Martin Longman over at Political Animal has been writing about how the business community might try to take back the Republican Party. He also mentions how they are interested in a third party. You know, all that Third Way bullshit. Now, I think from a practical standpoint, there is absolutely nothing to it. The business community may have backed away from people like Ken Cuccinelli, but that’s not because they are freaks and extremists; it’s because they see that they are unlikely to win.
But on the broader point, I agree: a lot of business leaders are unhappy with the Republican Party. The problem is that they always have been. In general, they don’t like the social conservatism on the right. They prefer the supposed libertarian leanings of the Republicans. So they want to pay less taxes and they want zero regulations. But they also want the crony capitalist side of the party. They want the government to grease the wheels of the market with safe transportation systems, a solid currency, and those lucrative government contracts. So they don’t want the Defense of Marriage Act and anti-abortion laws? Big deal! They’ve been grumbling about this kind of stuff for decades but it’s always been a small price to pay for all the goodies the Republican Party gives them.
I understand where Longman is coming from. Having a totally crazy, extremist Republican Party is bad for the Democratic Party. It is bad for America! And I would very much like to see the Republicans become more reasonable. But it just isn’t the case that this is going to happen via the “adults” in the party. I get so tired of talking about this, but would someone please show me how it is that the supposedly reasonable Republicans are anything but extremists? The business leaders may want immigration reform, but that’s about the only reasonable position they hold. And even there, they want reform that is almost entirely for the benefit of the business community. A decade and a half path to citizenship doesn’t show any concern for the actual people. And if the business leaders could get reform without any path to citizenship, they would.
What we are seeing is the same old attitude of the business elites: they want it all. That’s what Third Way is all about: a conservative movement without the rough edges. One where business interests don’t have to compromise on anything. Well, that’s just not the way that politics works. And the hybrid libertarian-crony-capitalist ideology that corporate America wants is really, really unpopular. So they are going to have to compromise with someone and there is no indication that they think the government shutdowns and Debt Ceiling threats are not worth everything that the Republicans will give them.
One of my main historical observations is that the New Democratic movement has destroyed both liberalism and conservatism in this country. And it did it by moving the Democratic Party far to the right on economic issues. The Democratic Party is now more pro-business than the Republican Party. Yet the business community hasn’t noticed this. There would be compromises if they moved over to the Democratic Party, but no more than there currently are with the Republican Party. But they continue to hang around in the Republican Party, hoping that it will move to the left on the issues they want them to. But if the party did that, it would have no constituency. If the Republicans moderated on abortion rights, they would lose half of their voters.
The United States has long been screwed up in the way we see business. Hollywood stars are not our aristocracy. Business leaders are. All you have to do is watch an episode of Shark Tank to see how we’ve been trained to see these billionaires as our betters—even as the people seeking money are clearly their betters. And this obsession with wealth and power hurts the wealthy and powerful most of all. It turns them into immature idiots who think the world is out of kilter if they don’t get everything they want. Well, in terms of the Republican Party, they will never get all they want. Their power is dependent on hating gays, women, and immigrants. And that’s a deal they’ve lived with this long, and they will continue to live it. Or they will as long as the Republicans continue to win elections.