If the GOP wants to win, it needs to champion the middle class
© iStock

The midterm elections — and the evolution of the Democratic Party into a deeply illiberal collection of the intolerant and deluded — ought to scare everybody into the arms of the Republican Party. 

Look, for instance, at some of the new House committee chairmen. At the Oversight Committee we have Elijah CummingsElijah Eugene CummingsFederal agency to resume processing some deferred-action requests for migrants Overnight Defense: Trump says he has 'many options' on Iran | Hostage negotiator chosen for national security adviser | Senate Dems block funding bill | Documents show Pentagon spent at least 4K at Trump's Scotland resort Top Oversight Democrat demands immigration brass testify MORE; at Judiciary, Jerry NadlerJerrold (Jerry) Lewis NadlerPelosi: Lewandowski should have been held in contempt 'right then and there' Nadler's House committee holds a faux hearing in search of a false crime Lewandowski says he's under no obligation to speak truthfully to the media MORE; at Intelligence, Adam SchiffAdam Bennett SchiffHillicon Valley: Lawmakers say Zuckerberg to 'cooperate' on antitrust probes | Dems see victory after McConnell backs election security funds | Twitter takes down fake pro-Saudi accounts Trump asked Ukraine president to investigate Biden's son eight times in one phone call: reports Lawmakers say Zuckerberg has agreed to 'cooperate' with antitrust probe MORE; and at Financial Services, Maxine WatersMaxine Moore WatersBipartisan housing finance reform on the road less taken Manufacturing group leads coalition to urge Congress to reauthorize Ex-Im Bank Democrats' impeachment message leads to plenty of head-scratching MORE. Add to that mix representatives like “democratic socialist” Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and party juggernaut Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiBiden blasts Trump, demands he release transcript of call with foreign leader Pelosi wants to change law to allow a sitting president to be indicted Overnight Health Care — Presented by Partnership for America's Health Care Future — Walmart to stop selling e-cigarettes | Senators press FDA to pull most e-cigarettes immediately | House panel tees up e-cig hearing for next week MORE

Truly, it more closely resembles a haunted house than a House of Representatives. 

And if that isn’t frightening enough, consider the group queuing up for a run at the Democratic presidential nomination in 2020. The top 15, as ranked by The Washington Post, include charlatans like Michael Bloomberg, Eric HolderEric Himpton HolderEric Holder says Trump is subject to prosecution after leaving office Eric Holder: Democrats 'have to understand' that 'borders mean something' Trump lawyers ask judge to toss out Dems' tax return lawsuit MORE, Terry McAuliffe and Cory BookerCory Anthony Booker2020 Democrats defend climate priorities in MSNBC forum MSNBC Climate Change Forum draws 1.3M viewers in 8 pm timeslot Iowa Steak Fry to draw record crowds for Democrats MORE. In the top three positions are Kamala HarrisKamala Devi HarrisTrump reignites court fight with Ninth Circuit pick MSNBC Climate Change Forum draws 1.3M viewers in 8 pm timeslot Iowa Steak Fry to draw record crowds for Democrats MORE, who conjures up links between ICE and the KKK; Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth Ann WarrenWarren: Congress is 'complicit' with Trump 'by failing to act' Sanders to join teachers, auto workers striking in Midwest Pelosi wants to change law to allow a sitting president to be indicted MORE, or Chief Spreading Bull, as Howie Carr calls her; and Bernie SandersBernie SandersSanders to join teachers, auto workers striking in Midwest Krystal Ball tears into 'Never Trump' Republicans 2020 Democrats defend climate priorities in MSNBC forum MORE, the most fossilized and humorless pol in the country. 


Not to put too fine a point on it, but are you kidding me?

Despite the obvious need for the voters of this country to squeeze such people until they squeak, it’s no sure thing that will happen. How can this be, you ask? Just look to the NeverTrumpers, the neocons and the GOP elite.

It is these illuminati, and their fanboys at large, who deliberately or unintentionally are running interference for the Dems. Aided and abetted by CNN and MSNBC, they persist in doing so in the guise of “conservatives.” Worse still, many stand as obstacles to any update of Republican policies, so desperately needed in a nation that is now so evenly — and perilously — divided.

It is often said that the GOP needs greater support from African-Americans, Latinos and Asians. That is both true and obvious. What is less obvious are the ways to get there — especially with all ethnic groups and races, and particularly who are middle class (or at least aspire to be).

Take the fraught issue of taxation. Why do the Republicans persist in promoting legislation that adds to the riches of the very wealthy? Why not just lower taxes on the middle class, and perhaps raise taxes on the super rich? A large number of them detest the GOP, and for those who don’t, who is to say even they wouldn’t appreciate a tax bill that landed with both feet on the Buffetts, Steyers, Bloombergs and Soroses? 

The much chronicled decline of GE, once seen as the very epitome of the kind of corporation that Republicans lionize, provides a useful example of the threat to the GOP when big corporations get a pass from the party elite no matter the impact on the middle class.

Writing last year on the occasion of Jeff Immelt’s retirement after 16 years as CEO of GE, Timothy Carney scathingly recalled the error of his ways:

Throughout (his) years, Immelt’s game was cozying up to government. [...] GE invested in businesses and technologies that depended for profits on mandates, regulations, tax credits, and handouts and then invested in lobbyists to ensure those favorable policies. Immelt was a political entrepreneur from start to finish.

In 2005, Immelt created “Ecomagination,” a venture that would try to find ways to profit off green energy and similar ideas. When former President George W. Bush in his 2007 State of the Union address laid out eight technologies he wanted to subsidize, at least seven of them –including “clean coal” – were GE specialties.

Then came the Wall Street bailouts and Obamacare, which Immelt said marked a “reset” of capitalism. “The interaction between government and business will change forever,” Immelt wrote in [GE’s] 2009 annual report. “In a reset economy, the government will be a regulator; and also an industry policy champion, a financier, and a key partner.”

And how did all that work out for the company and the country? GE spent more than any other company on lobbying during Immelt’s tenure, its stock fell 27 percent, and its American work force declined by 21 percent.


So, as Carney put it, Immelt’s GE harmed its customers by lobbying for laws like the one that led to the end of the inexpensive and popular incandescent light bulbs, harmed its shareholders by “destroying value in the company,” and “laid off more workers than it hired.” 

And the beat goes on. On Nov. 16, CNBC’s Market Insider published a piece with the title “GE was once America’s most valuable company. Today it is fighting junk-bond status.”

For the first eight of the 16 years that Immelt headed GE, George W. Bush was president, and Republicans controlled the House and the Senate for four years, from 2003 to 2007. Do you remember the White House or congressional Republicans holding Immelt’s or GE’s feet to the fire during that time? 

Neither do I. 

Patrick Maines is former president of The Media Institute.