‘The World Turned Upside Down,’ A 2021 Revolutionary History Lesson


Arthur Solomon

On October 20, 1781, British General Gen. Charles Cornwallis surrendered his troops at Yorktown, Virginia, effectively ending the Revolutionary War. Some history books say that as the defeated troops marched their musicians played a tune called “The World Turned Upside Down.”  There are scant historical facts supporting that story.

But history will accurately report that in 2021 in the U.S. the world was really turned upside down as many segments of Big Business, historically in tune with the conservative politics of the Republican Party, broke ranks and at least temporarily sided with GOP moderate and liberal facets of the political arena. Historically, Big Business speaking out against Republicans is revolutionary.

Surprisingly the leader of the business revolt against the Republicans was Major League Baseball, not exactly a bastion of liberalism, when their commissioner, Robert Manfred, decided to deprive Atlanta of the All-Star Game after restrictive voting laws were enacted  by the Georgia legislature. Considering how few African-Americans are in the major leagues in contrast to the National Football League and National Basketball Association, the decision to move the game to Colorado was a surprise to many. But whatever the reason for the move it ignited among other businesses a movement to defend voting rights and democracy. And for a change Major League Baseball deserves cheers instead of jeers.

Quickly following baseball in publicly supporting voting rights and condemning anti-voting efforts in Georgia and throughout the U.S. were a bevy of major U.S. corporations. As I write this on April 13 companies that have publicly decried making it more difficult to vote thus far include Merck, Coca-Cola, Delta, BlackRock, Porsche, UPS, Mercedes-Benz, Microsoft, Bank of America, Cisco, Citigroup and American Express. In total, more than 100 companies have spoken out against the restrictive voting law. Joining them were major law firms.

In 2018, Democrats won control of the House of Representatives as many former GOP voters were fed up with the antics of a totalitarian-inclined and historically pro-racist Republican president. In the 2020 presidential election, even more former GOP voters decided to retire the totalitarian-inclined former President Trump and elected Joe Biden as well as voting to give Democrats control of the Senate.

As voters become more moderate to liberal the conservative Republican voter support is declining. Only among the professional GOP politicians, those who hold elective office, is the attempt to hold back the tide of change evident.

But even a few very conservative GOP lawmakers are taking stands that would have been unthinkable a few years go. In his Wall Street Journal April 13 “Capital Journal” column, Gerald Seib said starting a few years ago, and spurred by the economic downturn caused by Coivid-19, some Republican senators are backing legislation to help working class families. His examples include Sens. Marco Rubio, Mitt Romney, Josh Hawley and Tom Cotton. “In Many respects,” says Mr. Seib, “this movement is shattering traditional conservative economic positions.” The questions I have are how these senators will act once the current situation has improved.

But the most surprising aspect of “politics 2021” has been the actions of Big Business. Unlike the far right elements of the GOP supporters and the far left facet of liberal adherents, Big Business is in the forefront of defending our democracy. That’s a welcome change. These businesses are true patriots, not the self-proclaimed ones that stormed the Capitol on January 6 attempting to overturn a free democratic election or a deranged former president who keeps insisting that the election was stolen from him. 

If I had sufficient funds, I know how I would invest my money. It would be divided among all the businesses that have stood up for democracy. Those companies deserve the support of citizens who believe that the only way to keep a democracy is to have free and fair elections.

The Unspoken PR Tenet: Bad News Is Good News for Our Business By Arthur SolomonAbout the Author: Arthur Solomon, a former journalist, was a senior VP/senior counselor at Burson-Marsteller, and was responsible for restructuring, managing and playing key roles in some of the most significant national and international sports and non-sports programs. He also traveled internationally as a media adviser to high-ranking government officials. He now is a frequent contributor to public relations publications, consults on public relations projects and is on the Seoul Peace Prize nominating committee. He can be reached at arthursolomon4pr (at) juno.com or artsolomon4pr@optimum.net.