Whoa! A prominent Republican blasting corporate America — long the fundraising lifeblood of the GOP? Holy moly!
But, upon further review, there’s actually an explanation for all of this. And, yes, it has everything to do with politics.
Start here: There’s no question that the populist revolutionary vision of the Republican Party pushed by former President Donald Trump has put the Grand Old Party more at odds with its long-standing business allies than at any point in modern political memory.
The US Chamber of Commerce was openly leery of Trump’s nativist immigration policies. And lots and lots of companies were sufficiently spooked by the insurrection at the US capitol on January 6 that they promised to avoid donating to any Republican politician who voted to object to the Electoral College vote.
“Boycott all of the woke companies that don’t want Voter I.D. and Free and Fair Elections,” said the former President in a statement Tuesday morning. (And, no, I have no idea why “Free” and “Fair Elections” are capitalized in that statement. Literally none.)
So, that is all true. But don’t be fooled into believing that corporate America and the Republican Party are going to be breaking up in any meaningful way for any significant amount of time.
Here’s why: Corporations know that Republicans, generally speaking, will look to protect their long-term interests (and by that I mean, uh, money) far better than the Democratic Party. And Republican politicians — very much including McConnell — know that they need the financial contributions of corporations to fund their campaigns, particularly as they seek to retake the House and Senate majorities they lost during the Trump era.
Corporate America is well aware of McConnell’s past record in pushing for them to spend their dollars on campaigns. (Just as McConnell is well aware of how many corporate dollars have been spent in support of Republican candidates since 2010.)
So, given all of that, here’s what McConnell is up to. He knows that corporate America is entirely bottom-line focused — as in, what way can it keep as much of its money as possible. And that corporations believe — and have ample reason from the past to believe — that the Republican Party is the party most likely to make that happen.
Which means that attacking corporations — and throwing a bone to the Trump populists with a nod to supposed “cancel culture” — amounts to a freebie for McConnell. He knows corporations aren’t going to walk away from the GOP because he’s issuing vague threats to them over the reaction to the Georgia election law. And if they do blanch at his critique, McConnell can just have his office crunch a few numbers on the difference in their bottom line between a 21% corporate tax rate and a 28% one to remind them.
That’s McConnell’s ultimate Trump — ahem — card on corporations. And they know it.