One of the arguments I hear quite often against the possibility of change and reform in the Republican Party is that the party is essentially owned by a corporatist elite class, controlled by what Teddy Roosevelt called the “malefactors of great wealth.” While the argument may have some validity in that corporate interests have invested heavily in the Republican Party, there is a fundamental illogic in assuming that this means that the liberty activist wing of the party can’t make great inroads and even initiate revolutionary change in the party.
The proponents of this argument use as their examples the efforts of the party to pursue policies beneficial to certain business interest groups, usually the oil industry. They point out that Republican support for the Keystone Pipeline and for expanded oil and natural gas exploration are motivated by the influence of powerful corporations or super-rich families like the Koch and Bush clans. Similarly, opposition to trade controls, union busting, lax immigration laws, deregulation of industries, opposing environmental regulation and favorable treatment of Wall Street – all Republican policy mainstays – all benefit corporate interests and the wealthy groups behind those corporations.
All true, and all entirely irrelevant to whether those powerful interests would allow a libertarian wing of the party to gain more influence, elect people to office and change the ideological emphasis of the party. The key thing to consider here is that these plutocratic interests are not motivated by ideology – money has no morality. They are motivated by the desire to make money and to be left alone by government in order to do so. They want the Republican Party to clear the path for them to achieve their goals. Traditionally they have done this by corrupting politicians, spending money on campaigns and on buying influence to get what they want. Therefore, what reason is there for them to oppose a political movement within the party which produces leaders and policies which are inherently more compatible with their interests?
Spending a bunch of money to buy off the corrupt quasi-socialist political hacks and religious ideologues who currently dominate the Republican Party is far more expensive than nurturing the rising generation of more libertarian political activists whose interests seem to dovetail rather nicely with those of the corporate class. One of the truths of libertarianism is that the same policies which benefit all people by expanding personal and economic liberty naturally also help business and the monied class by reducing the burdens and interference of government.
Pipelines? Free trade? A more open labor market? Access to natural resources? Less regulation? Elimination of corporate taxes? Liberty Republicans don’t need to be bribed to support these ideas, because they are fundamental principles of their ideological cannon.
Some wealthy interests clearly already realize this. The Koch family in particular seems to get it. They have been spending money for decades on educational programs for young libertarians, finding them jobs in politics, supporting political activist groups with a pro-liberty agenda, and even backing the campaigns of liberatarian-leaning Republicans. As for the evil and corrupting Bushes, if it gets them a pipeline don’t be surprised to see Jeb Bush hugging Ron Paul and starting to talk just like him in Tampa this fall.
So when asking who is backing the party establishment, don’t assume that their allegiance can’t change. They don’t operate on personal loyalty or ideology. They just want results. All we have to do is convince them that we’re more naturally inclined to do the things they want done to swing some of that money and support to our causes and candidates. Don’t think of the malefactors of great wealth as the enemy. Success breeds success. Think of their support as the prize the Liberty Movement wins if we show we can gain some ground in the Republican Party.