Sunday, November 26, 2006

Big Business No Longer in Conservative Coalition

The recent Doug Thompson piece on the election results has me thinking- as Thompson often does when he is at his best.

His main point is that, except for Congressman John Boozeman who was running against an underfunded populist Democrat, the business community bought into the idea that the Democrats would rule the state more competently than the Republicans. The Republican coalition since 1980 has consisted of religous conservatives and business interests. Thompson hints that since the religious conservatives won the primaries, the business side of the coalition did more than abandon the Republican side, it actively supported the Democrats.

He had limited space to delve into it, but I'd like to give it a try here...

(continued, click SUNDAY below and scroll down for article, or if sent straight here just scroll down)


Blogger Mark Moore (Moderator) said...

When Thompson says that business backed the Democratic ticket over the Republican one he is at least half right. BIG business backed the Democrats, small business basically stayed like they have been. In Arkansas , that generally means Democrat just because of tradition, and small business owners in these towns are the guardians of tradition.

It was BIG business, with its money and influence, that switched sides. The question is why? Was it because the Hutchinson-Holt-DeLay ticket was anti-business? Hardly, Holt had a 100% rating from the national federation of independent businesses. Hutchinson was out front promising them all sorts of tax breaks. The whole GOP ticket believed in changing the laws to create a generally favorable business climate.

That was not good enough for the Entergy's, the Tysons, and the Wal-Marts. Those guys are so big, they don't want fair. They don't want a "generally favorable climate" for all business. They want a specifically favorable climate for themselves. They want to use their weight to bargin with the government for an advantage over their competitors.

We have to move away from the old notion that big business just wants to be left alone to make money. That is no longer true. They noticed that they were big enough to make money another way- by lobbying politicians to take money from you and give it to them, whether directly or indirectly.

What worried big business about the Republican ticket is not that they would treat them unfairly, but that they would treat them fairly! That the rules would be applied equally to all. The Democrats on the other hand, offered special treatment to their special "friends".

Entergy likely found Beebe and McDaniel very accommodating in their efforts to shift the cost of power production in other states onto the backs of Arkansas ratepayers. Perhaps Tyson was annoyed at the Republican candidate's willingness to enforce our immigration laws. There preference was for the Democrats, who basically feigned helplessness on the issue at the state level. Perhaps Wal-Mart was disgusted that Holt testified before the ABC Commission that SAM's clubs should not be permitted to sell alcohol under the same roof they sold other products because it would be a violation of state law (and give them a competitive advantage over ma and pa liquor stores who had to abide by the statue).

In the past, the GOP coalition in Arkansas has consisted of religious conservatives who provided numbers and sweat equity and big business who provided big dollars. That coalition has come unravelled. Big business walked away rather than support a ticket that would give the religious conservatives what they wanted, but would not give these huge corporations as much of what they wanted- special favors.

The Democrats did not outsell the Republicans on competency, as Doug suggests, they outsold them on accomodation. Corporate America has split from Main Street America, and I wish I saw a way to fix it.

As far as Thompson's point about not being able to run against the gay agenda every time, he also has at least half a point. The gay agenda is in our face, but social conservatives have long noticed that they keep working, but their leaders never deliver on their agenda. As soon as the election is over, their agenda disappears while the leaders appease the big business side of the coalition. Then once every two years it is dusted off and the horns of alarm are blown again.

I call it "hitting the fear button". Well, my fear button is broken. I am not going to get excited working for you if I believe that you are only pressing the fear button to get my vote. The time is past for that. From now on, you have to convince me that you are actually going to deliver.

I don't know what to do about that either, but the GOP shows no sign of getting it. In fact, they are moving the opposite direction. They want to get away from "idealogies", as if you could have a coherent system of rule without one. What does it mean? Does it mean they are through even pretending they care about social conservative issues? I don't know for sure, but I think we are about to witness an historic political re-alignment in this country. Remember where you heard it first.

7:52 PM, November 26, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


You said: Holt had a 100% rating from the national federation of independent businesses.

I think you need to look at this:

Not something I would have posted here before the election because I wouldn't have wanted to hurt Holt's chances. But I think it was oversights and errors on the part of those putting Mr. Holt's stuff together that somewhat hurt his campaign. I doubt Mr. Holt would have published something that could be so easily refuted 1) because he wouldn't lie about this stuff and 2) it could have been potentially very embarrassing. Which leads me to believe that whoever was doing his campaign materials and talking points did not do their homework well enough.

10:25 PM, November 26, 2006  
Blogger Mark Moore (Moderator) said...

That guide is for the 2006 session, but those materials were prepared BEFORE the 2006 sessions- the regular session of 2005 was the big one.

On the few business issues dealt with in the 06 special session Holt only had a 71%, but even then only one senator had a higher ranking (Bryles), and that was because Bryles took a walk on the hard votes. He did not vote on 4 of 8, Holt voted on 7 of 8 even though he was running for statewide office.

Even in the session where Holt was less than 100%, he was still as good or better than his peers by NFIB rankings.

In conclusion, one can't make the case that big business didn't back Holt because of a poor record of supporting a generally favorable business climate, only that he refused to give special favors to the powerful.

5:21 AM, November 27, 2006  

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