It seems as if public policy debate has moved from the congress and state houses to corporate board rooms and the actions of consumers.
A minority of eligible voters in the United States actually vote but everyone is a consumer of food and durable goods.
So the latest is Dick’s Sporting Goods (800 stores nationwide, according to the Wall Street Journal) is discontinuing the sale of AR-15 assault rifles. The business had already stopped in some of its stores but now says it will quit selling them altogether, it was reported.
This is happening of course in the wake of the mass shooting on Valentine’s Day at a high school in Parkland, Fla. in which 17 students and adults were killed by a young man with an AR-15 assault rifle he had actually purchased legally. And this came after a spate of such mass killings in recent years by perpetrators who primarily used high-velocity rifles aided by high-capacity ammunition magazines (sometimes referred to as clips).
Several large corporations have announced that they will no longer offer discounts to National Rifle Association members. I know some of them are saying that they are not taking a stand for or against gun control but are instead trying to stay neutral in the current debate over gun control. Seems to me that the best way to stay neutral would have been to never have offered the discounts in the first place. But that is just me.
Delta Airlines, headquartered in Atlanta, Ga., has dropped NRA discounts while claiming to be neutral. And for its efforts it has been threatened by some conservative GOP state lawmakers with having a major jet fuel tax break taken away from it. But Delta has a lot of pull in that state being that it is a major employer. And some are worried that any punitive action by the state could backfire by scarring away any possible location of a new Amazon facility there.
Now gun control is thought to be a liberal or Democratic Party issue. I don’t know what moderate Republicans really think on it — most have been scared silent by both the NRA and President Trump,whose position is generally anti-gun control but whatever he wants it to be at the moment — maybe a little gun control.
And now after I posted my original on this he has publicly chided GOP lawmakers for being too afraid of the NRA to enact some gun control — even though Trump still claims to be a friend of the NRA, just not one who will never disagree with the organization. For Trump I think that was pretty well put — that makes himself sound pretty independent. Of course Trump has the advantage in that he has no identifiable principles and seems to just like to tweak and tweet within the whole discourse on issues. But if some good can come of it, I suppose we should take good.
But on the other side of the political spectrum possibly, the National Football League is being abandoned by some supporters or sponsors in the corporate world over the action by some black activists among the players who go down on one knee in protest when the National Anthem is played. That apparently turns off predominantly the white working class folks who love their football and sometimes flying the confederate flag, whether they have any connection with Dixie or not or even know anything about the American Civil War — it’s just a symbol they like. Now I don’t watch football to any extent. I did happen to take in the Super Bowl this year and enjoyed it. And I have no intention of flying the Confederate Flag (the only ancestor of mine who I have heard of who was in the Civil War was supposedly a drummer boy for the Union side). But even I would be turned off by watching players take a knee during the National Anthem. Did they at the Super Bowl? I missed it if they did.
The point is, however, public policy is being debated in this way outside the halls of government.
There is no more powerful force in politics than the almighty dollar. But in a way it is democratic (small d, not referring to the political party) when those dollars are distributed by the people as consumers, or customers of the major corporations.