Justin Danhof: Vote the Corporate Bums Out

NEW YORK, NEW YORK - OCTOBER 28: Apple CEO Tim Cook attends Apple TV+'s "The Morning Show" World Premiere at David Geffen Hall on October 28, 2019 in New York City. (Photo by Astrid Stawiarz/Getty Images,) SUN VALLEY, ID - JULY 09: Jack Dorsey, creator of Twitter and founder and …
Astrid Stawiarz, Scott Olson, Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

After being disappeared, the social media platform Parler found its way back to the Internet two weeks ago. It was an arduous journey that shows how widespread the left’s desire is to cancel conservative organizations, people, speech, and ideas.

In early January, Apple, Google, and Amazon teamed up to kick Parler, a social media company favored by conservatives, off the Internet. There one day and gone the next, Parler was declared unfit by these corporate oligarchs simply because it allowed conservatives to freely communicate. These tech giants disappeared Parler with the stroke of a key. Full stop.

Conservatives are rightly furious at these corporate censors. But I have to ask: What are conservative leaders doing about it?

Conservatives are also justifiably furious at Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter for banning all manner of conservative speech, including deleting former President Trump’s accounts.

But again, what are conservative leaders doing about it?

Some right-wing state leaders are threatening to divest state pension funds from these Orwellian businesses. That’s the last thing they should do.

When big business teams up with the political left and takes actions that are anathema to conservatives, the right-wing reaction is almost always to call for a boycott. But sit back and ask yourself when that has ever worked. Remember when conservatives were going to boycott Nike after it signed cop-hating Colin Kaepernick to a multimillion-dollar endorsement deal? They didn’t. So when Kaepernick demanded that Nike pull a shoe honoring Betsy Ross and the American flag from store shelves, Nike’s management complied. Conservatives once again threatened to boycott. They didn’t. So now Nike knows that these are hollow threats.

I could repeat this example hundreds of times with hundreds of companies.

Remember the conservative boycott of Procter & Gamble over its toxic masculinity and transgender promotion ads? Me neither. Remember the conservative boycotts of Coca-Cola, Disney, and the NFL after they teamed up to cancel Georgia’s religious freedom efforts in 2016? These never materialized.

And now, fueled by Tucker Carlson, conservatives are threatening to boycott Bank of America for handing over to federal authorities vast swaths of private client information of individuals who happened to be near Washington, D.C. around January 6th. But realistically, few will close their accounts.

What conservatives should do instead is engage with corporate leaders who do the bidding of the political left.

Here’s a dirty little secret of the left’s success in getting corporations to carry so much of its water: Leftists don’t boycott either – they engage!

One way conservatives can get involved is to vote the bums out. I am not talking about political leaders; I am talking about Jack Dorsey and the rest of his sycophantic Twitter board members. I am talking about Apple CEO Tim Cook and the rest of that partisan board. I am talking about Bank of America CEO Brian Moynihan, who uses the bank’s finances to fund all sorts of left-wing social justice causes.

Every publicly traded company holds an annual shareholder meeting at which investors have an opportunity to vote for or against board members. But the numbers prove that conservative investors aren’t voting.

For example, at last year’s Apple shareholder meeting, Tim Cook and Al Gore respectively received 98 and 95 percent of the shareholder voting power of the votes that were cast. However, holders of approximately 30 percent of the outstanding shares of Apple stock didn’t bother to vote. So in reality, Al Gore received 67 percent of the vote, with 3 percent against, and holders of 30 percent of Apple stock didn’t cast a ballot. This makes it clear that left-leaning voters, who favor Cook’s and Gore’s use of Apple for social justice and Black Lives Matter causes, are engaging the franchise and voting on lockstep. Conservatives, on the other hand, apparently couldn’t be bothered to vote.

This voting pattern is not unique to Apple – it’s prevalent all throughout corporate America. For example, perhaps no corporate board member has done more to censor conservatives than Facebook’s Sheryl Sandberg, yet she received 99 percent of the votes at the company’s 2020 annual meeting.

Imagine what would happen if conservative shareholders and red state pension fund managers all started voting against board members of the far-left companies that are corrupting the culture. Perhaps some business leaders would decide it’s no longer worth doing the woke left’s political bidding and focus instead on improving their respective companies. What a novel idea.

Justin Danhof is general counsel for the National Center for Public Policy Research and director of the center’s Free Enterprise Project.

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