As Republicans gather to nominate Mitt Romney for the White House this week in Tampa, I’d like to offer them a modest proposal of my own. The Republican Party should adopt a pro-business platform.
Isn’t the Republican Party already pro-business? Although Republicans love to claim that they support policies that help businesses grow and thrive, they’re being disingenuous when they do. The modern Republican Party is really pro-shareholder.
What do I mean by that? Since the 1980s, the Republican Party has prioritized the needs of shareholders over the needs of American business. In addition to making it easier to sell unwanted shares, the Republicans have latched on to the financial industry and made Wall Street the heart and soul of its economic program.
No longer do you hear Republicans, many of whom attack their Democratic opponents for being “un-American,” advocate on behalf of buy America legislation, or stand up for American business against unfair trade practices, such as the dumping of tires or lead pipe on the American market from China or India.
No longer does the Republican Party advocate that the United States invest in critical infrastructure that makes business thrive. The Republicans of yesteryear, like Abraham Lincoln (who gave us the continental railroad) or Dwight D. Eisenhower (does the Eisenhower Interstate Highway System ring a bell?), would be completely out of place in a Republican Party that voted (with only three exceptions) against President Barack Obama’s stimulus program.
The Republicans of today couldn’t care less about the future of American business. In power, the Republican Party has happily abolished regulation that helped businesses and pushed trade deals that have diluted America’s manufacturing base. This, combined with their utter disregard for America’s crumbling infrastructure, upon which all interstate trade relies, paints that picture rather well.
How might the Republicans embrace a truly pro-business agenda this November? They can start by calling upon the United States government to do a more thorough job of policing international trade and preventing dumping. They can go a step further and make it easier to invest in the United States by improving our infrastructure, rather than opposing these measures in lockstep.
I won’t hold my breath on the Republicans taking a pro-labor populist like myself seriously. After all, this is the party of Wall Street we’re talking about. But it’s worth giving a look.
Column by Devin Griggs, Opinion Editor