In a prime example, shortly after the Capitol riot, health insurance giant Cigna declared that the company would stop giving money to elected officials who “encouraged or supported violence” on January 6. Apparently the company hoped the public wouldn’t notice when it then doled out at least $30,000 to the Sedition Caucus within months of the insurrection. That’s quite a questionable commitment to democracy.
The increasing volume of corporate donations to lawmakers who voted against certifying the will of the people shows that these companies were never committed to standing up for democracy in the first place. Even as democracy continues to be in the crosshairs of powerful purveyors of the Big Lie, these CEOs would rather amass political influence than stand up for their customers, shareholders, and employees.
If corporations continue to reward those who engage in anti-democratic behavior, it only normalizes that behavior and invites more of it. Democracy had a close call — too close — and when lawmakers who helped instigate the insurrection don’t feel any real consequences for that behavior, there’s nothing stopping them from trying again.
Unfortunately, too many companies would rather tempt fate. These CEOs hiding behind flowery statements are not fooling anyone.
The last few years have made clear that democracy is not a spectator sport. Along with the rest of society, corporations have a responsibility to uphold our most sacred institutions, including our democratic way of life and free and fair elections.
We need to call on these companies to get back on track and recommit to their own stated values in support of democracy. It’s the least they can do for their customers and employees.
Some things should be bigger than the bottom line — especially a healthy democracy for all.
This piece was originally published on OtherWords.