.Free Enterprise Isn’t Free

A recent survey by the Leadership Now Project, a bi-partisan pro-democracy group of 400 corporations, reveals that 85% of business leaders believe a well-functioning democracy is essential to a healthy business climate, and 78% are concerned about the condition of American democracy today. Hey, no kidding.

Another way of looking at it is that 15% don’t care about democracy, and 22% are worried and don’t know what the hell to do about it. The other stuff we are all facing is disinformation campaigns managed by the Russians and others and threats of violence against poll workers and election officials, jobs that heretofore have never required riot gear, Glocks and armored cars. When one adds in some AI, the whole shebang gets really messy.

Business is often a late adopter of truth, justice and the American Way. It is tardy to recognize when shit is going wrong. And for one reason or another, business leaders are not the first ones to feel the effects of social decline. They live in nice, sheltered communities like Hillsborough, Piedmont, Woodside, Blackhawk, Ross, Kentfield, Tiburon and Belvedere. Once things erode too much, they learn that putting the country back together is tough.

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Standing up for democracy is not a partisan exercise. Give your people time off to vote. This is a major signal about how you feel about earning a living versus exercising the right to vote.

Educate your people about how to avoid the profligate political misinformation machine. Voters have never been barraged by bullshit as heavily as they are now. Remind your people to stick to established, legitimate information sources.

As a company, review your political spending and trade group memberships. Too much of what’s discussed in the business community right now is about responding to trends and rhetoric, and not enough is about hardcore, sustainable democratic values.

Americans today are no wiser than the Europeans who saw democracy lose out to fascism and communism last century. Our single advantage is that we can learn from their experiences. Let us not ignore the legacies of Mr. Churchill and Mr. Orwell.

Craig Corsini lives in Marin County.

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