Since when did business become the GOP’s ‘Enemy?’

November 4, 2013

President John F. Kennedy was always wary of businesses. He had a colorful quote from his dad about such captains of industry being…well… “sons of businesses,” (I changed the last word, as you can guess). It fit the mentality of Democrats toward businesses, but that may be changing in recent years. And a new group may be targeting corporations.

The Atlanta Journal Constitution published an article the other day about a Mitt Romney donor who had decided to switch to the Democrats. He and his wife will be contributing to Michelle Nunn’s campaign. The donors cited the recent government shutdown as the last straw.

Across the country, Tea Party candidates are lining up against pro-business Republican moderates who averted a default and ended a government shutdown as well. They’ve vowed to “primary” these candidates and elect more Ted Cruz, Justin Amash and Ted Yoho types.

Meanwhile, sensing an opportunity, Maryland Rep. Christopher Van Hollen, a leading Democrat, has sent out a fundraising letter to leading Republican businessmen, inviting them to switch sides. Democrats are looking to pad their demographic lead with corporate money.

You could say that the trend began back during the Clinton years, when the Arkansas Governor reversed years of Democrat animosity towards business, and reversed years of poor fundraising totals by his party. It was one of the factors that ended years of the Democratic Party being shellacked in presidential contests.

Some, like Al Gore and John Kerry, were a little closer to the traditional Democratic line, but Barack Obama has borrowed a page or two from Clinton’s policies, and it has paid off.

Meanwhile, Tea Party candidates have been running a populist tone that includes attacks on pro-business Republicans, jeering them with words like “Country Club Republicans,” to mobilize the masses against the elites in a fashion Karl Marx might appreciate.

Someone in the Republican Party has to say “What’s the deal?” If you look back through history and link the GOP to their historic father (the Whig Party) and historic grandfather (the Federalist Party), you’ll see a tradition of pro-business policies dating back to the Washington, Adams and Hamilton years. The Federalists actually discussed secession during the War of 1812, disgusted with the Jeffersonian policy of embargo and Madison’s declaration of war.

For years, Republicans were able to box-in the Democrats as anti-war, pro-labor, pro-environment, and opposed to tax breaks for corporations. But the Tea Party has helped the GOP paint themselves into a corner, as corporations realize that shutdowns, defaults, the war in Iraq, and even anti-environmental policies are “bad for business.” Even the Chamber of Commerce pleas for immigration reform (which could not only lead to wage flexibility, but also stem labor shortages in the future over the wave of demographic retirement) are attacked by the Tea Party. Meanwhile, Moderate Democrats like Obama extended the Bush tax cuts thanks to lobbying from businesses and have quietly gone about reducing the budget deficit.

Well, corporations aren’t waiting for the Tea Party to come to their senses. Business leaders are preparing to “primary” Tea Party leaders like Representative Amash in Michigan. When CEOs are lining up against the Tea Party, you know somebody lost their way.