate offices could not muster the courage to definitively come down either for or against sedition, but knew they would be expected to do something. Megacorporations like Intel, AT&T, and Cigna abandoned their anti-seditionist pledges within weeks of announcing them, unable to stomach the thought of not giving cash to pro-hoax lawmakers who might be otherwise “supportive” of their needs.
The lesson to all of this is that corporate America is still extremely twitchy about taking anything more than the most token of stands against Republicanism’s new propaganda-heavy, anti-democratic focus. There will be more pressure in individual states, where corporate offices may more acutely feel the cashflow dangers of aligning themselves with specific anti-democratic actions, but neither morality nor patriotism is going to amount to much in executive suites long used to dismantling the common good as daily business practice. There is still the assumption—both in the public and in office towers—that even if Republicans do succeed in delegitimizing elections, in weaponizing propaganda as means of government, and in boosting incompetent Dear Leaderism over competent governance, that the nation will muddle through somehow. Only a half million Americans will die; only an election here or there will be thrown by new Republican demands that party loyalists act as final arbiters of which elections are valid and which are not.
For corporate offices that cannot muster bold stances on anything, at any time, the notion that if those who promoted hoaxes to the public that resulted in insurrection and death are just mollified for a wee bit longer things will settle down again is a hell of a bet to make. It’s objectively nonsensical; once a politician proves willing to promote dangerous hoaxes in bids to retain power, there is no plausible way it ends after the first attempt. What do these companies intend to do when the lawmakers on their payroll inevitably push the same claims again, and it inevitably ends in terrorist acts perpetrated by hoax believers? What happens then, corporate PAC executives?