The Corporate World Takes on White Nationalists and Culture Warriors

Members of yet another one of Trump’s business advisory groups have resigned following the president’s remarks about the events in Charlottesville last weekend.

Members of a Department of Commerce committee called the Digital Economy Board of Advisors have turned in their resignations after President Trump’s defense of white supremacists in Charlottesville…

Formed in 2016 under the Obama administration under Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker, the committee’s aim is to “provide recommendations on ways to advance economic growth and opportunity in the digital age.”

That adds up to four business advisory groups that have resigned en masse, along with a presidential arts and humanities panel. It is becoming increasingly clear that a major break is happening between this president and the corporate world because, as I wrote earlier, he crossed a line. While a sense of morality might be at play in these decisions, it is also the case that associating their brand with Trump’s toxicity is not something corporate leaders are willing to tolerate.

This move brings into focus a growing fissure within the Republican Party. Historically, corporate leaders have been one of the key members of the Republican coalition—along with military hawks and white evangelicals. But some of the cultural issues that define the attachment of evangelicals to the party are the very ones that are driving the corporate world away.

Until recently those tensions were more visible at the state level. For example, when Mike Pence was still the governor of Indiana, he experienced a powerful backlash from the corporate world after he signed a religious liberty law, which allowed businesses to discriminate against gays and lesbians. Similarly, the corporate world played a huge role in getting the North Carolina legislature to scale back their so-called “bathroom bill.”

Just this week, the Texas legislature ended its special session without passing a bill similar to the one that caused such a stir in North Carolina. You’d think that such a bill would be a slam-dunk in Texas. Here’s why it wasn’t:

More than 50 Houston business leaders, including heads of Texas’s top oil companies, signed a letter to Gov. Greg Abbott on Monday opposing controversial legislation that would restrict bathroom usage in government buildings and public schools based on the sex stated on birth certificates…

The business leaders join CEOs from 14 Dallas businesses, including AT&T, American Airlines, Southwest Airlines and Texas Instruments, who sent the governor a similar letter in July stating the legislation “would seriously hurt the state’s ability to attract new businesses, investment and jobs.”

Our current president is now getting the same kind of treatment from corporate CEOs over his racist remarks that Republican governors and state legislators have been getting over other so-called “cultural issues.” But that exacerbates a collision with what we’ve called “nostalgia voters,” or the “confederate insurgency” that has been ignited to defend against the very racial/sexual/religious changes that threaten their world view.

As we speak, that collision is resulting in Steve Bannon being ejected from the White House by the “grown ups” in Trump’s administration, who are concerned about how this is all unfolding. In other words, when it comes to the remaining power centers in the White House, the Generals and the Wall Streeters just got rid of the leader of the White Nationalists.

But apparently Bannon isn’t planning to go quietly. Rumors are that he is headed back to Breitbart.

Steve Bannon’s next moves will be all about the billionaire Mercer family. I’m told Bannon, who visited New York this week, met with Bob Mercer and together they will be a well-funded force on the outside…

A source familiar with Breitbart’s operations told me they would go “thermonuclear” against “globalists that Bannon and his friends believe are ruining the Trump administration, and by extension, America.

The Washington Post says that the decision to fire Bannon came from Chief of Staff John Kelly. Meanwhile, the president remains focused on the one thing that is important to him.

The president, meanwhile, had been upset about Bannon’s participation in a book by a Bloomberg News reporter Joshua Green, “Devil’s Bargain” — particularly the shared photo billing on the cover between Trump and his chief strategist.

Based on what we know about Trump, he longs for validation from corporate CEOs and military leaders. On the other hand, every fiber of his being resonates with the culture of grievance and resentment that fuels Bannon’s white nationalism. For someone with zero impulse control, even the CEOs and generals aren’t going to be able to keep a lid on that for very long.

Nancy LeTourneau

Nancy LeTourneau is a contributing writer for the Washington Monthly.