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Playing Politics with the “Malefactors of Great Wealth”

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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.

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About Dave Nalle

Dave Nalle is Executive Director of the Texas Liberty Foundation, Chairman of the Center for Foreign and Defense Policy, South Central Regional Director for the Republican Liberty Caucus and an advisory board member at the Coalition to Reduce Spending. He was Texas State Director for the Gary Johnson Presidential campaign, an adviser to the Ted Cruz senatorial campaign, Communications Director for the Travis County Republican Party and National Chairman of the Republican Liberty Caucus. He has also consulted on many political campaigns, specializing in messaging. Before focusing on political activism, he owned or was a partner in several businesses in the publishing industry and taught college-level history for 20 years.
  • Glenn Contrarian

    Dave –

    We all know what you think of the government, but here’s a news flash for you: the only protection that anyone (including you) has against the vagaries of the corporate world…is the government. Allow the government to be bought off by the corporatists, and we have no real protection at all against corporate malfeasance.

    For instance, thanks to the Supreme Court, if AT&T (or any corporation or bank) decides to overcharge you three dollars per month, all they have to do is to include a clause in the fine print that any complaints must be taken up with arbitration, and they no longer have the threat of a class-action suit to worry about! And who’s going to take a major corporation to arbitration over three dollars a month? Sure, you could leave them and go to a different corporation, but any other corporation you go to can also effectively charge you fees with relative impunity.

    That’s but one example of how our government – our ONLY protection against corporate malfeasance – has been taken over by the corporations. And worst of all, corporations can now donate unlimited funds to state and local elections…including those of judges – and since such donations can now be made in secret, who’s to tell that judge that he or she must recuse him- or herself from judging a case involving that corporation? Welcome to the new oligarchy, Dave!

    And no, I’m not going to claim that Obama or the Democrats are innocent in this matter – they’re not. Even the most progressive members of Congress now realize they must kowtow to the corporations in order to get funding to run for reelection.

    Our democracy is dead – it just doesn’t know it yet.

  • troll

    …we’ve never had much of a democracy – what’s striking is that Madison’s argument in #10 that the popular vote will prevent the takeover of the government by the propertied faction is again proven false

    what does the failure of that presumption mean to the rest of his argument and to the myth of America?