The Administration

Google, Starbucks and Lyft: The new voice of resistance

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And on the eighth day, he triggered a constitutional crisis the likes of which this country has not seen since the heyday of Richard Nixon. Then, on the tenth day, his actions became so reckless that they evoked comparisons to Nixon’s “Saturday Night Massacre” at the nadir of the Watergate scandal.

Give Donald Trump credit. In barely a week as president, he accomplished something it took Bill Clinton 573 days, Barack Obama 936 days, and the two Bushes more than a thousand days each to reach: his Gallup Poll negative rating rose above 50 percent.

{mosads}In the span of a few days, President Trump has gone from having the most powerful (tweeting) thumbs in the world to being all thumbs. What will those thumbs wreak in week two?


By seeking to impose a deeply unpopular immigration ban on Muslims, Trump has managed to give his ever-expanding opposition an empowering message (“No!”), an overarching strategy (oppose Trump at every turn!) and emphatic support from an unexpected ally: corporate America.

It’s not just the Silicon Valley companies, Starbucks, and Lyft joining the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) in trying to thwart the ban. Trump’s order is so universally despised that it’s stirred opposition from Goldman Sachs, Ford and Koch Industries, too.

When Charles and David Koch join forces with the ACLU, a Republican president ought to recognize that he’s messed up. Bad.

Companies that a few days ago were more than willing to meet the president halfway have now been given permission to stand up and be counted against him. President Trump has received a rude awakening: Corporate America has put its allegiance to American values ahead of their allegiance to him. 

Corporate leaders, many of whom were born abroad or are the children or grandchildren of Americans born abroad, understand that we’re a nation of immigrants. They’re committed to a multiethnic society and a diverse workforce — not to mention the rule of law. Companies don’t tolerate bullies or bullying in the workplace either.

Lyft, to its great credit, moved right away, pointing out that much of its workforce is made up of hardworking Muslim immigrants who would be hurt by the travel ban. Uber tried to thread the needle and waited too long in criticizing the order. It instantly drew the ire of customers and a #deleteuber hashtag that is going viral that it never wanted to see. 

Silicon Valley behemoths Microsoft, Apple, Google and Netflix led the way in deploring the order, releasing data that documented how the travel ban would unfairly disrupt the lives of hundreds of their Muslim employees and hurt the companies’ ability to recruit talent, both abroad and in the U.S. They were ready to challenge the order’s legality and rationale — which put them far ahead of the administration’s chaotic implementation of the ban.

Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella assailed the order “as an immigrant and as a CEO.” Google CEO Sundar Pichai ordered dozens of Google employees traveling overseas to return to the U.S. rather than risk detention at airports. 

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said that the ban would “make all Americans less safe by diverting resources, while millions of undocumented folks who don’t pose a threat will live in fear of deportation. … We are a nation of immigrants, and we all benefit when the best and brightest from around the world can live, work and contribute here.”

But it was Apple CEO Tim Cook who best captured the gravity of the moment by quoting Dr. Martin Luther King: “We may have all come on different ships, but we are in the same boat now.”

Much of Corporate America is now standing shoulder-to-shoulder with Muslim refugees and the millions of people around the world now worried about the perils of “traveling while brown.”

Corporate America is quickly becoming the voice of resistance and realizing that they are better off criticizing President Trump than embracing him. That calculus — made in the span of 10 days — is as historic as it is powerful. No matter how unpopular the Vietnam War or how distasteful his behavior during Watergate, Corporate America for the most part stood behind Richard Nixon.

Today, Corporate America has become not just a loud and growing voice — it’s a vehicle for opposition to the president. It’s discovered that the most powerful brand is courage — speaking truth to power.

It is a staggering development with profound repercussions for the future of politics and business in our country.

…And on the eleventh day, he did what?


Richard Levick, Esq., @richardlevick, is Chairman and CEO of LEVICK, a global communications and public affairs agency specializing in risk, crisis and reputation management. He is a frequent commentator on television, radio, online, and print.

The views of contributors are their own and are not the views of The Hill.

Tags Apple Barack Obama Bill Clinton Donald Trump

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