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Tipsheet

Interesting Polling on Companies Getting Involved in Social and Political Issues

The Wall Street Journal is out with a new national survey, and one of the headline results is good news for the many millions of Americans who are sick of companies stomping into political and cultural fights -- almost always at the behest of activist progressives.  In recent years, left-wingers have used the bombardment of corporate actors as a central piece of their pressure campaign, demanding that large companies (whom they otherwise generally despise) take sides (their side, that is) in high-profile, politically-charged battles.  Time and again, we've seen these corporations and large organizations capitulate, on matters ranging from LGBT issues, to "voting rights," to social and racial "justice," to abortion, and beyond.  

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Some of the most well-known examples include Major League Baseball, Delta Airlines, Coca Cola and others wading into the debate over Georgia's commonsense election reforms, which opponents disgustingly and dishonestly framed as modern-day 'Jim Crow'-style suppression.  MLB, Delta and Coke ignorantly embraced the demagoguery, and ended up with egg on their faces.  Conservatives may never get the apologies that ought to be issued.  Then, of course, there was Disney's public opposition to a parental rights law in Florida, which prompted an unexpected policy counter-punch from Gov. Ron DeSantis.  The current DEI and ESG wars are also rooted in the Left's designs to deeply and systemically politicize corporate America.  The fresh Journal survey finds that by a large margin, Americans do not want to see companies engaged in these conflicts:

A substantial Americans would like to see companies selling their goods and services, not some agenda dictated by an aggressive activist class.  Fully 80 percent of Republicans support corporate neutrality on these social issues, whereas a majority of Democrats favor companies taking public stands.  It seems independents side more with the Republican view, and even many Democrats are skeptical of their own base's position.  That being said, these pressure campaigns too often work because many corporate leaders seem more worried about running afoul of loud, relentless activists (who often leverage employees inside companies to join the lobbying efforts) and younger Americans than vaguely annoying most consumers.  Some of these CEOs and boards foresee more immediate pain in standing up to the coordinated mobs than just 'staying out of it' -- which most Americans prefer -- so they take the less popular, but also less headache-inducing path.  

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That's the dynamic that works in the Left's favor, and it's why groups like the New Tolerance Campaign are unfortunately necessary in this day and age.  If 'progressives' are going to use bullying tactics to impose their agenda upon society via large corporations and organizations, the bullying cannot only flow from one end of the political spectrum -- especially if the conservative, 'bully them into neutrality' mindset represents a quieter but sizable majority of Americans.  It's also why, despite a number of misgivings that have been expressed by a number of conservatives, DeSantis' surprise counterattack on Disney has largely been welcomed by right-leaning voters.  While the companies-out-of-social-fights data point in the Journal poll is a welcome one, some of the other results strike me as increasingly bleak for American society:

The share of Americans who say that having children, involvement in their community and hard work are very important values has also fallen. Tolerance for others, deemed very important by 80% of Americans as recently as four years ago, has fallen to 58% since then. The only priority the Journal tested that has grown in importance in the past quarter-century is money, which was cited as very important by 43% in the new survey, up from 31% in 1998.  Aside from money, all age groups, including seniors, attached far less importance to these priorities and values than when pollsters asked about them in 1998 and 2019. But younger Americans in particular place low importance on these values, many of which were central to the lives of their parents.

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As the story notes, there's a striking generational gap on these values:

The survey finds that a slight majority of all Americans (52%) call themselves only slightly religious, or not religious at all, compared to a 47 percent minority who are "very" or "moderately" religious. "Some 23% of adults under age 30 said in the new survey that patriotism was very important to them personally, compared with 59% of seniors ages 65 or older. Some 31% of younger respondents said that religion was very important to them, compared with 55% among seniors," the Journal reports. "Only 23% of adults under age 30 said that having children was very important." As I note in the tweet, it's simultaneously widely known that younger generations of Americans have experienced an explosion of anxiety and depression, as bedrock societal values recede and are replaced with...what, exactly?  We have a distressing number of Americans who seem unmoored from any traditional sense of belonging and meaning, as our ideological and partisan fights grow fiercer than ever.  We are not in a particularly good or healthy place.  There's also a yawning partisan divide at play:

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Only about a quarter of self-identified Democrats say patriotism, religion, and having children are "very important" to their values. Prizing community involvement is low across the board. The only thing Republicans and Democrats seem to agree upon is money.  American exceptionalism is dying: "Some 21% in the survey said that America stands above all other countries in the world, a view that some call American exceptionalism. Half said that America is one of the greatest countries, along with some others. The share who said other countries are better than the U.S. rose to 27%, up from 19% when the same question was asked in 2016," the story relays.  More people believe other countries are better than American than believe we are the best country on earth. Only one-in-five respondents say they're confident future American generations' lives will be better than their own, with 78 percent saying they're not confident of that.  I'll leave you with some additional results from the survey, which are not all doom and gloom:

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Another chart displaying Americans' views on diversity, acceptance, and equality is here.  One more thing -- this methodological caveat is worth pointing out.

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