The perils of corporate virtue signaling

The Washington Post reports, with obvious dismay, that American Airlines, Cigna, Aflak, and other corporations are once again making campaign contributions to legislators who opposed certifying Joe Biden’s victory in the 2020 election. The corporations in question stopped contributing to these members after the events of January 6 this year.

However, with the possible exception of Cigna, they didn’t say they would never again contribute to any of them. The companies merely paused their contributions. Thus, the subtitle of the Post’s article — “The flow of money is a sign that corporate America’s promises were temporary” — is nonsensical. The “promises” were “temporary” on their face.

American Airlines said it would pause all donations from its corporate PAC and that “when we resume, we will ensure we focus on a bipartisan array of lawmakers who support U.S. aviation, airline workers and our values, including bringing people together.”

I can’t think of many legislators in D.C. who are “bringing people together.” But Rep. Sam Graves is the top Republican on the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, which is even better. America Airlines’ PAC has therefore seen fit to contribute to his war chest.

The company said:

While there is no lawmaker with whom we agree about every issue, we are committed to working with members of both parties to advance policies that will positively shape the future of our company, our team members and the communities we serve.

This makes sense. Unless you’re a partisan Democrat or a partisan rag (to cover the Washington Post’s case), there’s no reason why a vote not to certify the result of a disputed election should trump all other issues. A number of Democrats in the House objected to certifying Trump’s victory in 2016. Should they, too, be cut off from campaign contributions from major corporations?

American Airlines’ mistake was to signal its “virtue” by pausing contributions in the first place. Having done so, it now faces blowback from the left — egged on by the Post’s report — and perhaps ongoing resentment from the right.

The Post, I assume, hopes to fuel blowback against corporations that have resumed contributing to Republicans who objected to the election results. It notes that Toyota, which was making such contributions again, reversed course after “facing an outcry last week over its support for Republican objectors.”

If the 2022 election goes the GOP’s way, Toyota will probably regret this move. Perhaps it will reverse course again.

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