Opinion | Liberals, Stop Getting Cozy With Corporations

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A reasonable counterpoint: What choice do right-thinking liberals have? American democracy is badly broken — unresponsive, unaccountable, broadly disconnected from the will of the people. Decades of gerrymandering have fractured many voting districts to favor the right wing, and the results of the 2020 census may well advance Republicans’ redistricting strategy even further.

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Broad voter suppression laws of the same genus as the latest efforts in Georgia and Texas have opened a gulf between what voters want and what they’re even capable of asking for. And over the last decade, 10 wealthy donors alone have poured $1.2 billion into federal elections, while “super PACs” and other groups have spent $4.5 billion, with millions in dark money flowing legally and unaccountably into elections nationwide. You can vote for whomever you choose, but your choices are chosen for you by powers beyond your control.

But those powers, too, answer to some authority: capital. Just as workers can marshal the power they have over capital by going on strike, capital can leverage the power it has over governments by using capital strikes.

Occasionally, that kind of intervention can arrive as a welcome relief, especially when turned against countermajoritarian policies promulgated by legislators ensconced in crooked districts carved out to favor them.

So why not a marriage of convenience — at least a temporary one? For one: Capital is unfaithful. It can, and does, play all sides. Many of the courageous businesses that protested North Carolina’s 2016 “bathroom bill,” for instance, also donated to political groups that helped fund the candidacies of the very politicians who passed the bill. It isn’t possible to cooperate with capital on social matters while fighting them in other theaters; capital can fight you in all theaters at once, all while enjoying public adulation for helping you, as well.

Setting aside the fact that capital can in a single moment be both heroic and diabolical — Amazon wants you to be able to vote, but it would prefer if you didn’t unionize — it is, incredibly, even less democratic, accountable and responsive than our ramshackle democracy.

Capital rallies to the defense of democracy while aggressively quashing that very thing in the workplaces where its workers labor. It’s tempting, perhaps even satisfying, to call the government’s boss, but after the dressing down, you’re still just a customer, worth only as much as you can pay them or make them. That the jerks who’ve done their best to enervate our democracy are in the same boat as us is a cold comfort.

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