Gerald Seib, the Wall St. Journal’s “Washington correspondent”, described matters perfectly when he wrote: “Most business leaders don’t particularly like getting their hands dirty in political fights. So they have tended to support whatever candidates the Republican Party offered up, funneled money to party or outside groups to do the heavy lifting, and hoped for the best.
“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.” (WSJ 12/2/2013)
Brat vs. Cantor
As a result, major business groups like the Chamber of Commerce have stepped in to finance candidates in recent Republican primaries. They financed a series of establishment Republicans against Tea Party challengers, thereby ensuring their victories. A key election was held on Tuesday, June 10, where the second in command for Republicans the US House of Representatives, Eric Cantor, faced a Tea Party supporter, David Brat. Corporate America showered $5.7 million on Cantor, who had been considered the most likely to replace current Republican leader in the House, John Boehner. Despite raising only $231,000, Brat beat Cantor, thus throwing Republican plans into a tizzy.
Among other things, the Republican leadership has been trying to repair its relations with the Latino community. The huge majority of Latino voters today shun the Republicans because of their anti-immigrant position. Brat, however, campaigned against any sort of immigration reform, but he did it with an anti-corporate twist. “Eric Cantor… represents large corporations that want cheap labor,” he said.
How ironic to see a right-wing Republican appealing to the anti-corporate mood that exists! It shows the problem for the Democrats, also. At least in the case of these far right Republicans, they can be counted on to divide and weaken the working class. They can be counted on to oppose unions. So Corporate America, while it wishes it could control them a little more, doesn’t have any real principled objection to them. But a Democrat who would appeal to the anti-corporate mood? That is “class warfare” and must be stopped immediately.
One last point: The last time Cantor ran (and won), his margin of victory was greater than the total number of votes casted (60,000) yesterday. So this outcome does not necessarily show a great turn to the right; it shows how the most motivated Republican voters cannot be counted on by Corporate America.