It’s been reported that the corporations (including big law) that had sworn off donations to politicians who fed the attack on the government have gone back to donating. Why? Do they hate America? Wait, that should be one question: Why do they hate America? Corporations that give money to scoundrels, why do you hate America?
The truth is, the Republican party is too big and failed. Remember “Too Big to Fail?” During the last financial crisis? The idea was that certain banks and financial institutions couldn’t be allowed to go bust. If they did, it would blow up everything on the planet and everyone would be ska-rewed.
Same song, different verse: the wealth centers pay politicians to draft and to block laws they believe will help or hinder their wealth. The ambitions of a minority of Republican politicians to turn the country into a dictatorship can’t change the basic math of corporate accountants: buying politicians (via campaign contributions) is cheaper than paying more in taxes or regulation. Buying new lines of business by legislative capture is cheaper than competing for it in the market. (Here cheaper refers to the limited-scope costs of particular firms, not to the costs and benefits of society. It’s a blinders-on measure used by businesses to avoid the obvious: being assholes is almost always the wrong move.)
Their calculations do not include the cost of American democracy folding. Most of them do plenty of business in dictatorships around the world, and they’re comfortable working within those circles, despite the fact that they’ve only been able operate in those countries because they could rely on the United States to keep the international order stable enough.
The attack on the government in January had the makings of a wake-up call for corporations, for mainstream Republicans, and for the media. But the Siren’s song of business-as-usual overpowered the alarm noise. They’ve quickly reverted to fighting good governance in favor of their own bottom lines.
The media, of course, made similar analyses for different reasons. They typically want to focus on the party in power, they benefit from pitting politicians against one another, and they have advertisers with business interests of exactly the kind that require donations to Republicans. The media tends to serve advertisers first, if only because they need the revenue.
I recently wrote about the media being the real opponent for Democrats in 2022 (diehealthy.org: 20 November 2021: “The Democrats Face the Media in the 2022 Midterms”), and that’s in-line with the mainstream media being something more of a printing press for the powerful than anything resembling a fourth estate. Same as it ever was, but it still feels like between the pandemic and the Capitol attack, more soul-searching would have happened.
And I’ve also written in the past months about the idea of a BNP—Brand New Party (diehealthy.org: 6 February 2021: “How Moderate Conservatives Can Ditch the GOP”), including the need for it and how it could work. There was also a piece about how it will require a sympathetic media to help it get the word out (diehealthy.org: 2 October 2021: “The Need for Good Right-Wing Media”). The too-bigness is part of the reason. That once you’ve built up a certain market for policy-wielders, you can’t retire the old one without having a new one to replace it. And all the logistics that entails.
Think about it: it’s not just the politicians, but the campaign businesses, the pollsters, the media, the lobbyists, the law firms, the carbon fuel industry, all tied together because they have interests to pursue. There are also state Republicans and local Republicans who have depended on the brand, and in at least some cases are closer to what Republicans used to be. They aren’t as many as we’d like, they don’t like the baggage their party has to carry, but they can’t all go independent and be without a mascot.
Even outside of the politics, there is business development, there’s networking, caterers, event spaces, all sorts of businesses that need some kind of second party to function. To use the Republican trope, the party has provided them welfare, and they are now dependent on it for survival or at least to thrive.
For platform reasons, the Democrats cannot take up the mantle of pro-pollution, of anti-taxation, and so on. Their own voters would revolt. While blocs of Democrats do champion tax cuts for the wealthy, rent-protection for Pharma, and so on, the overall caucus believes in good governance. They aren’t about to turn into a bunch of hucksters to appease the Koch brats.
And neither should a BNP, but it would provide enough of a counterpoint, a difference, an alternative to the Democrats. On many issues, they should represent a compromise position that the current Republican party cannot. On a select number, they should represent the same as the Democrats: the same as the American people minus the ridiculous Republicans. Those issues, the BNP abandon an untenable position and only seeks to improve on the Democrats’ policy. But they would also offer stability, agreeing with Democrats on the basic structure of government, agreeing to free and fair elections, campaign reforms.
And more importantly, it could provide a safe sink for at least some of these big businesses to show their investors they aren’t ceding the precious profits to Democrats, aren’t leaving the gates of their wealth unguarded. Where the Republicans simply seek to obstruct, the BNP could actually negotiate better bills that would still fulfill some of what the donors want while delivering a better government.
The Republican party is a failed party, but they will remain and will not reform until there is real pressure to do so. The businesses that rely on them won’t do the right thing here. It’s not who they are as businesses. The need for a BNP remains clearer than ever.