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Open Thread | Main | Obama Embarrasses Himself in Buzzfeed Video
February 12, 2015

Jay Cost: The Republican Party Is Not Your Friend

I have long argued against a third-party split and the Nightmare Option of simply conceding the country to the liberals for 20 disastrous years.

I am no longer confident in such arguments.

At some point -- and that point is coming soon and hard -- the Republican Party must be treated as what it is, a second enemy party dominated by corporate liberalism.

Before quoting Cost's article, let me mention his book A Republic No More, a sustained argument that the inherent and apparently unreformable level of corruption in the American government has made it no longer a republic at all.

[T]he Republican Party, while far preferable to the unchecked liberalism of the Democrats, is not all that conservative.

[I]f we understand conservatism as advocating smaller government that treats people impartially, many in the party struggle mightily not to act on those principles. Instead, the recent history of "conservative" governance has been one of ever-larger government, and an expansion of the cronyism and corruption built into the system. The last time the GOP had complete control over the government, 2003-07, it massively expanded Medicare and enacted more pork-barrel spending than any prior Congress in history.

Political parties are not coterminous with ideologies. They are big, broad, unwieldy coalitions that contain lots of factions and varying traditions. Oftentimes, these forces are in direct conflict with one another. Conservatives are part of the Republican Party, but so are other forces that--while they might call themselves "conservative"--are actually something quite different.

Many who call themselves "conservative" are really actually corporatist.

These two things are not nearly the same. Furthermore, the corporate class which dominates American life both politically and economically is, as a matter of socio-political belongingness, extremely liberal. Yes, they will demand we lower the corporate tax rates and such, as their fiduciary duty demands; but then they will also demand we amnetize 12 million "New Americans" for the Old Americans to subsidize.

Those are my words, but Cost speaks similarly. He picks up in the early 1900s as the Republican Party discovers a new primary mission, now that its old primary mission (ending slavery) had been achieved.

That's when a new, postwar generation of Republicans transformed the party into the defender of Northern business interests. This was a fairly natural transition for the GOP. The Republicans had formed from the remains of the Whig party, which favored government efforts to develop the economy (e.g., protective tariffs). But the GOP of the 1880s and beyond took this to another level.

Republican Party leaders came to view the interests of the country and the interests of its largest businesses as one and the same.

As I argue in my new book, "A Republic No More: Big Government and the Rise of American Political Corruption," Republican Party leaders came to view the interests of the country and the interests of its largest businesses as one and the same....

The CBO predicted lowered wages and an increased unemployment rate over the next decade as a consequence of immigration legislation. To one side of the party, this is a defect; to the other, a virtue.

Yet this is something that business interests predictably oppose. Not all of them, of course. But each of these targeted policies benefits some corporate group or another, and each will work like hell to protect their personal slice of the pie. And they have plenty of friends in the old business wing of the Republican Party, which persists to this day. This is why conservatives have so far failed to cut farm subsidies or eliminate the Export-Import Bank. These are probably the most egregious forms of corporate subsidy, but the beneficiaries have enough friends in the GOP to preserve the status quo.

And of course that's why the corporatists support minting millions of new, low-wage-expectations Americans, to drive down actual current legal documented Americans' wages.

The corporatist class also insists, while this is all going on, that they pay less in taxes than they do currently, even though the effect of their desired policies will be to put more actual Americans on the government dole (and hence to jack up government expenses).

They not only seek to reduce their own cost of wages, but then further demand to be immunized against the higher taxes needed to compensate the out-of-work Americans their preferred policies create.

I am not only ready, but eager to ditch the corporate class -- and, frankly, the wealthiest 1% generally, which largely supports liberal policies -- and begin taking a very, very agnostic view on whether or not their taxes should be raised until it hurts.

And then, once it does hurt, and they are begging relief, we can have a different conversation about what we shall demand of them to ally with them anew.

But this time, we should insist that corporate interests serve the conservative agenda, rather than, as it has been forever, that the conservative agenda be made a slave to corporate interests.

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posted by Ace at 11:41 AM

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