Big business and GOP have a mutually beneficial relationship — but why do the party’s favorite victims keep voting Republican?
Something amazing happened when conservatives deciding that the biggest problem in America today is that gay people can buy things with money: Big business rose up and helped quash conservative overreach. Apple’s Tim Cook help lead a backlash that soon included Social Justice Warriors™ like Walmart and NASCAR.
This logically led to people wondering why business leaders — who are generally socially liberal and well aware that the American economy does better when a Democrat is in the White House — don’t use their awesome influence for good more often.
It’s great that Apple’s Tim Cook, who happens to be gay, lent his voice to the protest against the Indiana law. But if Apple would pay the federal taxes it owes, we could vastly expand preschool programs nationwide. If corporate America would join the fight to restore the Voting Rights Act, the bill in Congress might have more than one Republican supporter (Wisconsin Rep. James Sensenbrenner still stands alone). If businesses punished the rightward drift of the Republican Party by withholding campaign contributions, we’d see more action on hiking the minimum wage and expanding infrastructure (two issues that used to be bipartisan), and maybe even fighting income inequality.
There’s a simple answer for this. It’s this chart:
In the early seventies — as the middle class was at the peak of its economic and political power — big business decided it needed to take a much more active role in lawmaking. This began the tradition of donating to both parties and nurturing the careers of anyone who backed lower taxes for the rich and fewer regulations for businesses. These policies are at the core of Sucking Up Economics, which has been enormously successful. The richest of the rich have gotten richer in America than they have anywhere else in the world. And possibly richer than they have at any time in history.
And no one benefits from this redistribution upwards more than the super-managers who, through financialization that began in the early 1980s, have turned corporations into ATMs for super wealthy.
Same-sex marriage seems like such an inevitability now that many Republicans are trying to figure out how to back out of the issue, while others are trying to figure out how to turn the fight into a way to deny rights to LGBTQ people who can still be fired just for being LGBTQ in most states.
As promising as the backlash to Indiana was, we should anticipate a situation much the current dilemma we have with reproductive rights. In blue states LGBTQ equality will become unquestionable. In red states, it will barely exist, with local Republicans continually devising more ways to undermine it.
This will not alienate big business from the GOP because most executives live in blue states or big cities that resemble blue states. And the benefits of Sucking Up economics or too powerful to resist.
You know who else isn’t leaving the GOP?
Workers — especially white male workers — who lack college degrees, even though these workers have been brutalized by Sucking Up economics.
You know who else isn’t leaving the GOP?
Seniors who have been the greatest beneficiaries of Democratic policies like Medicare, Social Security and Medicaid.
The budget recently passed by House Republicans savagely cuts services for Americans with “low and moderate incomes.” Among those who could be hardest hit — we can’t say for sure because the numbers are purposely vague — are the 10 million low-income seniors who rely on Medicaid to be able to afford their Medicare deductibles and premiums. But don’t worry, they also cut the estate tax — which only affects the richest .2 percent who inherit over $5 million — to ZERO.
You can see why business executives — and the many, many rich members of Congress — love this. It guarantees their kids’ kids’ kids won’t have to work and provides them with a great way to avoid taxes while they’re alive.
But what isn’t clear is why poor workers and seniors would go along with it?
Republicans may play dumb and seem dumb when they trigger a backlash as they did in Indiana. But the fact that they’re able to trick people they’re harming or want to harm into voting for them — or not voting against them — proves their political genius has to be feared, dissected and copied.
(Thanks to Mark Price — a great follow on Twitter — for pointing out the top incomes chart above.)
[Photo by Gage Skidmore | Flickr]