For years, big corporations have been assaulting democracy with big money, drowning out the voices and needs of ordinary Americans and fueling much of the anger and cynicism that opened the door to Trump in the first place. Their assault hasn’t been as dramatic as the Trump thugs who stormed the Capitol, and it’s entirely legal – although more damaging over the long term.
A study published a few years ago by two of America’s most respected political scientists, Princeton professor Martin Gilens and Benjamin Page of Northwestern, concluded that the preferences of the average American “have only a minuscule, near-zero, statistically nonsignificant impact upon public policy”. Instead, lawmakers respond almost exclusively to the moneyed interests – those with the most lobbying prowess and deepest pockets to bankroll campaigns.
Look, I’m glad CEOs are penalizing the 147 Republican seditionists and that big tech is starting to police social media content. But don’t confuse the avowed concerns of these CEOs about democracy with democracy itself. They aren’t answerable to democracy. At most, they’re accountable to big shareholders and institutional investors who don’t give a fig as long as profits keep rolling in. These CEOs could do a U-turn tomorrow.