Until recently, such tactics were unthinkable in America. When Ukrainian business managers told employees how to vote, President George W. Bush rejected the election as illegitimate. When the Armenians made factory workers stand at incumbent's rallies, Bush criticized the elections as undemocratic.
Such intimidation used to be illegal in the United States. Then the Supreme Court, with its Citizens United ruling, decided it's okay. Now we're hearing a number of reports about CEOs threatening their employees into voting for Mitt Romney.
- Cintas CEO Scott Farmer emailed an anti-Obama screed to the company's 30,000 employees.
- Jack DeWitt, CEO of a company that's thriving under Obama (and even received government money), sent a newsletter to his employees telling them to vote for Romney.
- The Koch brothers (no surprise there) sent propaganda packets to 45,000 Georgia-Pacific employees, telling them their livelihoods could depend on the election and the company supports Romney.
- David Siegel, the billionaire founder and CEO of Florida-based Westgate Resorts, sent an email to his employees that included veiled threats to fire them if Romney lost. But he admits his company is doing better than ever ... under the Obama administration.
- Arthur Allen, ASG Software Solutions CEO, emailed workers hinting their jobs could be at stake if Obama wins.
An employee whose boss tells them hot to vote may still ignore this advice in the privacy of a voting booth. What they won’t do, however, is display a button or bumper sticker, write a letter to the editor, or be seen attending a rally of the opposing party. This strikes at the very heart of democracy. Elections are only “free and fair” if voters are free to speak out, write in, and publicly support the candidate of their choice, without fear for their livelihoods.Be very, very disturbed.
This principle is not only enshrined in international standards; it is a fundamental norm of American democracy. When the Founders set about designing the world’s first democracy, they were particularly concerned that employees might be subject to the undue influence of those who controlled their economic fate.