On February 22, Enterprise Rent-A-Car released a tweet stating that “All three of our brands have ended the discount for NRA members. This change will be effective March 26.” This move is almost too daft for words given this company has a history of being relatively politically savvy and is headquartered in Missouri (a big NRA membership state). Enterprise has also relied on Republican support for corporate tax reform and, more importantly, for arguably one of its most important industry-specific issues over a decade ago (more on that below).
Commercial decisions are commercial decisions, but this one reeks of leftist pandering. You have to assume that Enterprise originally set up this program with the National Rifle Association because attracting a large and loyal membership base made smart business sense. It’s no secret gun owners stick together and support those who support them. How does removing an incentive to literally millions of law abiding gun owners help this company now? One can only imagine the C-suite meeting that occurred to discuss this issue:
- Communications Minion #1: “Hey, let’s take a stand and put out a press release condemning the NRA’s activities.”
- Communications Minion #2: “Guys, you know we offer a discount to NRA members and have done so for years, right?”
- Communications Minion #3: “Hmm…that’s a problem. They have been loyal customers, but we want to do something. Let’s cancel it! Michael! Tweet it out!”
- Crowd Cheers!
- Michael: “Sounds good. Done.”
I have never been a gun owner, and, admittedly, I have been an on-again-off-again NRA member through the years, but I have always been quite loyal to Enterprise. Why? Historical political loyalties, good customer service and pricing, and a true affinity for the state because I attended advanced training while enlisted in the U.S. Army at Fort Leonard Wood, MO.
Additionally, I envied Enterprise’s leadership during the 2005 highway reauthorization bill when Missouri Congressman, Sam Graves (R-MO/6th), rightfully offered an amendment that would shield rental car companies from vicarious liability damages. This saved rental car companies tens of millions of dollars in potential damages annually. The vote was close: 218-201. If you scan the supporters of one of Enterprise’s most important policy goals you will see the folks siding with them, more likely than not, are friendly with the NRA or members themselves.
The Missouri delegation has long advocated for protecting Second Amendment rights. And much like Enterprise, gun manufacturers have also successfully shielded themselves from others using their products to harm people.
So, what has Enterprise done now? It put its past champions in a weird situation in which the local press, then the state press and eventually the D.C.-based liberal media will start asking Missouri members what they think about your newest (cough, cough!) commercial decision that, quite frankly, makes them look bad. Here’s something for corporations to remember as they enjoy their recent GOP-driven tax cuts: Democrats will never be your allies. Ever. They will find a reason to shame you for a myriad of issues — too much profit, executive compensation, not enough benefits for employees, tax avoidance, blah blah blah.
Big Pharma learned this lesson the hard way when they stabbed the GOP in the back by switching their support in favor of Obamacare at the 11th hour (oh, and by the way, Enterprise, Big Pharma is far more influential than you are within the Beltway). Big Pharma has never recovered and is under assault — from the carving-up of the Affordable Care Act, to President Trump’s distrust, to corporate challenges by the likes of Amazon.
What Enterprise has done with this feel-good move, is create enemies — both customers and elected officials — who will no longer trust it. The elected officials will be courteous to your face and probably take your political contributions but — make no mistake about it — the relationship will never be the same.
If I were an elected official and NRA supporter, the first order of business on the next must-pass piece of legislation would be an amendment to strike the Graves Amendment from public law. Every NRA-hating Democrat would support it with enough GOP members to clear the House, and would probably pass by unanimous consent in the Senate.
Enterprise, listen: In Washington, what comes around goes around. It may take some time, but your comeuppance will happen, and I can’t wait to watch that playout. In the meantime, every Republican and NRA member should take a page out of the leftist handbook and permanently boycott Enterprise Rent-a-Car.
Let’s hit the company where it hurts.
Todd A. Boulanger is a longtime Republican operative who frequently appears across all cable networks to give his thoughts on the political and policy stories of the day.
The views and opinions expressed in this commentary are those of the author and do not reflect the official position of The Daily Caller.