Republicans Have a Problem: The Triumph of the Craziarchy

Charles P. Pierce
·4-min read
Photo credit: Alex Wong - Getty Images
Photo credit: Alex Wong - Getty Images

The current intramural hooley between corporate America and the radicalized Republican Party already has produced such authentic natural phenomena as Mitch McConnell, or whatever replicant they trotted out to a press conference, looking America straight in the eye and producing this magnificent crystalline structure of pure mendacity. From the Washington Post:

“My warning to corporate America is to stay out of politics,” McConnell said at a news conference in Kentucky on Tuesday, before adding: “I’m not talking about political contributions.”

That one belongs in Bartlett’s Book of Familiar Hypocrisies.

It was much simpler for conservatism when the political balance between the oligarchy and the craziarchy was universally understood. The former always depended on the latter to get the former’s favored candidates elected, usually on platforms that shined on the latter’s concerns once they got elected. Then, the country elected a Black man to be president, twice, and the members of the craziarchy saw their chance. Twice, in 2010 and again in 2014, they helped elect the worst menagerie that Congress had seen since the run-up to the Civil War. These were people with independent bases of support and, increasingly, their own financial wherewithal. Party discipline, solid on the surface, was on a roiling boil below it. Then, in 2016, the craziarchy rose up and nominated a vulgar talking yam and, against all odds, got him elected. Behind him, into Congress, marched an even wilder kingdom that owed even less to the Republican political establishment. What looked like iron control, and functioned as that, was really McConnell’s attempting to keep a powerful insurgency in check. The sad ends of both Speakers of the House John Boehner and Paul Ryan are case studies of what happens when this attempt fails.

While all this was going on, the resistance to it was beginning to cause some agita within the corporate class, because the resistance was bleeding over into the universe of its customers. This was not entirely sustainable and, when the president* himself lined up with the insurgency in his attempt to devise a way to stay in office, the fuse was lit.

Photo credit: Chip Somodevilla - Getty Images
Photo credit: Chip Somodevilla - Getty Images

Corporate America is out of patience with El Caudillo del Mar-a-Lago and his followers, at least on the national level. These people endanger the comfortable status quo. You can see it in how they’ve lined up ostentatiously against the voter-suppression in Georgia. And the Washington Post has produced some more evidence, this time on an individual and granular level.

Headhunters who have sought similarly prominent work for Chao have found little interest, according to two headhunters she’s consulted personally. The headhunters, speaking on the condition of anonymity because of the sensitive nature of the discussions, said top executives wary of backlash from associating with former Trump officials are boiling down Chao’s four-decade Washington résumé to its most recent entry: long-standing ally of Donald Trump, despite her resignation the day after the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol.

While the small numbers make comparisons difficult, corporations don’t seem to have an immediate interest in other top Trump administration alums either. Roughly half of the S&P 500 companies have filed their 2021 investor disclosure reports, listing a total of 108 new or prospective board members, according to data from Insightia, which provides information to shareholders. No Trump Cabinet officials who served in the final quarter of his term are among those nominated.

The schism is not universal, and it’s probably not permanent. The alliance between the corporate and the crazy still exists at the state level, and corporate-financed think tanks and activist outfits are at the heart of the national push for the kind of laws that have made trouble for Coke and Delta in Atlanta. The cognitive dissonance doesn’t seem too severe. And given the way we finance our politics in this country, I do think whatever schism there is will heal—or be heavily papered over—in the future.

Any attempt by the Democratic Party to take advantage of this squabble will appear to that party’s base as a return to the bad old days of the Democratic Leadership Conference’s lust for that sweet corporate cash. That Jeff Bezos has lined up with the Biden administration’s increase in the corporate tax rate to pay for its infrastructure plans is another interesting phenomenon, but I would point out that, in his Wednesday press conference, the president went out of his way to emphasize that the old 35 percent corporate rate was too high, and Senator Joe Manchin is still acting like the Pope on parade. More than anything else, the corporate-political class—and in this, I include too many members of the elite political media—prizes peace and docility over democratic ferment and innovation, whether those come from the left or the right. By any means necessary, the horses must not be frightened.

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