Home/Daniel Larison/When Have Republicans Ever Been The “People’s Party”?

When Have Republicans Ever Been The “People’s Party”?

That would be a shame, because tacitly backing Wall Street on this issue erodes the GOP brand as the People’s Party [bold mine-DL]. ~Matt Continetti

Via Andrew

Continetti does not appear to be joking when he refers to the Republican brand as that of the “People’s Party.” He cites Barone, who correctly notes that Wall Street firms favored the Democrats before the last election. It is true that Democrats received more donations from people working at Wall Street firms than Republicans in the last cycle. Part of this does have to do with changes in political leanings, but an equally important reason for this backing was that a Democratic victory was expected. Perhaps no less important is the reality that Wall Street donors reasonably expect most Republicans to support their interests almost automatically, while Democrats are not always natural supporters.

Regardless, some Republican leaders have been eagerly trying to cultivate Wall Street donors for at least the last several months, and Boehner has specifically cited Republican willingness to oppose regulatory reform as the reason why the donors should support the GOP. Any remote chance of being confused with a “People’s Party” is one that the House and Senate Republican leadership has done everything it possibly could to destroy at least since it backed the TARP in September 2008.

This is understandable, because when it comes to economic and financial matters the Republican Party is not and really has never been a “People’s Party.” It is a bit unfair to expect the leadership of a party that has traditionally defended corporate and financial interests to support anything that could be considered economic populism. This is hardly news at this point, but Republican anti-elitism is limited specifically to those areas where there are the fewest Republicans: Hollywood, academia, and the media. Whenever similar attitudes start to be directed at corporations or Wall Street, party leaders and activists become very hostile to populism. This certainly goes against the public mood right now, but Republican leaders have been oblivious to the public’s economic concerns, trade skepticism and anger at Wall Street for years. There wasn’t much reason to expect them to change now.

about the author

Daniel Larison is a senior editor at TAC, where he also keeps a solo blog. He has been published in the New York Times Book Review, Dallas Morning News, World Politics Review, Politico Magazine, Orthodox Life, Front Porch Republic, The American Scene, and Culture11, and was a columnist for The Week. He holds a PhD in history from the University of Chicago, and resides in Lancaster, PA. Follow him on Twitter.

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