When You’ve Lost Brands, You’ve Lost America
Let us pause to consider what an extraordinary moment we’re in.
If you’re of a certain age — ours or older, at this point — you’ll recall what a slog South Africa divestment was: Krugerrands, Sun City, years of effort to isolate apartheid from world commerce.
It ain’t just Major League Baseball. It ain’t just Georgia homies Delta, Coca-Cola, and Home Depot, either. Salesforce? Target? Uber?
Companies are rushing to get ahead of the curve on this one. And Josh Marshall at TPM has what we think is the correct understanding: “Consumer-facing corporations are most sensitive and responsive to economic dynamism, disposable income and growth.”
It’s the old line about brands wanting your loyalty when you’re young, because you’re unlikely to switch over the decades ahead. Combine that with a younger management — and much younger educated workforce — and you have everyone skating to where the puck is going, to invoke another B-school commonplace.
Which brings us to the first part of this extraordinary moment: Traitor-class Republicans whining about Woke Capitalism and Corporate Communism. Wait, aren’t these the folks who applauded the rights of businesses not to put two dudes atop wedding cakes? Are you saying they’ve been hypocrites all along, advocating free speech only when it’s to their advantage?
Heavens! We might need another vaccination for this.
And really, if they want to revoke baseball’s legal monopoly, who are we to gripe? Heck, they could go after publicly funded stadiums while they’re at it.
But hey, there’s no wokeness about this — c’mon, Uber? — just cold cynical calculation, the kind corporations are supposed to do. They’re all eyeing their “addressable market”, and deciding that aging racists aren’t part of it.
Which, funny thing. is what politicians are supposed to do. That’s the source of all the Centrist blather, that you want to appeal to the widest swath of voters to get elected and stay in office. But centrism doesn’t work if you’re in a position to exclude part of the market from voting in the first place. That’s how tyranny works — cooking the books, to keep our metaphors aligned.
Problem is, the folks you exclude from voting are still there. And still buying stuff. And — this one is new — still making noise.
We didn’t have social media during divestment days. We definitely didn’t have it during Jim Crow: The Original Series. Shit gets out now, and fast. Which is also why corporations are rushing to get on the right side of history before someone catches them otherwise.
Mind you, this one’s very specific — we don’t expect to see “Have a Coke and Defund the Police” ads anytime soon. And we don’t recall much Corporate Resistance when the despots were in charge just a few months ago.
But! There it is. Uber could just shut up and pay other people pennies to drive, after all. Instead, the algorithm says Take a Stand.
And that’s what’s really extraordinary.
Where this goes, dunno. For all the noise, we’re not expecting a Georgia Divestment movement to take off and endure. But we’ve been saying forever that nothing’s gonna change until there’s broad awareness of the shit going down, and if there’s one element of American society that knows from awareness, it’s Brands.
Don’t anger the Brands, Republicans. You won’t like them when they’re angry.