I know politics do tend to creep into this blog from time to time. I readily admit it is difficult to keep them out, particularly if you are passionate about one thing or another. However let it be said that I offer you, dear reader, the ability to answer anything you find offending as long as it can be read in a family setting.
That having been said, I have been musing on major corporations’ leadership holding forth on political issues. It seems to be happening more and more these days. Whether its Coke, or Delta Airlines, or Nike, or My Pillow, or any one of the social media gazillionaires, or Chic-fil-et, or the head of Amazon, they just can’t seem to keep their political opinions to themselves.
But, you say, they are individuals and should be free to say what they will. Yes, I say, but they also have a responsibility to their brand, and those who buy it, to their fans, so to speak, to represent them on the world stage, all of them.
Most probably live in a bubble west of the 405, in Silicon Valley, in Seattle, Boston, the upper East Side, or within the beltway, and all their friends believe as they do so naturally, they believe that everyone believes believe the same. But as we learn in elections, fully half of the people don’t. Sad but true.
We went to dinner years ago with a friend and his wife in a trendy restaurant in Brentwood. I looked up and noticed Jane Fonda was sitting nearby. My friend, whose politics could best be described as somewhere to the right of Attila the Hun, glanced at her and said, “I can’t stand her politics, but won’t miss any of her movies. She is a great actress.”
I was a little surprised by his reaction. I had listened to him bemoan politicians of all stripes and their failings and the like. But then I realized that the politicians he disliked were politicians, not actors, or heads of corporations, or entrepreneurs, or smart folks who provided stuff I like. Politicians deserved his rancor, from his point of view, because they actually acted on their beliefs and those acts affected him.
That same friend told me the other day that he thought Jeff Bezos should be elected King. All because of the wonders of Amazon. He feels that the online store is one of the greatest things on the internet. He, a software engineer, believes that the company can do no wrong, and is reshaping how we do business. I’m sure he also feels that Bezos’ politics are anathema. But he looks as Bezos through a lens as to what he has accomplished, not his belief system.
Its true that large corporations give to all sides in political fundraising. They want to be on the side of the winner no matter who it is. Boycotting one company or another because some bozo is for or against your bozo is, for me, a nonstarter. It has taken me a lifetime to figure it out, but I like the taste of a cool Coke now and then, think Delta is a great airline, enjoy my Nikes, love to follow Linkedin, and even Twitter now and then, and live daily on Amazon. I have never tasted a Chic-fil-et, but that’s because I’m not a chicken fan.
I would prefer if these CEOs kept their politics to themselves, but frankly, my response has become, “so what.” Pass the coke, its hot outside.