Retailers call on Trump to end the national chaos he created

Discussion
Source: Live stream of President Trump's Jan. 6 "Save America" Rally speech
Jan 07, 2021

Along with most American citizens, business leaders watched with horror yesterday as rioters stormed the U.S. Capitol following an incendiary speech by President Donald Trump in which he claimed that he had won the election and that leadership of the country was being stolen from him and his supporters.

Mr. Trump, in a speech shortly before rioters overwhelmed law enforcement authorities and began illegally occupying the Capitol, told those in attendance that his loss in November was nothing less than an “egregious assault on democracy.”

He derided his own vice president and Congressional leaders for meeting yesterday to perform their constitutional duty to read the Electoral College results certified by individual states. The President told his supporters that after his speech, “We’re going to walk down [to the Capitol] and I’ll be there with you.”

Many reacting to yesterday’s events from the business community deplored the conduct of rioters and those who had misled them into thinking they were engaged in a patriotic rather than seditious act.

The events at the US Capitol today were nothing less than an attack on our democracy,” the Retail Industry Leaders Association said in a statement. “At a time when our elected officials were meant to perform a routine yet powerfully symbolic function of the peaceful transfer of power, they were met with a violent mob, incited by the President of the United States and his agents.”

“It’s time for men and women of goodwill in government to denounce the conspiracy theories and cancerous rhetoric employed by those cravenly attempting to capitalize on political chaos. All those trafficking in sedition must be rebuked,” according to the group representing the nation’s largest retailers.

Jay Timmons, president and CEO of the National Manufacturers Association, issued a statement calling on Vice President Mike Pence to “seriously consider working with the Cabinet to invoke the 25th Amendment to preserve democracy.” Invoking the amendment with the support of the cabinet would result in Mr. Trump’s removal from office.

After the Capitol was stormed, Mr. Trump belatedly issued a video message to his supporters in which he asked them to end their action but not before falsely maintaining that the election had been stolen. “Go home. We love you. You’re very special,” he said.

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: How should retailers and brands communicate with their stakeholders about yesterday’s riot at the Capitol? Do you think it is the business community’s responsibility to call for Donald Trump to step down as President of the United States?

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Braintrust
"Right now, most retailers and brands seek civility, safety and order. At this historic moment, extinguishing heightened emotions is vital."

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34 Comments on "Retailers call on Trump to end the national chaos he created"


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Mark Ryski
BrainTrust

Yesterday was overwhelming. The world is shocked. This goes beyond making political statements or supporting a party, it’s about democracy itself. The business community has every right to express their views, just as many have, and ultimately it’s the collective will of the people that will compel Trump to step down.

Brandon Rael
BrainTrust

An assault on our nation’s capital is an attack on our democracy and all our citizens. Yesterday’s events were incomprehensible and shocked the world. In a nation where we face unprecedented challenges with the COVID-19 pandemic, our economy is in recovery mode, and millions of people are struggling to make ends meet, yesterday’s chaos was shocking on so many levels.

Retailers and the business community have always had to balance their companies’ needs with their political stances. However to remain silent in the face of significant injustices is to be complicit. We have seen retailers take a more serious stance on environmental, sustainability, and social injustice issues. In the face of political instability, retailers have joined the nation in calling for inspiration and leadership from the executive branch.

Paula Rosenblum
BrainTrust

I think it’s EVERYONE’s responsibility (corporate and personal) to express in the strongest possible terms that enough is enough. What happened in the Capitol was totally beyond the pale and disgusting.

By the way, he finally caved this morning and pledged a peaceful transition. I imagine someone finally threatened him with the 25th Amendment.

This was NOT cool.

Dick Seesel
BrainTrust

I agree with you, Paula, but I’m afraid “caved” is too strong a word given that Trump claims “the facts bear me out” regarding the election, and promises to carry on the fight. We are in for some more volatility, and I hope the Inauguration can happen without incident.

Nikki Baird
BrainTrust

I think every single person (and business) needs to look at themselves and ask both, what have I done that has made this possible, and what can I do now to make sure that my actions (or lack thereof) never enable something like this again. Someone manufactured and sold and delivered those Confederate flags. Someone manufactured and sold and delivered those “Camp Auschwitz” t-shirts. Just like Twitter and Facebook and YouTube are being forced to confront their enabling behaviors for spreading and connecting militias and seditionists, retailers with open marketplaces like Amazon, Walmart, and Etsy need to confront their enabling behaviors for the retail market for militias and seditionists. Statements are great, but it’s not just the government that has a responsibility to act.

Gene Detroyer
BrainTrust

Yes, Nikki — someone!

Dick Seesel
BrainTrust

Unlike in the past, business leaders have been ahead of the curve on issues of social unrest and political upheaval. It’s clear that the mainstreaming of the BLM movement (although not in all corners) is due in part to the supportive stands taken by public companies and sports leagues.

Businesses dislike instability — it’s bad for business, and for their customers — so there is some self-interest at play here, but also real alarm at the escalating rhetoric and actions since Election Day. After all, business executives are voters (and citizens) too. Not to be cynical, but money talks (especially to politicians), so the activism of groups like RILA and the National Manufacturers’ Association might help lower the temperature if responsible members of Congress follow suit.

Neil Saunders
BrainTrust

Retailers and brands should support the truth. That truth is simple. There was an election. Biden won it. Trump lost and, despite his accusations of fraud, no one – including Republican judges and Republican governors – has found any solid evidence to support those claims. As such, there must now be a peaceful transition of power. It doesn’t matter what your politics are, who you support, or how you feel about the result, the democratic process must be respected and upheld. The alternative is total chaos, anarchy and dictatorship. That is not the country I wish to live in and it should not be the country any retailer, or other business, wishes to operate in.

Jeff Sward
BrainTrust

I don’t think it’s partisan to say that we have a Constitution that has served us extremely well over the years. That Contstitution allows plenty of room for dissent and advocacy of differing points of view. It also establishes boundaries, and when those boundaries are breached it provides remedies. Those boundaries have indeed been breached, egregiously and on multiple occassions. So yes, I think everybody has a role and responsibility in holding elected officials accountable for their actions. The election and the subsequent challenges played out. The system worked.

Dick Seesel
BrainTrust

I totally agree, Jeff, except that I’m not sure “the system worked.” How did we get here? How did a number of members of Congress insist on feeding the fire of disinformation even after yesterday’s assault? How close did we come to one of the terrorists finding and harming the person they were targeting — Mike Pence?

Jeff Sward
BrainTrust

Thanks Dick — well put. Brevity did not serve me well here. “Worked” — sort of, kind of. Hopefully vocal businesses and individuals will return us to sanity, which includes the opportunity to disagree but ultimately demands that adjudicated outcomes be respected, even if disagreed with.

Lisa Goller
BrainTrust

Right now, most retailers and brands seek civility, safety and order. At this historic moment, extinguishing heightened emotions is vital. Companies can comfort stakeholders with messages of hope, belonging and willingness to move forward.

Consumers are watching. Many seek courageous, purpose-driven brands to speak up and denounce the chaos. For certain companies and industry associations, it makes sense to call out yesterday’s events as wholly unacceptable.

Gene Detroyer
BrainTrust

My first reaction was to say “carefully.”

But with further reflection, businesses have a responsibility to protect their businesses for all their stakeholders.

What we saw yesterday is a demeaning of The United States. In the end it seemed to turn out OK but, as I wrote on another platform a few days ago (before the embarrassment of yesterday), the world will never look up to the U.S. again. Even with a Biden presidency, as long as there is this portion of the country that would rather be Turkey, Hungry, Venezuela or North Korea, or Poland, the U.S. can not be trusted or lead the world in right and wrong.

A country’s standing in the world ultimately is reflected in the well being of the businesses in that country. My first reaction was wrong. “Carefully” was the wrong word. Businesses of every kind must take a stand.

Scott Norris
Guest

If the U.S. can show the world we have learned from this long experience – publicly exposing our flaws and where we did not live up to our ideals – and are making significant, permanent, good-faith efforts to improve, then yes the world will look to us again. While Beijing may point fingers, we all saw what happened in Hong Kong yesterday (and that deserves its own discussion thread). Earth depends on the U.S. to do better, get back up after it stumbles, and lead the way because there is no serious alternative.

Carol Spieckerman
BrainTrust
Carol Spieckerman
President, Spieckerman Retail
10 months 27 days ago

If anything positive came out of yesterday it’s a renewed awareness of the power of “dark money” and renewed scrutiny of corporate political support. You can’t say keep politics and business separate when corporations are funding politicians. The two are already linked. Before yesterday’s events, the Lincoln Project publically announced that its next-stage push will be exposing corporate donations and incidences in which corporate support for causes like Black Lives Matter are at odds with financial support for various candidates and PACs. Of course, retailers are in the mix. Beyond Trump, exposure and accountability are coming.

Al McClain
Staff

It doesn’t matter whether you are Republican, Democrat, or something else, too many business leaders have been deferential and enabling to our bully-in-chief for far too long. When the 25th amendment is being talked about regularly by serious people, you know this is too much. It was clear when he ran how he would act, and it has gone downhill from there. Unfortunately, many individuals have said, “but my 401K is doing so well…” and many business leaders have decided to aid and abet Trump because they thought he was part of the reason their companies were doing well. I don’t often agree with Lindsey Graham, but “Enough is enough. Count me out!” Business leaders need to continue to speak up, albeit tardily. PS: Fox, Twitter and Facebook should really look long and hard in the mirror and figure out if they want to be something besides conspiracy theory enablers when they grow up.

Cathy Hotka
BrainTrust

Unfortunately, NRF and NAM and others supported Republicans during the last election. This insipid hand-wringing now is way too little, way too late.

Paula Rosenblum
BrainTrust

Absolutely.

Joe Skorupa
BrainTrust

Totally agree. They were willing enablers.

Craig Sundstrom
Guest

Even more than that, let’s follow the chain of evidence back to its origins: one of the reasons Trump has the cult-like following he does is because of those in the business community who have aided and abetted his outlandish behavior. Years ago, when Macy’s attracted the scorn of his acolytes for pulling Trump-branded merchandise off their shelves, my thought was pretty succinct: “How do you avoid the backlash from no longer pandering to a thug? Simple: don’t do it in the first place.”

Tony Orlando
Guest

It is amazing after yesterday that the business leaders have come out of the woodwork denouncing the actions at the Capitol, and for the record it was a very sad day indeed. Why is it that you could hear crickets in the last 18 months, as major cities were burning to the ground with lootings and cops being shot, and yet the media was silent? The election is over, and Biden is our President very soon, and we will see what he does to bring us together, as they fought every single action from impeachment, to fake Russian stories, and attacking anyone who has a conservative viewpoint calling them racists, and homophobes. Let’s see what policies and other important issues our new administration has in store for us, as higher taxes on business and the Green New Deal will be pushed very hard in the first 100 days. Retirement is sounding pretty good in a few years, and I will always pray for my country and the heroes who protect our freedoms.

Dick Seesel
BrainTrust

I hope you’ll take this as a civil reply, as intended:

  1. I don’t think the Biden administration will be pursuing “radical left” policies (although a change in tax policy might be triggered by escalating deficits). The equity markets have certainly responded well since Election Day to the certainty that Biden is the next President, and the last two days suggest that they aren’t too troubled by Democratic control of both houses. (At this writing the DJIA has cracked 31,000.)
  2. Without getting into a debate about racism — conscious or unconscious — it’s hard to deny that the Federal response to BLM protests in D.C. was much more forceful than against yesterday’s rioters. (Even the June protests, when they degenerated into disorder, didn’t attempt to invade the Capitol.) Not every Republican (or Democrat) is a racist, but the President has injected this toxin into the American bloodstream in unprecedented ways.
Gene Detroyer
BrainTrust

I live in NYC. It ain’t burning. The demonstrators of last summer were not the looters, which in reality, was far less than the media portrayed. Maybe where you live your city was burning and being looted. I can’t talk to that. I wasn’t there. I was only here where I live and explore every day.