The Republican Party is not yet a wholly-owned subsidiary of Wall Street.
There are still a few Republicans, some of them stalwart conservatives, who think they owe a greater duty to their ideals and their constituents than to the bankers and bundlers who write campaign checks.
That unsettles bonus-rich CEOs, insider traders, short-selling speculators and the political grifters who serve their interests in Washington. So they are using their immense wealth, and their immense influence within the political sphere, to try to create a Republican Party that is entirely in their image. An essential test of the strategy comes Tuesday, in a North Carolina Republican primary, where a conservative congressman who says “no” to big banks and big money faces a corporatist challenger who is an enthusiastic yes man for Wall Street and the politics of plutocracy.
For those who imagine that American electoral politics is a simplistic team sport, pitting ideologically-and-practically identical Republicans against ideologically-and-practically identical Democrats, the incumbent, ten-term House member Walter Jones, appears to be an outlier. Conventional-wisdom peddling pundits refer to the congressman as “an iconoclast” and a “maverick.” But for those who understand the real struggles going on within our politics, Jones is the Washington face of a phenomenon that is hard to see in Washington but reasonably common in the states: that of the Republican reformer.
There really are Republicans who want to work with Democrats, Greens, Libertarians and independents to get big money out of elections and to renew a politics where Main Street matters more than Wall Street. They are essential to the building of coalitions that will overwhelm the money power and enact a constitutional amendment to say corporations are not people, money is not speech and citizens have a right to demand the organization of elections where the vote matters more than the dollar.
What scares the bankers and the billionaires—not just about Walter Jones but about the broader phenomenon—is that the coalitions are being built.
Across the country, at the grassroots level, Republicans have formed alliances with Democrats to demand that the influence of money in our politics be reduced. As the reform group Free Speech for People noted last year, dozens of Republican legislators have backed calls by states for a constitutional amendment to overturn not just the Citizens United ruling but other barriers to the regulation of money in politics. With backing from third-party and independent legislators, as well, the passage of the state resolutions highlights what the group refers to as “a growing trans-partisan movement…calling for the US Supreme Court’s misguided decision in Citizens United v. FEC (2010) to be overturned, through one or more amendments to the US Constitution.”