After a concerted effort to undermine democracy, Donald Trump still lost the 2020 Presidential election. In response, the Republicans in states such as Georgia and Texas have taken efforts to impose new voting restrictions. Republicans and their supporters are a numerical minority, so they rely heavily on anti-democratic tactics to win certain elections. But there has been pushback against these tactics.
In Georgia, pressure has been put on companies like Delta and organizations like Major League Baseball to respond to these restrictions. Democrats and those who favor democracy want these companies to use their influence to get these restrictions lifted. Republicans generally do not want them to do this. This raises the moral issue of whether corporations should be engaged in such political actions.
While it is appealing to argue that corporations should stay out of politics (because of the harms they have inflicted by capturing American democracy), the practical fact is that they are firmly embedded in politics and, at this point, can hardly make any plausible claim to political neutrality. After all, they are the major shapers of American laws and to profess that they wish to stay out of politics would be an absurd claim. They certainly want to avoid being involved in controversial politics, but they are already playing the political game and cannot claim that they are spectators rather than participants.
Companies that do not want to get involved in matters such as voting rights can argue that they have the moral right to stick to using their influence to shape American law and practices to maximize their interests while having no moral obligation to get involved in political disputes that are not in their interest. Making a case for this would be to argue that the individuals with the power in question have no moral obligations as citizens or people to address such matters. That is, it would be morally acceptable for them to do nothing. There are numerous classic arguments in ethics for just such a view, these tend to be arguments in favor of ethical egoism (the view that each person ought to act to maximize the moral value they receive) or what Ayn Rand called the virtue of selfishness.
There is also another reasonable counter: one could make a moral argument in favor of these voting restrictions and use this to argue that either these companies should not act against them or even take the view that far from acting against them, companies should support them because they are the right thing to do. This just requires arguing that undermining the right to vote in a democracy is a good thing—something people do believe but are rarely willing to admit.
From the standpoint of the corporations, the ethics of the matter is probably best assessed in consequentialist terms: the right action for a corporation to take is the one that maximizes benefits for the corporation (that is, the individuals who are in control) and minimizes the harm. This is a sort of corporate ethical egoism, since the scope is broader than the individual but is limited to those who are taken to matter morally by those controlling the corporation. On this view, the moral calculation will be very similar to the practical calculation of profit (or even identical). On this view, the right action to take is the one that will maximize what is of value for those who matter while minimizing the harms. Some of the rulers of the corporations have decided that they have more to gain and less to lose by taking a stance against these restrictions—they presumably have weighed the cost. Some have decided to act against the restrictions to pressure the Republicans.
This might end up being a miscalculation: while the traditional Republicans have been focused on benefiting the corporations and have sided with them, the newer Republicans (such as the QAnon crowd) have a different world view and are willing to harm corporations that act in ways they dislike. If a principle is in operation here, it generally seems to be that Republicans will act against businesses when they think that the businesses are interfering with their ability to gain and hold power. For example, the Republicans have professed to being very concerned about tech companies after these companies finally took some minor action against disinformation and, well, fascists. Because of this, Republicans in Georgia and other states might be willing to accept the economic damage in return to keeping laws and policies they think will allow them to gain and hold power. Other states will certainly be happy to accept these companies when they start fleeing these states, but they might not offer the sort of treatment that certain corporations would prefer. As such, some companies might recalculate—the cost of siding with the restriction of voting rights might be less than the cost of having to take action in these Republican controlled states. In any case, these corporations must be loathing having to consider opposing those who have long been their best minions and allies.
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