Sunday, June 15, 2014

Right Wing Populism and Left Wing Populism Have Some Things In Common

Eric Cantor's loss in the North Carolina GOP primary exposed a rift between the Tea Party and establishment Republicans.  The US Chamber Of Commerce represents the business centered wing of the GOP.  Cantor was represented in the GOP primary as an advocate for the "Chamber of Commerce Plan".  That plan consists of subsidies for large corporations which they call "Crony Capitalism".  It is also associated with the bail out of the Wall Street banks which they also hate.  Eric Cantor shared the Tea Party's hatred of social welfare programs like the Affordable Care Act,  but he was an advocate for Wall Street and subsidies for large corporate interest interest groups.  Boeing's stock dropped dramatically after Cantor's defeat in the primary.  Investors were aware of Boeing's dependence upon Cantor's support in the GOP House.

Elizabeth Warren, the Democratic Senator from Massachusetts, has much in common with the Tea Party brand of populism.  She opposes crony capitalism and she was highly critical of the ways in which the TARP program was used to rescue the Wall Street banks.  She also opposes the efforts of the banking system to water down the Dodd-Frank banking reform plan.  However, the Tea Party would not support Warren in any election campaign.  Warren is an advocate for a more progressive tax system and income redistribution programs that are opposed by many in the Tea Party.

The worst nightmare for many large corporate interest groups and the financial industry would be a common version of populism in the US.  The special interest groups that support the Tea Party movement include large corporations in the energy industries and the heavily subsidized industrial farming industry.  It also includes lots of small business people who feel over-burdened by government regulations by what they consider to be high taxes.  Their financial interests deviate from the financial interests of these interest groups but they manage to hold the Tea Party together by an appeal to the social value issues that they do not share with liberals like Senator Warren.  They oppose immigration reform and social diversity in any form.  They also dislike social welfare programs that redistribute income to minority groups even if many of them also benefit from those programs.  They have learned to hate elite liberals or progressives who advocate for their financial interests but who do not share their value system.

The danger to our political system is that a large number of Americans believe that our political system has been corrupted by special interests.  That is probably an accurate assessment.  Much of what happens in Washington is a battle between interest groups which may or may not share common interests.  Neither of our political parties could run campaigns without the funding that they receive from corporate interest groups.  Our electoral system has been broken and our system of democracy may have been broken with it.  It is a system that was intentionally designed to prevent a concentration of political power.  It has worked over the years because our major parties have often been able to put the national interest ahead of the interests of either party.  That no longer seems to be true.

No comments:

Post a Comment