The Republican brand is that they’re on the side of business. “Corporations are people, my friends,” uttered doomed 2012 presidential candidate, CEO-turned-Massachusetts-Governor Mitt Romney. At the time I assumed what he actually meant was, “Corporations are my friends, people.”
This has been the bottom line for the GOP: Business is their business. Even South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley defended the odious decision to have the Confederate flag fly at her state’s capitol grounds by saying, “I can honestly say I have not had one conversation with a single CEO about the Confederate flag.”
Democrats have been typecast as anti-corporatist job-killing commies and Republicans as Ayn Rand-fan big business friendlies.
The problem with these tropes is the world has left the Republican platform behind and they’ve yet to get the memo.
The first inkling of this recent phenomenon is media personality, Republican id, Donald Trump entering the congested 2016 GOP field. “When Mexico sends its people, they’re not sending their best; they’re not sending you,” Trump said in his off-the-cuff announcement speech. “They’re sending people that have lots of problems, and they’re bringing those problems with us. They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists. And some, I assume, are good people.”
This is not actually a departure from things other Republicans have said about Mexican immigrants. They’ve been a favorite froth-maker of the Republican base for decades. Rep. Steven King infamously called Mexicans drug mules; former Congressman Brian Bilbray said you can tell if people are here illegally by their shoes and Arizona Governor Jan Brewer erroneously claimed Mexican immigrants were beheading people at the border. Not to mention building a double-layered fence to quarantine the states from our southern neighbor is actually in the RNC’s 2012 official platform.
But then, surprisingly, in the wake of Trump’s comments, he’s lost his long-term business partners. NBCUniversal fired him from his gig firing celebrities in primetime and is also not airing his Miss USA and Miss Universe beauty pageants. Macy’s dumped his line of neck ties making it clear Trump’s diatribe doesn’t gel with their values. Trump is a businessman and his expressing what the GOP believes is no longer helping his business.
And then there’s the SCOTUS decision securing same-sex marriage rights in all 50 states which proved to widen the chasm between corporate America’s ideals and the increasingly antiquated Grand Old Party: Former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee called for insurrection. Yet-to-announce Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker called for a constitutional amendment. Jeb Bush said he believes in traditional marriage. Junior Senator Ted Cruz, who clearly played hooky during civics class, made the following embarrassingly stupid statement: “For those who say the marriage decision yesterday is the law of the land, it is fundamentally illegitimate, it is wrong, it is not law, and it is not the Constitution.” Failed CEO Carly Fiorina expressed concerns about religious liberty. Wikipedia plagiarist Rand Paul said the government shouldn’t be involved in marriage. New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, the latest on the heap, said he didn’t agree with how it was done. Jobs-jobs-jobs Texas Governor Rick Perry said he didn’t agree with the decision at all. Trump, of course, blamed it on frontrunner Jeb Bush because his brother appointed Chief Justice John Roberts (Roberts was in the minority of the 5-4 decision).
This is not actually a corporate-friendly message any longer. News Corp, parent of Fox News, has been offering same-sex partner benefits since 1999. By 2013, 65 percent of Fortune 500 companies offered the same. This year’s gay pride events saw floats and sponsors from the likes of Coca Cola, McDonalds, Walmart, Macy’s, Nordstrom, Gap, JCPenney, Goldman Sachs, Wells Fargo, Bank Of America, Chase, TD Bank, HSBC, Citibank, Capital One, US Bank, Mastercard, State Farm, Allstate and Metlife. That’s just to name a few. The SCOTUS decision prompted companies like Facebook, AT&T, American Airlines and Nike to launch ads celebrating equality. Oreo pictured their iconic sandwich cookie with rainbow-stacked filling. Jell-O, Kellogg’s, Target and Visa briefly included the colors of marriage equality in their logos.
Corporate America, it seems, has become more liberal and progressive on gay marriage than anyone running for president on the Republican ticket. For a party that likes to think of itself as listening to business leaders, they’re tone deaf when it comes to equal rights.
Consider this fun fact: Republicans canonized corporations and then corporations went about sanctifying gay marriage.
In the immortal words of Rick Perry, “Oops.”