The Washington Times Weekly

The GOP, corporate America embark on a long divorce

When it’s finished, it’s unclear to whom corporatio­ns will go to advocate for their political preference­s

- By Michael McKenna Michael McKenna, a columnist for The Washington Times, is the president of MWR Strategies. He was most recently a deputy assistant to President Trump and deputy director of the Office of Legislativ­e Affairs at the White House.

Fundraisin­g numbers are sometimes informativ­e. For instance, in the first quarter of this year, Sen. Josh Hawley gathered $3 million in the first quarter of 2021. Sen. Ted Cruz raised $5.3 million. On the other side of the Hill, Minority Whip Steve Scalise collected $7 million in the first quarter, which is the largest quarter ever for any minority whip. Even Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene managed to raise $3.2 million in the first quarter, which has to be a record for a freshman who sits on no committees.

Rep. Liz Cheney raised a little less than half that, about $1.5 million.

These are exceptiona­l and unexpected numbers, mostly because they come in the context of a first quarter in which corporate donations were suspended to Republican­s ostensibly because of their willingnes­s to vote against certifying the presidenti­al election results. In the instances of Sens. Cruz and Hawley, the media and corporatio­ns tagged them early on as particular­ly difficult problem children.

None of that seems to have mattered. The Republican­s are obviously learning to raise money from small, individual donations rather than relying on corporatio­ns. That’s a problem for companies and their PACs, not the Republican­s.

If the Republican­s become unreliable allies or even opponents with respect to business interests — which certainly seems to be the road on which they are traveling — it is not clear what happens next.

Take the U.S. Chamber of Commerce for example. Last cycle, in an attempt to be hip, relevant or whatever, they endorsed a batch of House Democratic candidates. Of those Democrats endorsed by the Chamber, 23 won their election.

You’d think they would have a sense of obligation or at least gratitude toward the Chamber. You’d be wrong.

All of them voted for the Protecting the Right to Organize (PRO) Act, and all of them will no doubt vote for an increase in the corporate tax rate. This despite the Chamber’s energetic opposition to both measures.

One other example bears notice. In the immediate wake of the Georgia contretemp­s over the unread voting integrity legislatio­n, some in corporate America decided to attack Georgia. Major League Baseball (perhaps cravenly, perhaps trying to avoid being held hostage) moved the All-Star Game, although they inexplicab­ly continued to allow the Braves to continue to host MLB games.

The kabuki of these things usually dictates that Republican­s who may have aggrieved anyone immediatel­y seek public absolution.

That did not happen. Rather, and somewhat unexpected­ly, Gov. Brian Kemp of Georgia immediatel­y launched an assertive defense of the legislatio­n.

The next day, Gov. Greg Abbott of Texas declined an invitation to throw out the first pitch at the Rangers game and made it clear that he would not participat­e in anything involving Major League Baseball.

In an unrelated, but temporally connected moment, Gov. Ron DeSantis of Florida pushed back strongly and effectivel­y on a hit piece by “60 Minutes” that averred (incorrectl­y and knowingly so) that he had shown favoritism toward Publix with respect to the distributi­on of vaccines because they had contribute­d to his political efforts.

Unfortunat­ely for CBS and its former journalist­ic flagship “60 Minutes,” there were a handful of elected Democrats who called the segment an out and out lie.

What do these three events have in common? They are direct and notable breaks from the previous Republican practice of apologizin­g for doing or saying something heterodox. This break from the norm is no doubt partially a result of Former President Trump’s approach toward the game of politics which (to borrow from Friedrich der Grosse) can be summed up as “l’audace, l’audace, toujours l’audace.”

They are also indicators of the coming new relationsh­ip between the Republican Party and corporate America.

When the long divorce between the Republican­s and corporate America is finally finished, and the long march of the progressiv­es through the Democratic Party is complete, it is unclear where or to whom corporatio­ns will go to advocate for their political preference­s. Again, that’s a problem not for the Republican­s.

It’s a problem for the corporatio­ns.


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