Big business: America’s new influential lobbyists

Jared Rogers-Martin

Indiana Gov. Mike Pence quickly learned that he’ll need more than a bandage amendment to heal the economic fallout over the state’s new religious freedom law after businesses issued threats to leave the state unless the original discriminatory language of the law was left out. 
 
The entity that corrected Pence’s vision on the issue is an unlikely hero: big business. Some small businesses like Memories Pizza came out in support of the religious freedom law, and the armies on social media buzzed their fury in response. 
 
But it was the big businesses that exchanged phone calls with the state’s leaders that resulted in the bill’s change. The NCAA let Gov. Pence know that it’s closely watching to see if the law changes, and Tim Cook at Apple Inc. expressed his displeasure with the language in the state’s new law. 
 
Market researcher Jagdish Sheth predicted this change, saying that consumer markets now focus on personal connections with customers. Corporations, with social media platforms, are tied directly to the views of their customers, and, as a result, they’re now forced into publicly supporting social values. Sticking to the wrong values puts you in danger of losing your customer base to more moral competitors.
 
The Indiana situation heralds a new angle to private-public relationships. Money speaks, so our new lobbyists are the large corporations that depend on us for their yearly profits and their employment numbers. They have the ear of government officials. It shows that, to change policy in the United States today, you don’t only need to write your senator, but also need to tweet your corporate representatives.