Why the Business Sector Will Pick Our Next President

Barack Obama

The outcome of the 2012 presidential  elections was widely touted as a win for average Americans and a  defeat for big money, which overwhelmingly  seemed to back the Republican challenger, Mitt Romney.  But the reality is  that corporate money followed both parties in that race, and the deciding factor  was not the amount but the fact that the GOP’s candidate simply did not match  the public’s mood.  Romney’s donors erroneously assumed that an extremely  conservative and elitist GOP party representative could succeed in 2012, but  they turned out to be wrong.

That calculation by the business sector is now changing, and in the process,  aligning its immediate interests with the wishes of voters, which can  potentially determine who our next president will be.

The tipping point was the government shutdown this year and the subsequent  down-to-the-wire game of chicken that our political leaders played over the  federal debt ceiling.  While the markets shrugged off the threats for the  most part, the business sector was still disturbed by how close we came to the  edge.  Corporate leaders ranging from Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz to  JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon vented their extreme displeasure with everyone in  Washington – but mostly the GOP, in letting this happen.  Immediately  following this, Ken  Cucinelli, the Tea Party favorite in the Virginia governor’s race and the  frontrunner, lost the race reputedly due to a lack of financial support from the  U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the business sector in general.  In another  race, Bradley  Byrne, a GOP establishment candidate, won an Alabama congressional seat in a  runoff against a Tea Party flamethrower, with considerable support from the  business community.

The business sector, it seems, is leaning towards moderation, or at least to  left of the far right, and that is in keeping with the public sentiment in  general.  Following the shutdown, the GOP’s disapproval rating rose to 63  percent and even the Democrats suffered with a disapproval rating of  49%.  Americans are sick of gridlock and want to see a functioning  government.  That cannot happen with extremist politics (from either side),  and that is what both voters as well as the business community are  repudiating.  This trend is likely to continue through the midterms and  will accelerate as the next presidential election nears, and will put Republican  candidates like Governor Chris Christie into a well-deserved spotlight

It will also, on the Democratic side, bolster the potential of the highly  pragmatic and experienced Washington player Hillary Clinton.  While there  are rumors that Boston’s favorite daughter Senator Elizabeth Warren, who is an  outspoken critic of Wall Street and the business sector in general and has  crusaded against corporate abuse for most of her career, might challenge Hillary  for the nomination, it is unlikely that it will come to pass – if for no other  reason than it would split Democratic loyalties at a moment when the party must  present a united front against the GOP.  In addition, Senator Warren’s  stormy relationship with the business sector could lose the party valuable  support from that side.

The business sector tends to vote its pocketbook and so the Republican  platform of low taxes and less regulation usually trumps the Democratic  platform.  However, what the races in Virginia and Alabama illustrate is  that fiscal conservatism alone cannot win the day (if the Tea Party really had  its way, there would no taxes or regulation at all).  Even the  profit-motivated business community realizes the necessity for some type of  balance and by putting its money behind that philosophy, can help to make that a  political reality for America.  The last presidential election was the most  expensive in our history and most of the money for both parties came from large corporate  donors.  The next race is likely to be even more expensive and once  again, donations from the business community will form the bulk of the  fuel.  Only this time, the business sector is more likely to fund centrist  candidates who can help shepherd us back towards something of a center, and  political sanity.

That is a good thing.


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