Editorial

What Mike Huckabee’s tweet reveals about private companies and their political involvement

“I’ve decided to ‘identify’ as Chinese,” said former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee in a tweet on April 3. “Coke will like me, Delta will agree with my ‘values’ and I’ll probably get shoes from Nike & tickets to [Major League Baseball] games. Ain’t America great?”

Huckabee, who previously visited the John Brown University campus in 2017 for a chapel service and sparked protests among the student body, followed up with a second tweet that reads, “Coke will announce name change today to ‘Woke-A-Cola’ which has been approved by the Chinese Communist Party & by the leftist loons who the company bows to more than their actual customers. #CancelCulture.”

His comments on Twitter did not go unnoticed, as prominent evangelists, such as Beth Moore, publicly denounced the tweet, calling it “antithetical to the gospel.” In response to Moore, Huckabee said, “I don’t take Twitter or myself that seriously, but I do take gospel seriously.” 

Huckabee’s remarks are in reference to Georgia’s bill SB 202, signed by Gov. Brian Kemp on March 25, which will increase voting restrictions for Georgians. This new voting law has gathered criticism from the general public, including corporations like Coca-Cola and Delta Air Lines, both of which hold employment ties to the region.

After Coca-Cola publicly condemned the bill, some GOP lawmakers immediately requested the removal of all Coca-Cola products from an office suite, according to USA Today. Delta Air Lines CEO Ed Bastian stated that this law is “based on a lie,” and that it “does not match Delta’s values.” As a result, the hashtag #BoycottDelta trended on social media platforms.

Huckabee’s tweet is a reflection of the frustration GOP lawmakers have expressed during the past weeks about private companies and their political affiliations. However, what Huckabee fails to acknowledge in his public platform is that political support from private companies is not only a recurring practice on both sides of the isle, but also a practice rooted in capitalism and the free market.

After a tumultuous election year during a public health emergency, recent events in 2021, like the increase of anti-Asian racism in the United States and the Derek Chauvin trials for the death of George Floyd, have shown the extent of private companies’ involvement in politics.

On the one hand, corporations like Target pledged to fight for racial equity in 2020. On the other hand, there are companies like Walmart and AT&T that fund abortion bans, as per a Public Information report. As Huckabee criticizes these companies for “picking a side” on Georgia’s voting law, there are other corporate donors, such as Philip Morris USA and Home Depot, that have favored the politicians who wrote, passed and signed the bill into law.

It is not uncommon that companies, when pushed by their own consumers, will advance their own interests to avoid public relations crises. In fact, Delta Air Lines’ statement came after voting advocates threatened boycotts for making political contributions to Gov. Kemp.

Furthermore, even when political involvement is not fueled by public scrutiny, companies have the liberty to choose the side that adheres the most to their own values, which does not contradict the capitalist values we hold as a nation.

Furthermore, Huckabee’s comment on “identifying as a Chinese” in a time when Asian hate has increased due to the pandemic comes across as insensitive. As much as Huckabee argues that there is an added benefit to being an oppressed minority, companies have the social responsibility to address issues that affect their consumers or audiences. This is not privilege, it is cultural awareness.

At The Threefold Advocate, we encourage you to approach this topic, not only as a citizen, but also as a consumer. While we generally favor companies that adhere to the values we hold to be true, there are companies that will choose an opposing stance on the same issue, and we ought to be willing to engage in civil discussions that favor both democracy and the free market.

Contrary to Huckabee’s statements, companies choosing to either favor or oppose an initiative is not a cause for “cancellation” or boycott. This is a direct attack against freedom of speech that should not be tolerated from either side of the political spectrum.