Equality Act: Will GOP Follow Corporate Wokeness, or Trump?

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  • 09/21/2022

On Friday, House Democrats are expected to vote to advance one of their chief legislative priorities, the “Equality Act.”

The legislation has been a long-time objective of radical progressives who dream of using civil rights law to steamroll all Americans who refuse to affirm their ideological crusade. As many commentators have already pointed out, this bill would effectively accomplish that goal, turning American society upside down in the process.

This is understandably alarming to many conservatives, including President Trump.

According to a report earlier this week, the Trump administration has expressed serious reservations about the bill, concerned that it will “undermine parental and conscience rights.”

That the President is not afraid to draw attention to this is a refreshing change from years of GOP spinelessness on the issue.

They are exactly right - the “Equality Act” will do that and much more: decimating women’s sports and private spaces, shutting down religious charities, handcuffing doctors and therapists, and dangerously eroding the First Amendment.

That the President is not afraid to draw attention to this is a refreshing change from years of GOP spinelessness on the issue.

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Unfortunately, however, the President’s opposition is no guarantee that Republicans will follow his principled lead. That’s because a different group of traditionally conservative allies - America’s corporate class - is enthusiastically backing the “Equality Act” and has mobilized to push it through at all costs.

A recent press release from the progressive Human Rights Campaign, for example, boasted that over 200 U.S. business had joined its coalition supporting the bill, representing “more than $4.5 trillion in revenue, and more than 10.4 million employees."

And in April, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce also threw its weight behind the legislation, enjoining lawmakers to pass it in order to “further extend the promise of equal opportunity that is the bedrock of the United States.”

[caption id="attachment_176641" align="alignnone" width="3729"] Adam Rippon at the 2018 Human Rights Campaign National Dinner.[/caption]

This kind of leftist activism from corporate America is nothing new, of course.

As I’ve written previously, the cause of spreading progressive values to the rest of American society has become something close to a religious obsession among our nation’s largest companies.

Over the last few years, Fortune 500 CEOs have begun to sound less like business heads and more like preachers for the Great Awokening, trumpeting the importance of living out the new cardinal virtues of “diversity and inclusion” and cursing those guilty of the vile sin of discrimination. Moreover, they have not shied away from bringing their considerable influence to bear on legislators both in Washington and in numerous states, pressuring them to instill this moral vision into law.

This development has brought the GOP, and the conservative movement, to an important juncture.

For decades, conservative Republicans have charted a policy path attempting to combine the interests of both corporate and middle America, championing business priorities such as lower tax rates and deregulation while also supporting cultural conservative causes - in theory, at least, if not always in practice. However, as the corporate class ramps up its campaign to marginalize and demonize the values of average Americans, it is becoming increasingly clear that this previous status quo is no longer tenable.

Trump has begun to break with some of the long-time corporatist orthodoxies of the GOP

Fortunately, President Trump is showing Republicans a new way forward. In his presidential campaign and since, Trump has begun to break with some of the long-time corporatist orthodoxies of the GOP - for example, eschewing an absolutist free trade stance in favor of one which puts the interests of American workers first.

In addition, he has strongly embraced a cultural conservatism, finally putting Democrats on the defensive for their radical positions on issues such as abortion. It is a formula which paid big dividends in 2016 and has the potential to do so again.

So which way will Republicans go? Will they bend to the will of corporate America, accepting a progressive takeover of culture as a reasonable price to pay for continued Big Business support? Or will they learn from the success of President Trump and look to build on his new populist coalition of workers, families, and people of faith?

Either way, this week’s vote on the “Equality Act” will be a telling sign.

Terry Schilling is the executive director at American Principles Project. Follow him on Twitter @pizzapolitico.