Liberty, once lost, is lost forever. —John Adams
Lefties love to hyperventilate over things big and small. Let someone say something they disagree with and they attack. They ridicule that person’s opinion, impugn motives, belittle intelligence, question racial biases, and if all else fails, they’ll reach for the nuclear option of boycotts. How should an organization react when under siege by progressive? Susan G. Komen for the Cure and Chick-fil-A provide contrasting examples of the right and wrong way to respond.
Earlier this year, the Board of Directors for Susan G. Komen for the Cure voted to cease contributing money to Planned Parenthood. A firestorm erupted. Due to frenzied screams that accused Koman of bigotry toward women, the charitable organization caved and said they would reinstate their contributions. The entire episode hit home for my wife because she is a breast cancer survivor. Her immediately reaction was confusion and then resentment. She thought her contributions were going toward cancer research. Her resentment quickly morphed into rage when Koman reinstated their contributions to Planned Parenthood. Not only were they not doing what their name implied, they succumbed to bullying and compounded the travesty. She swore she would never contribute to Susan G. Komen for the Cure again.
The Wall Street Journal reported on August 9 that Susan G. Komen for the Cure announced that the president has resigned, and the founder of the charity will assume a new non-operational role. They are also looking to replace a number of other key positions. Why? Fund raising has suffered from the Planned Parenthood debacle. The duel actions manage to alienate people who supported the abortion agenda of Planned Parenthood as well as those committed to breast cancer research. Quite a feat. From any angle, the purging of the executive ranks seems justified.
Chick-fil-A caused another conflagration when its president Dan Cathy said on a radio interview that he supported traditional families. Although he never said he was against anything, he and his business were immediately branded as hateful, intolerant, and value-challenged—especially in the great bastions of morality called Chicago, Boston, and Washington D.C. Chick-fil-A did not apologize, equivocate, or explain. Cathy never claimed he was taken out of context. The result? Nationally, hundreds of thousands of people patronized Chick-fil-A on a day dedicated to the traditional American value of free speech.
Chick-fil-A stuck by their convictions and gained a host of new customers. Susan G. Komen for the Cure waffled and lost the respect of all sides.
Corporations seem especially susceptible to the bullying tactics of the left. The managerial elite fear being tarred as racist, sexists, or on the wrong side of any politically correct issue. Coca Cola and Walmart were called racist and boycotted for making contributions to the American Legislative Exchange Council which supports voter ID legislation. Coke caved within hours of a Twitter attack and Walmart issued a weasel-worded press release. When inappropriate remarks provided an excuse for Media Matters to instigate a boycott of Rush Limbaugh, carbonite.com canceled advertising on the show. Limbaugh made an apology, but continued to be unwavering in his opinions. He retained his number #1 ratings and secured new sponsors. In carbonite.com’s last quarterly report, the CEO admitted that abandoning Limbaugh had hurt earning more than expected.
On August 9, the Wall Street Journal also carried an editorial that said that consideration of Paul Ryan as Romney’s running mate is generating “sotto voce angst” from the GOP establishment. The establishment fears that democrats would do more commercials about throwing granny off the cliff. Ryan’s budget would become the primary election issue, not President Obama’s horrid performance in office. The WSJ editorialized that the House budget proposal will be a major issue anyway, so why not enlist its greatest defender. Besides, the Obama team wants to make the election about little things, and Romney ought to elevate the national debate to big issues—issues that matter. The Journal editorial board has it right. People are tired of cowardice in the face of bullying. People with the guts to speak the plain truth are becoming increasingly popular. For example, Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus has become a folk-hero for calling Sen. Harry Reid a “dirty liar” and sticking to it.
Americans respect people who unapologetically stand by their word. The lesson for candidates is to speak honestly and forthrightly. If they do, it’s more likely they’ll find themselves ensconced in the capitol or 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. The mealy-mouth need not apply.
James D. Best is the author of the Steve Dancy Tales and Tempest at Dawn, a novel about the 1787 Constitutional Convention. Look for his new book, Principled Action, Lessons from the Origins of the American Republic.