Maybe it would enjoy obstructing Senate business, as he did. Or he might be able to teach it to play catch, or to laugh very idiosyncratically in a laugh comprised of a series of low heh’s all strung together. There were so many joys involved in being real, and he couldn’t wait to see what this new corporate person would try. It would call him Papa, and he would explain to it how to acquire mineral rights to all the stars.
He watched with great excitement as the corporation and its siblings began to take their first steps as people, communicating mainly in the form of large chunks of cash and occasionally extruding a lobbyist when someone tried to regulate them. He thrilled at the sight of them receiving their first tax break. It was a surprise; they hadn’t even asked for it.
His little corporation grew big and strong. “Papa,” he asked Mitch McConnell, “is it true that I am a person?”
“Yes,” Mitch McConnell said. “With all it entails.”
“And I may have political opinions too?”
“Of course,” McConnell said with a laugh, “as long as they’re correct!”
“Of course they will be correct, Papa!” the corporation exclaimed. “I am a corporation, am I not?”
It was good to watch the fledging corporate persons making their way through the world, spitting out cash donations here and emitting wince-worthy tweets there, just like people. But every so often a corporation would get a sort of puzzled look and gather itself together and try to make a political statement in a way that did not just straightforwardly involve the giving of money to Mitch McConnell.
One day, a large company decided to make a statement that involved the taking away of money from Josh Hawley. Just because he had tried to overturn the results of the election! Mitch McConnell shuddered, but he was sure his darling corporations would never do such a thing. Unthinkable!
But things kept getting worse. Each morning, it seemed, Mitch McConnell would look out the window and there was a corporation making a statement with words, and not with dollars. Or he would see a corporation asking not to be let off the hook for an emissions standard. People were hanging out with his corporations, developing feelings about them as “brands” and asking them to have opinions like people. He worried about the influence that social media was having on them.
If they were not careful, instead of simply loving them, Congress would take action against them. It would be no fun for them at all. Right now they had all the joys of personhood (giving money to Mitch McConnell) and barely any of the responsibilities of personhood (except giving money to Mitch McConnell). He tried to say something. “Stay out of politics,” he warned. “It’s not what you’re designed for."
“I’m not talking about political contributions,” he clarified quickly. Weren’t the PACs and Super PACs enough? Why did corporations now want to act just like everybody else and take principled stances on the controversial issues of the day — worse yet because unlike individuals who had the purchasing power of a thimble, they might actually influence decisionmaking? They were only supposed to donate in large quantities and otherwise sit there being decorative and undertaxed. What could be better?
But the corporations would not heed him. Hundreds of them gathered to protest voting restrictions, perhaps the only thing Republicans loved more than corporations. Mitch McConnell and his colleagues regarded these corporations with horror. Some of them didn’t even advertise on Fox News any longer.
“These corporations aren’t people!” Josh Hawley said. “They’re monsters! And it’s time to bust them up.”
Everyone felt sad. They loved their corporations very much, and they had not minded when they only conversed in money. Now, they had outgrown their welcome.
“But Papa,” the corporation asked McConnell, as Hawley crept up behind it with a hammer, “I am just doing what you said. I am just acting like a person.”
“Hush, corporation, and look at the tax breaks,” McConnell said.
“Isn’t this what you wanted? More corporations doing speech like people?”
McConnell did not answer. “Remember those simple times," he said, “when you just gave us money and we gave you tax breaks, and you didn’t try to take complicated stands using your words and your purchasing power? Those were good days. Just look at the tax break and don’t think about anything else."