What’s wrong with the Republicans

A blogger named Brandon Finnigan had a thought:  What if the Republican Party broke with Wall Street and K-street and became the party that opposed corporate bailouts and subsidies?

Such a policy would be popular.  The rank and file of both political parties want to see the too-big-to-fail banks broken up and financial criminals prosecuted [1].   I, for one, would be pleased to see the Republican Party become the advocate for the property-owning middle class, just as I would be pleased to see the Democratic Party become the advocate for wage earners.

RepublicanpartylogoBut there are structural reasons why both parties go against the wishes and the interests of their core supporters.   One is the structure of campaign finance, which means that, ordinarily, no candidate can run for office who is not acceptable to the richest campaign contributors.

Political scientist Thomas Ferguson says that voters may decide the elections, but they only get to choose between candidates that have been screened by the monied interests.  If this is an exaggeration, it is a small one.  Recent decisions by the Republican-dominated Supreme Court make this even worse than it has been.

Along with this is that government regulators and congressional representatives who serve the corporate interests well are guaranteed good corporate jobs when they leave public service.

Both parties are subject to the need to please campaign contributors and to the attraction of well-paid post-political jobs.  But the Republicans have a special problem.

Many Republicans sincerely believe that there is something admirable, in and of itself, about getting rich, no matter how the riches were acquired.  And they also believe that there is something contemptible, in and of itself, about being poor, no matter what the reason for poverty.  They agree with Mitt Romney that 47 percent of Americans are parasites, even when they are among the 47 percent themselves.

Democrats who serve corporate interests have to pretend to be something they aren’t.  This isn’t true of Republicans, or at least much less true.  John McCain, Mitt Romney and Ted Cruz, unlike Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton, are what they seem to be.

A return by the Republican Party to the principles of Theodore Roosevelt or even Dwight Eisenhower would be a good thing.   Making it happen is easier said than done.

LINKS

Can Anti-Corporate Populism Save the GOP’s Electoral Fortunes? by Brandon Finnigan for The Federalist.

Eric Cantor parties in Hamptons, campaigning for Wall Street job by Terence Cullen for the New York Daily News.   The rewards that await a top pro-Wall Street congressman.

I was poor but a GOP die-hard: How I left the politics of shame by Edwin Lyngar for Slate.

[1] Finnigan didn’t specifically propose breaking up big banks or prosecuting financial fraud, but I think these things are consistent with his idea of free-market populism.

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