Opinion | No, The GOP And The Dems Haven’t Actually Swapped Brains
It’s a head-shaking sign of ideological malleability that seems like a rejection of any principle that conservatives hold dear. The reality is that the GOP working class war against American corporation is neither a war nor a working class, or especially an anti-corporate war. Like almost everything else in Republican politics these days, the GOP corporate slap fight is performative rather than substantial. And everyone involved knows it.
For decades, Republicans have claimed to believe in local control and the right of private companies to make their own decisions. But now activist GOP governors like Ron DeSantis of Florida and Greg Abbott of Texas are signing Executive Orders preventing companies from requesting “vaccination certificates.”
Conservatives who once claimed they were in favor of limited government are now pushing for an ambitious range of government mandates and interventions. Senators like Josh Hawley have called for creating new bureaucracies to test and monitor language on social media platforms. “Constitutional Conservatives” like Senators Ted Cruz and Mike Lee threaten Use the power of the government to take revenge against private organizations for their political speech.
And until about five minutes ago, GOP minority leader Mitch McConnell was the Senate’s chief defender of free speech for American businesses. Back in 2012, when the Democrats were pushing for more transparency in corporate policy spending, McConnell stated: “It is vital that all Conservatives – and indeed all Americans – stand up and unite to defend freedom, stand up for freedom Organize issues we believe in and against any effort that would limit our ability to do so. “
But last week, after big corporate CEOs spoke out against Georgian voter suppression laws, he said, “My advice to corporate CEOs of America is to stay out of politics. Do not choose sides in these great battles. “And he combined this with a threat:” Companies will have grave consequences if they become a means for radical left mobs to kidnap our country from outside the constitutional order. “
But do not worry. Mitch will continue to cash the corporate campaign checks. And there won’t be any “grave consequences,” at least not on his watch.
Despite all the fustian about retaliation and calls for a boycott, not a single Republican will vote for a dime in new corporate taxes. And the newly minted Workers’ Party will continue to be a trusted ally of corporate interests. Mitch McConnell is not Abbie Hoffman and the GOP is not based on Bernie Sanders.
So why the elaborate pantomime? The show serves a useful political purpose for Republicans faced with an obvious problem. For years, the GOP has been a loyal maid for corporate interests and reliably offers its equally reliable corporate financiers juicy tax breaks, subsidies and favors.
Trump’s success with MAGA voters has meant that the party now feels it needs to reconcile its corporate toadyism with its new faux populism.
This is awkward as a “working class” GOP has no interest in actually doing much for the working class. It is unlikely that a significant increase in the minimum wage, more vocational training, paid leave, better access to health care, labor rights or the creation of more jobs will be supported by an extensive infrastructure law.
When Republicans talk about the working class, they instead mean culture war, racial fear and complaint against elites. In other words, more Dr. Seuss as an economic upswing. Conveniently, the recent flurry of corporate conscience over racial and democratic issues has allowed the GOP to link its war in the faux class with its assault on wakefulness.
When would-be working class hero Marco Rubio endorsed a union campaign by Amazon workers, he explained it this way: “Here’s my standard: When the conflict is between working Americans and a company whose leadership has decided to wage a culture war against them Leading working class values The choice is simple – I support the workers. “
In other words, Rubio only backed collective bargaining in return for a Jeff Bezos company – someone Trump loathed. It wasn’t about lessons. It was always about culture and about making the right enemies.
There is no legislative agenda here just a new form of highly theatrical stance that has replaced the remnants of substantive conservatism in the GOP. Under Trump, the Republican Party literally decided it didn’t need a platform; and even after Trump’s departure, it doesn’t believe that there needs to be an actual agenda or any actual solid principle of any kind.
The current GOP is less interested in the chaotic business of governance than in performative outrage and the memes that work well on social media and cable television. Memes are not ideas and do not require a set of principles. The result is a kind of free-floating nihilism as the GOP chases down narratives that stir up outrage, generate clicks, shake loose base posts, and play well on Newsmax and Fox.
Trump understands that. So does Georgia Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (she had a $ 3.2 million fundraiser outside of the year in the first quarter) and other rising stars of the performative GOP. MP Matt Gaetz has been widely ridiculed the writing “If you don’t make the news, you don’t rule.” But he had clearly identified the real power structure of right-wing politics and the reason the entertainment wing overthrew the party’s unique establishment.
But this lack of principle hides a far more consistent thread among Republicans. They continue to agree in their commitment to serve Trump’s ego, making it harder to choose and win at any cost.
Increasingly, however, there are voices on the right who are calling for values such as restraint, moderation or concerns about procedural subtleties such as the peaceful transfer of power to be abandoned. And here the performance changes from absurd comedy to something much darker. Some of the right, who have given up both principles and traditional conservative sensibilities, seem ready to give up the idea of America. In a recent issue of the Journal of the Claremont Institute The American spiritOne right-wing writer argued that anyone who voted against Trump in the last election was not a true American. “I don’t just mean the millions of illegal immigrants,” he wrote. He meant Americans who “technically may be citizens of the United States but are no longer (if they ever were) American. ”
And then this leading conservative magazine effectively excommunicated the more than 81 million people who voted for Joe Biden: “They don’t believe in the principles, traditions and ideals that until recently defined America as a nation and as, live or even like a people. It’s not obvious what to call these aliens, these non-American Americans. but they are something else. “
At the moment this may all be theater. But fake wars can become real. As we saw on January 6th, fake riots can turn violent and deadly.
Conservatives used to understand that words had meaning and actions had consequences. Even if they think they’re just playing.