How deep is the rift between US business and the Republican party?

How deep is the rift between US business and the Republican party?

Sunday, January 17, 2021

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AS the United States wades deeper into uncharted waters, corporate America appears to have taken a brutally tough stance against President Donald Trump and the Republican party, in the wake of the January 6, 2021 insurrection at the Capitol.

The list of companies announcing that they would stop making political donations, but more specifically, to Republicans who challenged the electoral college count to confirm President-elect Joe Biden's election win, is growing exponentially.

Included are some major companies like AT&T, Delta Airlines, Walmart, JP Morgan Chase, Home Depot, Charles Schwab, Cisco, the US Chamber of Commerce, the American Investment Council, Investment Company Institute, and financiers like Deutsche Bank and Signature Bank which are big lenders to the Trump Organisation.

On top of that, Twitter, Facebook and YouTube have virtually silenced Mr Trump by suspending or banning him outright. Amazon, Apple and Google have cut ties with Parler, the messaging platform partial to the right wing, including Mr Trump's supporters.

The Republican party has long been held as the party of big business in the United States, sticking with the president even when disagreeing with him on some policies and utterances. But the storming of the Capitol, in which five people lost their lives, seemed to have been the straw that broke the camel's back.

Businesses, obviously worried about the potential impact on the economy, have blamed Mr Trump for inciting the frenzied crowds to stage the assault on the Congress while a joint session was underway to count the electoral college votes and threaten the safety of members, including Vice-President Mike Pence and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

“This thing was a little different. I mean, we had sedition and insurrection in DC,” the respected New York Times newspaper quoted Mr Jamie Dimon, chief executive of JPMorgan Chase, as saying. “No CEO I know condones that in any way, shape or form. We shouldn't have someone, you know, gassing up a mob.”

Delta chief executive, Mr Ed Bastian agreed: “For those members of Congress that were involved in helping to incite the riot and support the riot, there's going to be consequences – no question about it.”

An informal sounding of 40 top executives by the Yale School of Management, according to the Times, found that 100 per cent of them said Mr Trump was to blame and 96 per cent agreed with the House for impeaching him; 100 per cent backed cutting off funds to lawmakers who were part of the campaign to block the transfer of power; while 85 per cent supported his banning or suspension from social media platforms.

While corporate political donation is not much – a relatively small US$91 million in the last election season – the endorsement of big businesses is far more valuable. Of course, individuals, some of them billionaires, contribute far more to politicians.

But shutting off Mr Trump from his 88 million Twitter followers and 35 million Facebook friends is likely to be more injurious, and embarrassing, to the president, as it takes away his immediate access to millions of supporters.

Is this rift a final divorce or a temporary separation between corporate America and the Republican party? That is left to be seen.

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