The Billionaires Waited Too Long to Panic

The billionaires have been looking around for someone with the credentials of a Douglas MacArthur or a Dwight Eisenhower because, just as the Republican Party of 1952 was about as useful as teets on a bull, the contemporary version is a psychiatric wreck totally unsuited and unprepared to responsibly represent anyone’s interests. Alas, no war heroes of sufficient stature are available, and the Starbucks guy seems to be auditioning less for president than for most punchable face.

There were #NeverTrumper people who were kind of getting accustomed to having one foot outside of the Party of Lincoln until they got a load of Elizabeth Warren’s wealth tax and puddles began to form around their ankles. They’re beginning to fear that Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s proposed 70 percent top marginal income tax rate is more popular than the idea of a President Michael Bloomberg.

Suddenly, Trump doesn’t look so bad. After all, he did build the Autobahn deliver on tax reform, regulatory rollbacks, and undermining Obamacare. He did withdraw from the Paris Climate Accord. He is cracking down on the crazy socialists in Venezuela and Cuba. And look at all those Heritage Foundation judges!

I’ve long wondered why the billionaires have not gotten serious about building a replacement for the Republican Party. They could begin by denying the Republicans any funding. It’s not like Eisenhower Republicanism or even Teddy Roosevelt-style progressivism doesn’t maintain a degree of appeal. So, maybe the billionaires want less Roosevelt and more Taft, but there is no necessary reason why Wall Street tycoons should be tethered to Gulf Oil tycoons or the Christian fundamentalist movement. Why does a Yankee Republican want to be associated with the party of Louie Gohmert, Roy Moore, and Joe Arpaio?

But the billionaires waited too long. California set sail and Texas is probably next. The people want someone to pay for the Great Recession. They want someone to pay for our hollowed out small towns and failing farms. They want someone to pay for the fact that we have a Russian agent in the White House and the Republicans won’t do a damn thing about it. They’re losing interest in the old arguments about why they can’t have nice things.

It’s not like this tiger can’t be tamed. Eisenhower delayed a postwar reckoning for a decade, mainly by golfing everyone to sleep. But you can’t fix something with nothing. The billionaires sat and watched while our military was sent on impossible missions that produced no national heroes. They sat and watched while Fox News and hate radio spurred a sleeping electorate into a foaming froth of reckless and aggressive stupidity. They did nothing while the hateful right-wing throngs alienated the entire suburban professional class to the point that they reconciled with the people in the cities they had fled.

So, now, at this late date the billionaires need to build a new party, but they can’t do it with intellectuals. They can’t do it with professionals. They can’t do it with the underclass or with the know-nothing Republican base.

At least Bloomberg understands the problem well enough to understand that to win back the suburbs the billionaires have to care about shootings in schools. But they also have to care about climate change and the environment. They have to care about people’s retirement security. They need to spend on roads and railways. Somehow, they let the Democrats take on the entire responsibility of representing the Yankee Republican while they were still shouldering the job of representing labor and the cities.

The #NeverTrumpers are going to pay a price for their errors for a change. It’s exactly what the people want.

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Martin Longman

Martin Longman is the web editor for the Washington Monthly. See all his writing at ProgressPond.com