The Daily Escape:
Winter, Stowe VT – photo by John H. Knox
On January 6 2021 America’s professional managerial class felt fear for the first time since WWII. These corporate titans saw our democracy stumble. And they didn’t like it, since they have a vested interest in the US continuing to be a stable democracy. They rely on the rule of law to allow them to operate in a predictable and rational environment. That environment was jeopardized last week.
For the moment, the USA is effectively without a leader. We’ve heard no public briefings from the White House, FBI, Department of Homeland Security, or the Justice Department about what happened on January 6, or what has happened since. We’ve heard only Trump say he isn’t responsible for the attack on the Capitol.
The acting Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security resigned. The Defense Department is being run by a Trump lackey. Outgoing Secretary of State Pompeo is trying to blow up the entire Biden administration by recognizing the independence of Taiwan.
America is crying out for leadership, and a broad coalition of CEOs stepped up to silence Trump. These CEOs acted faster and more effectively as a check on the president’s power than Congress could, or would. A new overt corporatist political force is emerging, and Facebook (excuse the pun) is its face. Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg said:
“You cannot call for violence…the risk to our democracy was too big. We felt that we had to take the unprecedented step of an indefinite ban, and I’m glad that we did.”
Twitter followed suit with a permanent Trump ban.
For years, many people, including Trump, have used these platforms to undermine democracy. Since before the November election, they have used these platforms to attempt to nullify the results of the November election, and install Donald Trump as an illegitimate president. From Jonathan Last:
“Had this attempt been successful, it would have been the end of American democracy and, consequently, the failure of the rule of law. This would have had dire consequences for Twitter, Facebook, and every company in America because it would have meant that they were no longer subject to the predictable process of the rule of law, but rather…the pleasure of a strongman.”
Despite the whining on the Right, there is no right of free speech on private platforms like Twitter, Facebook and Google. Those companies built, and now operate their platforms, and they are available to most for free. That doesn’t imply that individuals or corporations must be free to say anything they want while using them.
The people who run Twitter and Facebook are just as qualified to make judgments about what’s useful for a healthy society as any Right Wing politician. Anyone who says that these platform companies must simply let anyone join their platforms, and then allow them to do whatever they want, are simply wrong.
We’ve learned last week that when a sitting president threatens the political stability of the country by inciting an insurrectionist mob that storms the Capitol, corporate America will do everything in its power to restrain him.
This week, the tech giants including Facebook, Google, Amazon and Twitter worked in concert to decapitate Trump and the extreme Right.
Other corporations pulled political funding from all legislators who supported overturning the result of November’s free and fair election. Several major companies on Monday said they planned to cut off political donations to the 147 members of Congress who last week voted against certifying the results of the presidential election. Other major corporations said they are suspending all contributions from their political action committees. This is a sign of corporate America’s growing unease with the election falsehoods promoted by Trump, along with the violent attacks he encouraged.
All of this happened before the House could even schedule a vote on impeachment.
It also highlights the inaction by the Senate. For the first time in the last ten presidential transitions, the GOP-led Senate is not confirming Biden cabinet members prior to the inauguration.
There will be no head of the CIA, no Homeland Security secretary, Attorney General, Secretary of State, or Secretary of Health and Human Services when Biden takes office. This, despite being hip deep in a domestic terror attack during a pandemic that’s killed nearly 400,000 Americans.
And everyone should have a problem with the fact that the New England Patriots’ head coach Bill Belichick, by refusing Trump’s offer of a Medal of Freedom, is showing more moral leadership than any Republican Representative or Senator.
Between the demonstrations we saw last summer, through the Georgia Senate runoff election, political activism is on the rise across America. That now includes major corporations.
There will be no going back.