Institutions and Platforms
A few days ago the CEO of Expensify, an expense reporting company, sent out a blast email endorsing Joe Biden. The email went, not just to the CEO’s friends and contacts, and not just to Expensify’s employees, but to all of Expensify’s customers, and to all of their employees—that is, to anyone who submits expense reports.
Some of those people might have been surprised at political spam from their expense reporting company. (But for Citizens United, would this be a felony?) And a few customers have dropped Expensify since, protesting the misuse of their email lists. But whatever happens to Expensify, the episode reminded me of a passage by Yuval Levin, on treating institutions as platforms:
We now think of institutions less as formative and more as performative, less as molds of our character and behavior, and more as platforms for us to stand on and be seen. And so for one arena to another in American life, we see people using institutions as stages, as a way to raise their profile or build their brand. And those kinds of institutions become much ha
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