Is retail giant Target the right corporation to run our country? If not, then which company or labor union would you nominate for national office?
If these questions sound strange, here’s the background: This week we’ve been considering the logical extension of the U.S. Supreme Court’s recent decision that corporations, unions, and other “associations of individuals” have free speech rights just like flesh-and-blood Americans. Just like you and me, corporations and unions can spend their money supporting or opposing political candidates. However, they have a LOT more money to throw around. Since they’ve been given such enormous new power by the high court, I suggested this week that we might as well let companies run for office!
Already, we’ve considered a host of possible candidates: Starbucks, Coca-Cola, Wal-Mart, United Auto Workers, and the National Education Association. (Scroll down on the right side for links to earlier articles in this series.)
Today, we’re targeting Target. The retail giant is now the 30th largest company on the Fortune 500 list. They have a diversity policy that is so liberal that a conservative would see red. “At Target,” says the company CEO, “diversity is much more than a goal or campaign. It’s a core value we integrate into every area of our business—from our suppliers, to our teams, to the shopping experience in our stores. We foster an inclusive culture that allows our high-performing and diverse team to drive innovation.”
Target consciously embraces diversity in all its meanings: personal style, age, race, gender, sexual orientation, and more. Its employee diversity program is called “The Strength of Many. The Power of One.” That would be a great tag line for any politician.
But the company’s celebration of diversity hasn’t stopped it from supporting anti-gay rights political candidates, according to press reports. The retailer was lambasted this year for donating $150,000 to a group that supports gubernatorial candidate Tom Emmer, who opposes same-sex marriage. Emmer’s in a dead heat coming into next Tuesday’s election.
How does Target explain this clash of values? Easy. It’s the company’s job to shape the political environment to make it more favorable to its own private business interests. Target says it has given money almost evenly to both sides in the elections. Whoever wins, they’ve supported the winner.
Of course, a corporation or a union as a candidate for political office is a ludicrous idea. But we have to ask if the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to grant extensive free speech right is also a ludicrous idea. As the Target example shows, corporations have their interests in mind—and they can dig into very deep pockets to make sure they realize their interests.
American’s overwhelmingly oppose the high court’s Citizens United ruling, according to an ABC-Washington Post poll conducted this year. And, three of four want limits reinstated on corporate and union spending on campaigns.
How about you? Do you support the reinstatement of limits?
Or, should we just take the next step and let corporations and unions run for office?
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