Democrats have often railed against Republicans, charging them with a close intimacy with corporate America and unrelenting favoritism towards fatcat billionaires who, Democrats contend, are the source of middle-America’s problems today. It was this accusation that derailed Mitt Romney’s campaign against President Obama in 2012 and became a rallying cry against George Bush’s administration in the early 2000s.
But are Republicans really the ones who favor the most wealthy? It sure doesn’t seem like it. Blue-collar, non-college-educated workers, once the backbone of the Democratic Party, have shifted towards Republicans on all levels of the ballot in recent years. In 2020, Donald Trump became the first Republican in decades to win a majority of non-college-educated voters, after modest Obama wins in both 2012 and 2008. The only thing surprising about this trend is that it’s taken this long to mature: Democrats have long abandoned the American worker in favor of a “woke,” corporate agenda, driven largely by political opportunism and the radically shifting social values of the Democratic base. An honest analysis of the general policy stances of members of both parties yields that it is the Democrats, not the Republicans, whose proposals end up favoring the wealthiest Americans.
Let’s take immigration as an example. There was once a time when Democrats, citing the threat to American jobs and wages posed by unrestricted low-skill immigration, vehemently opposed open borders and authorizing illegal immigrants. Bernie Sanders, one of the most left-leaning members of the Democratic caucus, qualified his position like this: “At a time when the middle class is shrinking, the last thing we need is to bring over in a period of years, millions of people into this country who are prepared to lower wages for American workers.”
Such a statement would be borderline unthinkable from a “progressive” Democrat today. Now, by no means is Sanders a representative of the Democratic establishment--far from it--but it goes to show how even the most liberal members of the caucus once took an approach on immigration that would now be considered a conservative view. Today, Bernie Sanders and much of his caucus support a “pathway to citizenship,” welfare, and healthcare benefits for illegal immigrants. Some, like Alexandria-Ocasio Cortez and Ilhan Omar, want to abolish ICE entirely. Incoming President Joe Biden has vowed a moratorium on deportations during his first hundred days and has proudly promised to cut spending on border security.
Illegal immigration is, of course, detrimental to the American worker. Most of these laborers are low-skilled, working jobs for less pay than their American counterparts simply because they can be threatened with deportation at any time by their employers and therefore have no bargaining power. In 2008, a study of dozens of American cities by researchers at the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta found that the impact of illegal immigrant labor depresses wages among low-income native workers by at least 10%. And this doesn’t even take into account the fact that illegal immigrants drain the social safety net and take money out of the economy through remittances, according to studies by the Hoover Institution and FAIRUS.
So what changed? It’s not that Bernie Sanders or his party suddenly lost their ability to logically think about immigration policy. It’s that Democrats soon began to view supporting amnesty as politically advantageous. It helped them with their “progressive” base, who view attempts to enforce immigration law as a “racist attack” on brown people and also gave them an issue to oppose President Trump on. In addition, Democrats view illegal immigration as politically advantageous in a more literal sense; authorizing them as citizens would likely produce a reliably Democratic voting bloc that could swing tight races in their favor. Democrats still understand that this policy negatively impacts American workers, but would rather play politics than protect the people they were elected to represent.
But let’s explore another, more recent issue: the economics of COVID-19. Progressives have often complained, quite ironically, about how we’re witnessing the “greatest wealth transfer in history,” citing damning statistics such as Jeff Bezos’ net worth increasing $91 billion since the onset of the pandemic all while small businesses lost a collective $200 billion. Many progressives ferociously go on diatribes about “corporate greed” and why this phenomenon showcases the pressing need for the abolishment of the capitalist system.
Maybe this seems reasonable until you realize that it’s progressives who call for the most stringent COVID-19 restrictions in the country. It was the Democratic Party, and many of its members, who, in the name of “public-health,” ordered small businesses like hair salons, restaurants, hotels, and other facilities to close while simultaneously allowing large corporations like Walmart and Costco to stay open. It was Democratic politicians, like California Gov. Gavin Newsom and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who literally solicited the services of the facilities they supported closing down. It was the Democratic Party who twice voted to defund the PPP program, which provided relief to closed-down small businesses, likely saving over twenty-five million jobs. It was the Democratic Party who refused to make a deal with President Trump on stimulus before the 2020 election, even when offered a generous compromise deal by the President. USA Today quantifies the cost of this shameful political ploy, writing that the lack of stimulus relief threatens the closure of as many as 36,000 small businesses. Those are families, those are children, those are entire communities who won’t know where their next meal is coming from--and all because Pelosi and the Democrats wanted to deny the President a win before the election.
And while this may not have been totally by design, it was an inevitable byproduct of the anti-freedom, anti-science COVID policies pushed by the Democrats. By arbitrarily labeling some businesses as “essential” and others as unessential as well as pushing stringent reopening regulations that favored only those who had the capital to adhere to them, small businesses were crushed while corporations raked in millions off the lack of competition facilitated by the lockdowns. By trying to stuff stimulus bills with unrelated provisions like universal-mail in voting and diversity-quotas for airlines (yes, really), already dying small businesses had to wait even longer for much-needed relief. By playing to their woke base, most of whom strongly support lockdowns (per polls), and advancing their immediate political needs, the Democrats helped Wall Street roar while thousands of Mom and Pops’ closed forever.
So is it really Republicans, most of whom call for stricter immigration restrictions and oppose tyrannical lockdowns, even at a profit loss for large companies, who favor the rich? Well, let’s see what the rich think: Joe Biden and Hillary Clinton, two darlings of the DNC establishment, each individually raked in more money from Wall Street than any other presidential candidate in history, far outpacing supposed corporate sellout Donald Trump. In 2020, Biden received six figure donations from at least 67 billionaires, more than twice the number that contributed to Trump. Some billionaires, like Michael Bloomberg, made seven figure ad-buys for Biden in battleground states like Florida and Texas. Silicon Valley, the home of the tech industry, has supported Democratic candidates for years. For how much the Republicans supposedly love the uber-rich, it’s pretty clear that the feeling isn’t mutual.
Not only is working America beginning to realize the Democratic Party for what it is--a party more concerned about partisanship and pandering than workers and wages--the ultra-wealthy, the ones the Democrats have for so long purported to rail against, know it too.
If the progressives are right about anything, it’s this: corporations will do whatever it takes to keep their profits high. And it seems like backing the Democratic Party has been a pretty good investment for America’s ultra-wealthy.
*The author does not claim to represent all the opinions of all the members of the Postpartisan in this essay.