By Andy Puzder for RealClearPolitics
In the former Soviet Union, almost every decision people made – from their work to their hobbies to what they dress – has been politicized.
Personal choices that were not sufficiently collectivist for Communist Party officials negatively impacted careers, housing, and meals, which were allotted through political attraction and socialist virtues rather than merit.
Some decisions, like starting a small business or storing additional groceries, can lead to gulag or firing squad. The personal was the political.
I am concerned that the US is leaning in this direction where many aspects of life are becoming politicized. Americans are more polarized politically than at any point in my life. The mainstream media, whose business model exploits and promotes the division, deserve a large part of the blame.
RELATED: Biden and the All-Star Game: A Wild President Pitch?
American companies, however, are on the verge of unhinging a sledge hammer that divides us by increasingly and unnecessarily taking positions on controversial political issues.
Speaking this way threatens to turn their customers’ day-to-day decisions – including which sport they should watch, which soda they should drink, and which airline they want to fly – into political decisions.
Check out the recent actions taken by some Georgia-based companies, including Delta and Coca-Cola, against the state’s new law, which brings voting practices in line with other states.
Support conservative voices!
Sign up for the latest information Political news, insights, and comments are delivered straight to your inbox.
Your statements of objections generally imply that the provisions of the law, including the requirement for ID to vote, are racist. This is the most politicized charge to be brought in the country today.
Major League Baseball pulled the all-star game out of Atlanta to demonstrate its opposition, stating the move was “the best way to demonstrate our values as a sport”.
Americans should expect this kind of spin from politicians, including President Biden, who called the law “sick” and claimed it “makes Jim Crow look like Jim Eagle” – and shouted at by impartial commentators and at four for his misrepresentations became Pinocchios in the Washington Post.
RELATED: Biden’s Bait-and-Switch Presidency
But companies should have a higher standard than politicians anyway. Through these rigorous positions, companies put consumers in the enviable position of making a political statement – or worrying about making one – by purchasing their products.
No wonder, according to a new poll by Rasmussen, two-thirds of Americans are against companies that take political positions. The survey also found that 59% of respondents agree (versus 17% who disagree) that these business actions fuel national political division.
Where does this trend end? As soon as companies comment on some policy issues, they are encouraged to comment on almost all of them.
At this point, the silence itself becomes a form of political expression, suggesting that the company does not agree with the activist position on a particular issue. Businesses would be well advised to stop commenting on divisive policy issues before we reach this tipping point.
These companies are playing a dangerous game. By defying the law, they are alienating a significant portion of their customer base who support it. Ask the NBA or the NFL how a position that offends a significant portion of their customers affects TV audience ratings.
I hope the days when people with different political views can enjoy a hometown team victory with thousands of other fans are not over without worrying about the team’s positions on the political issues of the day.
Of course, viewers can watch other sports – or none. Travelers can fly with different airlines. And cola drinkers can quench their thirst in hundreds of different ways. That is why playing politics jeopardizes shareholder value, which is the main responsibility of a CEO.
RELATED: Left Vs. Right to “Vote” Bills – Explained
But it’s not just retirees and family savings accounts in the crosshairs. These policies affect the economic future of employees, suppliers and communities.
MLB’s All-Star Game Withdrawal is draining around $ 100 million of economic activity from local small businesses, including black-owned bars and restaurants. Countless Americans will now refuse to get involved in the game in protest and rob advertisers and sponsors.
CEOs who assume they are speaking for their entire company should consider the potential collateral damage from these stakeholders, many of whom take the opposite view.
There is one exception, however. If the proposed government guidelines have a direct impact on businesses, CEOs should educate policy makers, the public, and their staff of the consequences firsthand.
For example, Delta and Coke were asked to explain how President Biden’s proposal to increase corporate taxes would affect their ability to hold their own against foreign counterparts like Air Canada and Red Bull, who face lower tax burdens.
This country is still more united than the division’s merchants in the press and in Washington, DC suggest.
But when the union of activities like a coke and watching the ball game begins to split politically, it is time to stop, catch your breath and reverse course. As a nation, we stand on the banks of the Rubicon in terms of political division.
If this trend continues, with companies coming under pressure and taking a stance on political issues, we will unfortunately not be able to go back.
Political safe havens that bring people of all backgrounds and political beliefs together are then infected, threatening America’s unique social harmony and largely responsible for its success.
Syndicated with permission from RealClearWire.
Andy Puzder is the former CEO of CKE Restaurants, a board member of the Job Creators Network, and the author of Capitalist Comeback: The Trump Boom and the Left’s Conspiracy to Stop It.
The opinions expressed by contributors and / or content partners are their own and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Political Insider.