The Tea Partiers were all very well and good for Corporate America. When there was massive anger at how the government had bailed out the banks, leaving millions of homeowners high and dry, the Koch Brothers wing of the US capitalist class was allowed to push forward and build the Tea Party into a real force. In fact, even before that, the Republicans had transformed themselves from being able to “fit all their members into one country club” into having an activist base made up of religious fanatics and others like them. This was necessary as a diversion away from the class issues. It was doubly necessary after the housing collapse, which is why the Tea Party was able to elect quite a few members of Congress and even a couple of senators.
Government Shutdown a Shock
But enough is enough. The federal shut down was bad for profits, and the Tea Party fanatics just wouldn’t listen to reason. They have to go. As Gerald Seib, chief Washington correspondent for the Wall St. Journal writes in today’s WSJ: “The October government shutdown, however, may prove to be a tide-turning event. Business leaders openly pleaded with Congress to avoid a showdown over raising the nation’s debt ceiling—a fight they feared would disrupt financial markets world-wide—and urged lawmakers to avoid an economically destabilizing government shutdown. They were stunned to discover, though, that their pleas fell upon deaf ears among several dozen tea-party warriors in the House who steamed toward a shutdown anyway, and were in some cases openly disdainful of the business community’s arguments.”
Seib describes how the mainstream of Corporate America is getting involved: “The tea-party growth also has emboldened business groups to become more forceful in backing Republicans they prefer in primary contests…. In just one example … Idaho business leaders are gearing up to defend incumbent Republican Rep. Mike Simpson after the conservative Club for Growth targeted him for defeat in favor of a newcomer seen as less business-friendly.” (What they mean by “business friendly” is fanatically dedicated to attacking all roles of the government, including those that even Corporate America supports.)
Change in Republicans
This is a change from the past, when , the mainstream of the US capitalist class has tended to simply donate money to the Republican Party and Republican candidates, but not get involved in primary campaigns. Now, they are being forced to change that.
Until recently, it seemed that the mainstream of Corporate America might shift more towards the Democrats, but this article shows that they will not abandon the Republican Party lightly. And what of the Tea Party fanatics? They will not be allowed to just disappear entirely. After all, Corporate America needs its more unthinking fanatics in a time of all-out crisis. And in between those times, it needs to keep that particular pot simmering on the back burner. In this writer’s view, their splitting away from the Republicans is not the most likely, but they will only be allowed to play a much smaller role.
One interesting sidelight is the poll that Seib cites showing that the US Chamber of Corporate Crime, also known as the Chamber of Commerce, receives a 71% favorable rating in polls. On the other hand, according to a recent Pew Poll, capitalism itself receives a 40% negative rating amongst people in the US.
Corporate America is doing its level best to ignore this anti-capitalist mood, but they have not been able to do so entirely. Here and there, they were forced to sit up and take notice of this mood’s most recent expression – the election of socialist Kshama Sawant to Seattle city council. More will develop along those lines in the future.