Monday, November 26, 2007

Republicans Recruiting Millionaires to Run for Office? Can this Be True?

A story in the press today deserves some commentary, if only for its
comic relief qualities. The Republican party, faced with a "shortfall"
in campaign contributions for the 2008 congressional elections, is
actively recruiting very wealthy people who will be able to finance
their own campaigns. Now this is a reverse of the traditional practice,
namely, very wealthy people interviewing politicians like Richard Nixon
in 1946 and Ronald Reagan in 1965 and getting them to run for public
office with promises to finance their campaigns. It is also a bit of a
throwback to late 19th century early 20th century congressional
politics, when progressive journalists, both denounced and praised as
"muckrakers," called the U.S. Senate a "Millionaires Club" and some
Robber Baron types sought political office as a better way to protect
their investments and eliminate the middle man politicians whom they had
to bribe.

But as Marxists, we and our readers can take a few serious points from
this. Both political parties represent or have as their "investors"the
capitalist ruling classes, the Republicans for generations its most
reactionary, anti-labor, and openly chauvinist sectors. Given the
disasters that have characterized the Bush administration, investing in
the Republicans in 2008 means investing in policies which have weakened
the U.S. economy, not only in regard to working peoples living
standards, but also in terms of the value of the U.S. dollar, U.S.
power in the IMF, the escalating U.S. trade deficit and U.S. capital's
loss of domestic and foreign markets to competitors(something that the
development of multi-national capital doesn't wholly eliminate) and
most of all public acceptance of the administration's policies.
Investing in the Republicans in 2008 is bad for business, so bad, the
the GOP's usually large financial edge(it has been the "first party" of
industrial/finance capital in terms of active support in the U.S. since
at least the 1880s) may evaporate entirely as the Democratic market(at
least as represented by Democratic Leadership Council Democrats) becomes
a safer investment.

Of course, if there were strict and serious restrictions on the use of
money in campaigns along with public funding of campaigns and media
access for minoritiy parties and candidates(along with a system of
proportional representation rather than our winner take all vote for the
lesser evil and hope for the best system) we would be living in a de
facto democracy and none of these issues would be relevant. Then we
might even be able to judge a Republican Millionaire on his or her merits!

Norman Markowitz


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