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Chambers of commerce are crippling the Republican Party

Corporations are no longer a reliable ally for the cause of conservatism


A group with Amazon marching in a gay pride parade in San Francisco Associated Press/Photo by Jeff Chiu (file)

Chambers of commerce are crippling the Republican Party
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One of the inescapable realities of our current political landscape is that the Democrat Party is united and the Republican Party is not. One attempts to satisfy its constituencies, and the other is constantly alienating its voters. Why is that? The answer is key to understanding why so many conservative voters, including many Christians, are unhappy with their political leaders and what can be done about it.

It may seem odd to characterize the Democrats as unified in the midst of their recent struggle to gain the votes of Sens. Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona on key party priorities, such as enacting the Build Back Better legislation or altering the Senate filibuster. But the recent vitriol directed at those two individuals for not going along is itself evidence of the degree to which the vast machinery of the party remains unified in purpose. Think of the many different presidential candidates in the 2020 Democratic primaries, and yet the winning, so-called “moderate” President Joe Biden governs from the hard left on priority after priority. This is not accidental. Party elites—leadership, donors, activists, and most voters—all share the same radical, secular liberal worldview of the age. They are all committed to relentlessly pushing forward in pursuit of “progress,” disagreeing only in how fast or at what political cost.

In comparison, the Republican Party is split, seemingly inexorably, between two factions. The differences between the two are fundamental. They are about purpose, not pace. One faction is horrified that the United States is decades into an incremental revolution whereby self-government was tossed in favor of a secular, expert-led bureaucratic regime, whose interests are increasingly protected by large, multinational corporations that coerce the populace. They want resolute, prophetic statesmanship befitting the late hour that requires status quo–shattering paradigm shifts. Most of the Republican voters are in this camp.

The other faction is harder to describe, as it is itself a mix of those with differing priorities, viewpoints, and temperaments. Perhaps the easiest description is to say that they are made up of those who are not horrified by the danger the United States faces. These individuals are either unaware or unalarmed by the currents carrying modern America or their destination. Sometimes the pace is a little quick, but it is largely the inefficiency or the material discomfort of the journey that concerns them. They want reform within the current paradigm. Most of the party elite are in this camp. This split is the main division that renders the Republican Party incapable of delivering on a coherent agenda to the American people.

The alliance with big business is now an anchor, dragging the conservative movement down.

The best example of this faction are the (historically Republican) chambers of commerce. Perhaps in opposition to FDR’s New Deal or LBJ’s Great Society, many corporate executives flocked to the GOP in favor of low taxes, little regulation, and a strong economy. They wanted less government spending. And for many election cycles, they made for worthy coalition partners, particularly as many were also committed to maintaining traditional values and keeping the nation strong.

But over the years, the business community has become far less reliable. Corporations—led by chambers of commerce—are now the main obstacles to Republicans engaging in the necessary culture fights that are most pressing at the state and federal levels. They are the Praetorian Guard for the interests of the LGBT community, going as far as to support the radical Equality Act. They are strong proponents of critical race theory disguised as “diversity and inclusion training” in their HR departments. They instituted their own vaccine and mask mandates on their employees and customers while fighting state governments attempting to protect their citizens from being coerced. And they have been some of the most vocal opponents of voter integrity measures. Never mind the host of issues—ranging from free trade absolutism to the power of multinational companies—in which their outsized presence in the party prevents a needed reconsideration. That reconsideration might attract new voters among working Americans. In short, the alliance with big business is now an anchor, dragging the conservative movement down.

Even with our own tenuous attachment to political parties, Christians should care because we currently do not have good options for effecting change in our two-party system. The Democratic Party is the political party of secular humanism. The Republican Party, fallen as all political vehicles are, is the natural home for those who value a Christian-influenced nation, who desire to protect life at all ages, who stand committed to strengthening families and communities from disorder and decay, and who reject the rule of totalitarian bureaucracies. But to remain that home, it must discard the corporatism that is strangling its heart and repelling its voters—and that starts with ending the overwhelming influence of the chambers of commerce.


Russell Vought

Russ Vought is the president and founder of the Center for Renewing America and Citizens for Renewing America. Russ served as the 42nd director of the Office of Management and Budget under President Donald Trump. Prior to serving in the Trump administration, Russ spent nearly 20 years working in Washington, D.C., in Congress and with grassroots and public policy organizations. Russ graduated from Wheaton College in 1998 and from George Washington University Law School in 2004.


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