I have long believed that progressive economic policies are far better for most businesses than the policies of the modern Republican party. Oh, sure, Republicans will do a good job of taking care of their biggest contributors and closest special interest cronies — the Koch brothers won’t have to worry much about pollution laws or anti-trust enforcement if the people they support control the government. But for most businesses, progressive policies are going to help them a lot more than they hurt them. As I have written in the past:
Higher wages mean more disposable income for customers. Paid sick leave and decent health care benefits mean more stability in the workforce for most companies. Breaking up the biggest banks and fair rules for the financial industry would mean far more investment and better terms on loans for most small businesses. Better schools mean more productive workers.
Converting to a green economy and making adequate investments in infrastructure and R&D would mean the creation of thousands of new businesses and millions of new jobs, a lot of them high wage. Vigorous enforcement of anti-trust laws and prosecuting businesses that manipulate markets mean that honest businesses can better compete with big corporations who have an unfair advantage.
And there is a ton of data that show the economy consistently does better under Democratic governance than under the Republicans:
Now, though, in the post-apocalyptic moonscape that is the Republican party of 2016, it has become clear that the modern Republicanism of Trump and Cruz is even worse for the business community than the numbers suggest they historically have been. If, as the saying goes, the corporate world craves stability, the Republican party of today threatens instability on a mass scale. It’s bad enough for the business community if the man who has offended almost every demographic group in America outside of non-college educated white men is the Republican nominee. If the convention becomes a mess, the fight is between Trump and Cruz and some yet to be named establishment savior, then you have the specter of the riots Trump promised if he doesn’t get the nomination- and riots are rarely good for business. The potential of this going from ugly to violent is all too real, and that doesn’t exactly bode well for consumer confidence. We are already seeing this remarkable dynamic play out, as corporate America is in a state trying to figure out what the hell to do about the Republican convention this summer. Check out this rather remarkable article by Jonathan Martin and Maggie Haberman in the NYT the other day.
In it, they say:
Some of the country’s best-known corporations are nervously grappling with what role they should play at the Republican National Convention, given the likely nomination of Donald J. Trump, whose divisive candidacy has alienated many women, blacks and Hispanics.
And they go on to discuss the organizing work being done by some of the leading progressive organizations in the country, including Color of Change, Ultraviolet, and other major groups representing Latinos, Muslims, and the array of other constituencies deeply offended by Trump and Cruz’s rhetoric.
The fundamental problem is this: the U.S.A. is becoming more and more diverse in its racial and ethnic background, its religion, its lifestyle choices and its thinking. Businesses of all stripes want to appeal to those consumers (not to mention markets in the rest of the world) and hire the best people they can from those constituencies. Meanwhile, the Republican party has become the party of reaction against what America has become. The Trump/Cruz party openly embraces racism, nativism, misogyny and lack of toleration. They want to ban Muslims from entering the country and turn their neighborhoods into cordoned off war zones. They want to build walls to keep the rest of the world out. They are enthusiastic and unrepentant about insulting everyone not like them. And this is not good for business.
This conflict for business keeps coming up in different battles. The fights we have seen in Indiana, North Carolina, and Georgia over LGBT rights are not going away, and we will see this play out in all kinds of other ways as well.
What is good for business is customers with money in their pockets, young people able to enter the workforce with a good education backing them up, more federal dollars for R&D, 21st century roads and bridges and airports, and a financial system that invested in entrepreneurial start-ups rather than being focused on financial speculation. A good business climate requires communities that welcome every kind of person that wants to work hard and play by the rules, which is why the most diverse and welcoming cities in America tend to be the healthiest economically. Most businesses don’t need lobbyist-crafted special tax loopholes or sweetheart deals, they just want to be able to compete on a level playing field. And this kind of America is what progressives and Democrats are offering them.
I have been in business for most of the last two decades. My partners and I at Democracy Partners have built our business around the idea of embracing, working with, and supporting progressive constituencies. I would suggest that most businesses in America would be well served to do the same.
The Republican party of 2016 has jumped the rails and is about to crash. The business community needs to make sure it doesn’t crash along with them.