Talking Points

The myth of 'woke capital'

So much for "woke capital."

In April, Comcast responded to controversial new Georgia voting restrictions with a strong statement in favor of democracy. "Voting is fundamental to our democracy," the company said, adding: "Efforts to limit or impede access to this vital constitutional right for any citizen are not consistent with our values."

Maybe not that inconsistent. The Washington Post reports that Comcast has made a $2,500 campaign donation to Georgia Attorney General Chris Carr, an enthusiastic defender of the new law. That's not really a surprise: After the Jan. 6 insurrection, a number of big companies announced they would pause their contributions to Republican members of Congress who voted against certifying Joe Biden's victory in the 2020 election. Many — among them American Airlines, Ford, GM, Tyson Foods and UPS — have quietly resumed their giving. Toyota only backed down after it became the target of TV ads highlighting the company's GOP donations.

It's not been so long since this spring's corporate response to the Georgia legislation — in particular, Major League Baseball's decision to move the All-Star Game out of Atlanta — provoked a Trumpist Republican backlash, raising fresh doubt about the GOP's longstanding alliance with big business. Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) inveighed against "woke capitalism." Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) even supported a union drive by Amazon workers — not because he's a labor supporter, but because it and other companies "are allies of the left in the culture war." And J.D. Vance, a Republican running for the open U.S. Senate seat in Ohio, opined on why and how corporations should be made to pay for their wrongthink.

"If you cannot go after the pocketbook of these people, if you cannot make them pay, then you are accepting defeat," Vance told an audience of conservatives in May. "It's that simple."

But the new round of corporate donations to Republicans is a reminder that despite occasional nods to social justice politics, corporate money and support will eventually flow in the direction of power, even if that power is used in unseemly ways. This is not just an American phenomenon: Despite anti-democratic crackdowns by Chinese authorities, Hong Kong's status as a leading financial hub remains firm. Capitalism will never be woke.