". . . and having done all . . . stand firm." Eph. 6:13


Republicans Spurn Corporate Donations as Woke Backlash Continues

June 22, 2023

It looks like everyday Americans aren’t the only ones boycotting Big Business. While companies take a beating for their woke policies in stores and restaurants across the country, another longtime ally has flat-out walked away: the GOP. More than two years after January 6, when CEOs made a spectacle out of cutting donations to Republicans, corporate America is facing an uncomfortable reality — the GOP wouldn’t take their money now anyway.

Back in 2021, people wondered if the relationship between Republicans and America’s business community would survive the spat. Was the post-election tension just a rough patch or the beginning of a “seismic shift?” Today, as red states go to war with titans like BlackRock and governors openly battle Disney and JP Morgan, the split has never seemed more permanent. And, unlike the timid GOP of the past, the Republican Party’s warrior class seems no worse for wear. If anything, ridding themselves of a two-timing corporate America has made the GOP stronger and more independent than ever.

Just this week, The Wall Street Journal shined a light on the enormous realignment that’s taken place where campaign dollars are concerned. When the mob pulled their contributions from the GOP, it sounded like a death knell for fundraising. On the contrary, experts say. That decision actually helped Republicans wean themselves off corporate dollars and tap into the grassroots’ frustration against woke CEOs.

“Republicans are now less dependent on corporate and industry PACs than at any time in the past three decades,” according to the WSJ analysis. “Instead, they are turning to smaller donations from millions of individuals who tend to be wary of big-businesses priorities.” And while the donations usually come in small denominations, the sheer number of people giving to the conservative cause is offsetting the punch that corporate America thought they had. 

“Gone are the days that Republicans are going to sit on the sidelines as big behemoths take advantage of the American people,” Senator Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) told the Journal. “We are going to hold them accountable.”

One of the most dramatic examples of this shift is House Speaker Kevin McCarthy’s (R-Calif.) war chest. In 2016, the Journal’s Brody Mullins points out, 40% of his campaign dollars came from business PACs. By 2022, it was less than 3%. Now, without those financial ties, he’s even more free to “castigate Wall Street for taking progressive political stands.”

Senator Josh Hawley (R-Mo.), who’s been outspoken about his frustration with Big Business, couldn’t be happier about the disentanglement. “I don’t see any reason to take a dime from these folks,” he said. “I’m not going to be beholden in any way to their agenda.” For too long, he argued, corporate America has “attempt[ed] to have it both ways. [They will] endorse these far-Left social policies, they will try to blackmail [red] states… but then they’ll turn around and come to Republicans asking for tax breaks, tax credits, and trade deals.” Good luck with that now, conservatives say.

If they’re going to attack our values, Senator Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) said, “They probably shouldn’t come and ask Republican senators to carry the water for them whenever our Democratic friends want to regulate them or block their mergers.”

Family Research Council President Tony Perkins couldn’t agree more. “Until America’s business community embraces — or at least stops attacking — the moral and social structure that leads to growth,” he wrote last year, “the Left can have them. And then, when their revenues implode because of the Left’s regulations and their profits evaporate over the Democrats’ tax-and-spend politics, maybe Big Business will come to their senses and realize how good they and their stockholders once had it.”

Not only has that extremism driven away GOP officials, it’s also triggered an unprecedented wave of consumer backlash across the country — a wave so devastating to brands’ bottom lines that CEOs are privately telling McCarthy they’re “doing their best to avoid speaking publicly about such topics.” Others are racing to rethink their political involvement, especially on the transgender issue that has become such “a lightning rod” for American consumers. 

Now, as the number of citizens who call themselves “social conservatives” rockets up to 38%, CEOs will have even more incentive to tone down their activism. 

Taken together, FRC Action Director Matt Carpenter warns, it doesn’t bode well for the Left and their woke allies. “Much has been said about the trend of working-class voters moving toward the GOP — and rightfully so. It’s changing American politics dramatically. As we saw in the most recent midterm elections, Republicans won non-college voters 54% to 42%, and Democrats won voters with college degrees 53% to 44%. This wasn’t always the case. Traditionally, union voters and working-class voters were firmly within the Democrat base. Making up 58% of the overall electorate, you can see how these voters are a juggernaut in American politics.”

“Given this shift,” Carpenter told The Washington Stand, “it makes sense that we would see the GOP move away from large corporate PACs as a result. The interests advanced by these PACs often do not represent the interests of this emerging working-class GOP. This will have huge ramifications in the years to come as GOP politicians are influenced more and more by small dollar donations from the grassroots rather than high-dollar fundraisers at fancy restaurants in Washington, D.C.”

In the meantime, the grassroots are proving to everyone to everyone: they’re a much bigger force to be reckoned with than Big Business. 

Suzanne Bowdey serves as editorial director and senior writer at The Washington Stand.