Imagine buying a stock, then learning the seller changed his mind and canceled the transaction, without consequence.
Imagine running a storefront with a landlord who raised the rent whenever he felt like it, regardless of what the lease stipulated.
Imagine receiving a patent for a new invention that competitors could copy anyway, cashing in on your breakthrough without investing any of the hard work.
This is the sort of chaos the Republican party—once, supposedly, the party of business—now advocates in its effort to overturn the legitimate election of incoming President Joe Biden. When Congress counts the presidential electoral votes on January 6, at least a dozen Republican senators and more than 100 Republican members of the House plan to challenge the vote tallies in swing states that Biden won, giving him the presidency. Every state ran a free and fair election, with no meaningful disruptions or illegalities. Yet Republicans, led by a petulant President Trump, want to overturn the results anyway, because they don’t like the outcome. The rules don’t matter.
American capitalism works because rules, laws and customs dominate. Buyers and sellers in virtually every transaction know what to expect and have legal recourse if the other side cheats. Contracts force everybody to abide by predictable norms. There are flaws, but enforceable rules make the system better for everybody: Big firms, small businesses, workers and consumers.
Trump and his Republicans conspirators trying to overturn Biden’s win are saying, just this once, let’s break the rules. No biggie.
But it is a biggie. These Republicans are endorsing Venezuela-style ad hockery to keep their group in power illegitimately. Markets seem to be writing off the GOP insurgency as political shenanigans that are just for show. It’s way worse than that. The former “law and order” party has morphed into a crime and disorder party that cannot be business-friendly if its only priority is to retain power at any cost. This is a metastasis of the crony capitalism Trump has practiced for the last four years. It rewards only those on the winning side, while punishing those who play by the rules.
The many businesses that keep politicians in power by funding their campaigns should stop donating to any candidate who doesn’t overtly support the rule of law, in business and politics, both. Here’s a starter list of the 12 seditious senators who want to overturn Biden’s election, along with some of the top corporate donors for each, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. There’s no simple list of corporate donors to politicians, because companies donate to both campaign committees and political action committees that campaign on behalf of a favored politician. Some “dark money” donations aren’t even public. This list represents a combination of corporate donations to PACs and companies with the employees who donated the most to each candidate.
Marsha Blackburn, Tennessee: Top donors: HCA, Southwest Family of Companies, FedEx, AT&T, Comcast
Mike Braun, Indiana: Jasper Engines & Transmissions, Reyes Holdings, Alliance Coal, Eli Lilly, Wabash Valley Produce
Ted Cruz, Texas: Woodforest National Bank, Lockheed Martin, Berkshire Hathaway, Sullivan & Cromwell, Delta Air Lines, Insperity, Stewart Title Guaranty
Steven Daines, Montana: Charter Communications, Langlas & Associates, Amgen, Microsoft, Berkshire Hathaway, FedEx, United Parcel Service
Josh Hawley, Missouri: Diamond Pet Foods, Emerson Electric, Herzog Contracting, Hunter Engineering, Charles Schwab Corp, Edward Jones, Alliance Coal
Ron Johnson, Wisconsin: Northwestern Mutual, Foley & Lardner, Koch Industries, ABC Supply, Honeywell, AT&T Jenmar Corp., Elliott Management, CSX
John Kennedy, Louisiana: Acadian Ambulance Service, Atco Investment, Morris & Dickson, Amway/Alticor, Central Management, Ochsner Health System
James Lankford, Oklahoma: Koch Industries, Blue Cross/Blue Shield, Honeywell, Cox Enterprises, Ernst & Young, Devon Energy, United Parcel Service, Berkshire Hathaway
Bill Hagerty, Tennessee: Rogers Group, Apollo Global Management, FedEx, HCA, Cerberus Capital Management, Hall Capital, International Paper
Cynthia Lummis, Wyoming: Sinclair Companies, San Francisco Giants, Occidental Petroleum, Exxon Mobil, Pinnacle West Capital
Roger Marshall, Kansas: Burns & McDonnell, Nuterra Capital, Poet LLC, Watco Companies, Bukaty Companies, Goldman Sachs, Spirit Aerosystems, Bristol-Myers Squibb
Tommy Tuberville, Alabama. Hometown Lenders, Drummond Co., Wellborn Cabinet, Collazo Enterprises, Proshot Concrete
Trump conspirators in the House say as many as 140 Republicans will join the 12 seditious senators to subvert Biden’s victory. There’s no full list of the plotters, yet, but 106 House Republicans signed on to a doomed Texas lawsuit that tried to overturn Biden’s victory in December, and failed. That’s likely the core group.
Not the business-friendly party anymore
Republicans won’t be able to prevent Biden from taking office, since Democrats control the House and obviously won’t block the electoral vote counting. So corporate donors might think they should just hold their noses until the whole mess blows over. It’s probably worth supporting the Republicans’ low-tax, deregulatory agenda even if it means overlooking a few cranks in the party.
That view deserves a rethink. The Trump GOP did cut taxes and regulations, but it did so in a partisan way that was fiscally unsustainable and likely to be temporary. Trump, meanwhile, kneecapped free trade and declared war on companies he held personal vendettas against, such as Amazon, Time Warner, Facebook and Harley-Davidson. Out of spite, he wrecked the postal service, which many small businesses rely on.
There is no longer a business-friendly Republican party. The criminal attempts to prevent Biden from taking office are really a scramble among ambitious Republicans to claim the Trump base as their own in future elections, and keep feeding these voters the nativist lies and reckless populism that earned Trump four years in office. Business lobbies that support Republicans today are asking for more Trumpian chaos, which could backfire as the party rampages toward extremism and marginalization.
The Democratic party is not a comfortable home for corporate interests, either, though a stable Biden administration would be better for business than Trumpian turmoil. With the Republican party devolving into a gang of kooks and hoodlums, it may be time to draft whatever honest and ethical Republicans are left into a new party that can claim the rational middle and reinforce the rules of democracy. It can’t be worse than what the Republican party offers now.
Rick Newman is the author of four books, including “Rebounders: How Winners Pivot from Setback to Success.” Follow him on Twitter: @rickjnewman. Confidential tip line: email@example.com. Click here to get Rick’s stories by email.