Immediately after our victory for free speech was handed down by the U.S. Supreme Court in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, liberals from President Barack Obama to Senator Chuck Schumer said the decision would open the floodgates for big corporations to use their largesse to take over our elections by drowning out the voices of the little guy. Now, more than 11 years since the landmark decision, this prediction — like many others — simply never transpired. But the politics of fear and the barrage of outright lies continue nonetheless.
The Democrats’ latest effort to overturn Citizens United — H.R. 1 — is deceitfully labeled the “For The People Act.” The reality is that H.R. 1 would stifle constitutionally protected free speech and once again tilt power back to entrenched interests in Washington. This is exactly what President Joe Biden, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer desperately want: permanent and total control of government and our lives.
The truth is that corporations do not dominate our elections as a result of the robust free speech rights that were reasserted by the Citizens United decision — although they have a First Amendment right to participate in the electoral process. A report by The Center for Responsive Politics in 2020 found that “Despite fears that elections would be dominated by corporations, the biggest political players are actually wealthy individual donors.”
In fact, you’d be hard pressed to find evidence of a big corporation engaging directly in a multi-million dollar independent expenditure campaign to influence an election. It simply doesn’t happen and the reason is obvious. The market is always right, so why upset half of your consumers?
In the aftermath of the Citizens United decision, CEOs and corporate boards understood that wading into politics had a way of hurting bottom lines and that was a surefire way to get fired from a high powered and well paid position. At the end of the day, it wasn’t worth the risk. If a corporation wants to kill a piece of legislation or support a candidate, it’s safer to do so through lobbyists and political action committees, not on the front page of The New York Times, in order to appease a radical ideology.
What’s happening in corporate America today is not due to the Citizens United decision but rather on account of threats from the fascist cancel culture that is infecting our society. Here’s how the radical left operates: if you don’t bow to their radical agenda, they’ll try to destroy you in every way imaginable. They’ll label you a Nazi or a racist and then their allies in the mainstream media will gladly repeat the charge ad nauseam.
What transpired in Georgia after the state’s new voting integrity law was enacted is a lesson in why corporate leaders should educate themselves before they get involved. Coca-Cola, Delta and Major League Baseball all faced a backlash once it became clear the bill in question actually expanded voting for all Georgians. As a result of cowardice and stupidity, a healthy percentage of the 74 million Trump voters in this country will stop drinking Coke, flying Delta and choose to do something other than attend a woke baseball game. When you alienate 50% of the people, expect to see your bottom line take a sizable hit.
Hopefully the upshot of the shameful Georgia episode is that the left’s next target thinks twice and says no to this new form of fascism that’s plotting to destroy America from within. In the end, sanity must prevail over wokeness. The Citizens United decision gives corporations the right to speak in our political process if they choose to get involved. In the case of woke cancel culture, it’s the opposite. Intolerant leftists are coercing corporate leaders to speak out in favor of the socialist agenda … or else. This behavior is un-American and dangerous.
In the span of a decade, the left has gone from saying corporations should stay out of politics completely to demanding corporations spend their resources to advance their radical viewpoints or suffer dire consequences.
Thankfully, there are major downsides to aligning with this anti-democratic scourge. Recent polling indicates that 64% of the American people believe that cancel culture is a threat to freedom. Prominent liberals — including ones that know how to win elections — see woke culture as a pending disaster for them at the polls. James Carville — the architect of Bill Clinton’s successful 1992 presidential campaign — said that “wokeness is a problem … and we all know it.” Television host Bill Maher has also made news with his criticism of the cancel culture: “… when the woke mob comes after you for some ridiculous offense you’ll stand your ground, stop apologizing.”
Carville and Maher are right. Shutting down wokeness and cancel culture must be a bipartisan concern. The right to speak freely about our beliefs — whatever they are — without fear of reprisal is one of the core principles that make America special in the eyes of the world. The left’s drive to suppress healthy debate is a cancer that must be cut out. People who agree with this premise must stand up and take action before it’s too late.
David N. Bossie is president of Citizens United and served as deputy campaign manager for Donald J. Trump for President in 2016.