Last week's furor over the version of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act approved in Indiana and awaiting only the governor's signature in Arkansas was illuminating. Once again, the contemporary left demonstrated that it values conformity, not tolerance. Indeed, the left is now committed to using the full power of the state and the culture to secure approval of what was controversial only a few years ago and unthinkable a few decades ago.
Even more interesting, though, is what brought about the surrender to the left in Indiana and Arkansas. On April 2, CNN Money ran an article by Charles Riley about Marc Benioff, the CEO of Salesforce. Benioff was one of the most outspoken opponents of the Indiana law, threatening to pull investment from the state and offering to provide monetary assistance to employees who wanted to leave the state because of the new law. Riley quoted Benioff as stating, "This is a really important point that, you know, CEOs have a lot of power and control on investment in states and we want to invest in states where there is equality. One thing that you're seeing is that there is a third [political] party emerging in this country, which is the party of CEOs." One would think that CEOs like Benioff would be satisfied with the two parties they now substantially control, but even the small possibility that ordinary Americans might be able to enact laws displeasing to him is more than Benioff can bear.
Even more interesting is the fact that The New York Times applauds the rise of the party of CEOs. In an editorial on April 3, the Times opined that "Big corporations like Walmart, Apple, Salesforce.com and General Electric and their executives have done the right thing by calling on Indiana and Arkansas to reject 'religious freedom' laws designed to give businesses and religious groups legal cover should they deny services to gay couples."
But the Times wants even more from progressive plutocrats like Benioff. Big corporations "should refuse to finance the campaigns of lawmakers who want to deny civil rights to gays" and they should also "make clear that they want lawmakers in all states to pass anti-discrimination protections for lesbians, gay men, bisexuals and transgender people." Indeed, the Times noted with approval that dozens of Silicon Valley companies have already banded together to demand such legislation.
In other words, Big Business and Big Media are now openly colluding against Middle America. So far, no one running for president in either party has seen fit to take note of this dangerous combination, much less offered to resist it. If one were to do so, he would be pleasantly surprised to discover how many Americans there are who don't want to sign up for Marc Benioff's party of CEOs.
Thomas Piatak is a contributing editor to Chronicles: A Magazine of American Culture. He writes from Cleveland, Ohio.