Should Businesses Be Punished for Their Social Stances? That's for Consumers to Decide, Not Government. As a conservative, I am opposed to many of my party's recent efforts to target businesses for their actions on social issues. Consumers should have the sole power to reward or punish businesses for their stances.

By Pat Brady

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Oscar Wong | Getty Images

Cancel culture has become a problem for many businesses in recent years — and the attacks have come from both the left and the right. Some Republican-controlled legislatures and elected officials have targeted private businesses simply because they disagree on social or political issues. As the party that takes pride in championing the free market and fighting against the dangers of cancel culture, Republicans must allow the market and consumers, not the government, to respond to the policy positions of private businesses.

Unfortunately, lawmakers in some of the reddest states have sought to pass legislation that erodes the free market and targets businesses for their beliefs and practices. This growing movement among conservatives directly challenges the party's historical commitment to limited government and free enterprise. For example, earlier this year, Florida tried and failed to pass Senate Bill 810, which would have prohibited state and local governments from doing business with major tech companies like Facebook and Twitter.

Related: Instagram Unveils Teen Safety Tools Ahead of CEO's Senate Testimony on App's Impact on Kids

Private companies have the right to set terms of use and enforce them

Florida's failed attempt to pass Senate Bill 810 was in response to decisions made by tech companies to bar conservative voices from their platforms, such as President Donald Trump, Steve Bannon and Alex Jones, for violating the companies' terms of service. While lawmakers may disagree with the decisions and ideologies of these businesses, it is well within the rights of a private company to set terms of use and enforce them accordingly. If right-leaning legislatures endorse the practice of retaliating against companies like Twitter for banning conservatives, left-leaning lawmakers will use the same tactics to unfairly target conservative businesses and platforms.

Another example of this government overreach can be found in the letter recently cosigned by over a dozen state treasurers and chief financial officers and sent to major financial institutions. The letter threatened banks seeking to lower their carbon emissions with the loss of hundreds of billions in combined contracts if they failed to halt their "ongoing and growing boycott" of carbon-based energy companies. Private businesses should be free to conduct legal business with any entity without government interference and should also be free to refuse to do business with any entity without fear of government retaliation.

Related: Can Crypto Scammers Be Stopped Without Government Regulation?

Unfortunately, this sort of retaliation is becoming all too common. Even before the letter was sent to banks, conservative lawmakers in Texas were passing a bill that leveled similar retribution for certain lending practices in the energy sector. Many of those same legislators took an additional step to dictate how private companies can engage with the firearms industry. The state legislature successfully passed Senate Bill 19, prohibiting state municipalities from contracting with major financial institutions that "discriminate" against firearm entities, meaning state municipalities would be barred from entering contracts with financial institutions that refused to engage in business with a company based solely on its status as a firearm entity.

I am a lifelong supporter of the Second Amendment, but granting protected class status to specific industries sets a dangerous precedent. Legislation like this undermines the rights of private businesses and allows the government to dictate the social and business decisions of private entities, which undermines the free markets that businesses and entrepreneurs rely upon for success.

The market punishes businesses that make the wrong choices

The belief that individuals, the economy and society are better off with limited government oversight has long been a pillar of conservative ideology. Private businesses should have the right to make their own rules regarding how and with whom they do business. As we enter the new year and legislative sessions for many states begin, Republican-controlled legislatures across the country should continue to uphold their respect for the free market and be wary not to succumb to cancel culture. After all, the market will naturally punish those businesses that make the wrong choices.

Related: Small Business Gets a Voice on Regulations -- Finally!

Wavy Line
Pat Brady

Entrepreneur Leadership Network VIP

Former Chairman of the Illinois Republican Party

Pat Brady is the former chair of the Illinois Republican Party and a former federal and state prosecutor.

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