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Sunday, January 23, 2022

Sen. Ted Cruz threatens consequences if companies don’t shut up and embrace Republican militancy

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This newest bit is honestly a pitch-perfect demonstration of Republican gaslighting and Ted Cruz’s personal rhetorical style o’ bullshitting; If there are debate teams out there that want an example of what to do when neither the facts, the premise, or the audience is on your side, here you go. The entire first half of the piece is Ted Cruz aggressively pretending that nobody-but-nobody has been able to find anything tawdry about new Republican-backed Georgia laws that throw up new obstacles to voting, instead insisting that none of these “woke” monsters of raw corporate capitalism know anything about the Georgia Republican Unicorn and Rainbows and Puppies For Everyone Act of 2021.

All this, of course, is gaslighting nonsense. Critics of the Georgia Republican moves to take more control over elections, sharply curtail absentee balloting, demand identification at more points during the process, allow reduced early voting hours, and so on have been quite able to list out each specific measure they are objecting to, and both published press analyses and expert analyses have highlighted the precise details of how those measures will be used to selectively limit voting and challenge election results.

Ted Cruz, who has been a renowned sleazeball his entire public life, mentions or defends exactly none of those well-identified curbs on state voting rights. He simply pretends they don’t exist, bellows about “woke” CEOs “parroting” the “radical left,” and claims victimhood over the whole thing. There is no offered defense of the restrictive measures in the Republican laws because, according to Ted Cruz, none of those things exist and anyone who says they do is a lying radical.

This is truly the essence of modern (non-conservative) Republicanism. Whatever else you can say about Ted here, he’s got it nailed. It is how Sen. Mitch McConnell gives every speech—from the position of amnesiac who has no memory of his past positions, no inkling what his future positions might be, no awareness of what points his political opponents have just made, no awareness of what his own party’s position might be, no recognition of what might actually be in the bill or law he’s blustering about, and comes to the floor solely with a conviction that whatever the last non-Republican in the room said is completely wrong, impossibly radical, and the most shocking thing anyone in Washington, D.C., has ever done, in any year, on any subject.

Ted Cruz’s defense of Republican-pushed voting restrictions is that anyone who complains about them is a “radical” and anyone who believes those complaints is doing so only to suck up to the ultra-powerful leftists who, as everyone knows, are the true powerbrokers of America. That’s it. That’s all.

If the point is not well argued, it is because it is filler. It is there to take up space while Cruz winds up to make his real point, which is that powerful corporate CEOs are being mean to him and his insurrection-boosting party of sex fiends and ultracranks and he is not going to take it anymore.

“For too long, woke CEOs have been fair-weather friends to the Republican Party.”

Oh, for sure. Heaven knows the true problem facing democracy is that corporate executives these days are just far too woke. It’s the topic of every diner discussion in America.

“For too long, Republicans have allowed the left and their big-business allies to attack our values with no response.”

You probably didn’t know that the left has big business in their pockets, but that is because you are not Ted Cruz. Also, Ted Cruz wants you to know that over the last decade he’s gotten $2.6 million in corporate PAC donations, because LEFTISM.

Also, I think “values” here is the stand-in word for “bigotries.” Whenever a Republican starts talking about their “values,” it usually means that a commercial featured a biracial couple or gay fathers or three ethnic-looking people in a row or some other pants-wetting sin against conservative tradition and we’re all going to have to hear about it for the next two months.

Anyway, Ted Cruz says he will “no longer accept money from any corporate PAC,” which is a particularly bold stance to take mere months after corporate PACs pledged to stop giving him money after that whole ‘violent insurrection premised on Ted Cruz’s lies’ thing happened. He also “urges” other Republicans to not take filthy corporate money either.

This is going to be fun to watch, mainly to see how many hours it lasts. Let’s go out on a limb and predict that Ted Cruz will rescind his vow to take corporate money exactly three minutes after corporate political donors decide that their pause on giving Ted Cruz money has lasted long enough.

But I said Cruz’s little screed was Republicanism encapsulated, and I meant it. We close out Cruz’s extremely noble tantrum with a flat-out threat to the corporations that Republicans have obsessively deregulated and cut taxes for. It turns out that these past obsessions were not, in fact, the manifestation of deep ideological beliefs about the role of our corporate betters and what they should and should not be allowed to get away with. They were just favors being paid out, and ones that can just as easily be withheld:

“When the time comes that you need help with a tax break or a regulatory change, I hope the Democrats take your calls, because we may not. Starting today, we won’t take your money either.”

It’s not quite as fabulously insipid as Mitch McConnell’s warning to companies that they need to stay out of political debates, except when it comes to giving his allies checks, but it’s certainly greasier.

You will note, dear reader, that the entire modern history of the Republican Party can be summarized as tenuous partnership between the corporate and the rich on one side, and a crude nativist base on the other. Since the aftermath of the Civil Rights movement, this has been the means by which Republicanism has survived even as it shed all other ideological pretenses. Industries and individuals wanting tax cuts or fewer restrictions on what they can get away with provide the money; the money is used to flood the nativist base with cheap cultural messages blaming immigrants, nonwhites, hidden “globalists,” People Of Not Your Religion or other targets for all societal ills. It has never changed, not for even one election, from the Reagan days onward.

As the party embraced more and more radical versions of nativism and white nationalism—and, more pointedly, began to use hoaxes and false propaganda as major election strategy—the partnership has begun to fray. It turns out that a half-million pandemic deaths, the accompanying economic misery, and especially the destabilization of government via violent insurrection are all catastrophically bad things for the U.S. business climate. It is one thing to lock in a sweet corporate tax rate; it is entirely another when a fascist mob shows up inside the Capitol looking to hang their opponents and install a white nationalist autocracy.

At that point, even Coca-Cola begins to worry that widespread national violence might cut into canned sugar water sales.

What Republicans aren’t getting, mostly because the party is staffed with gaslighting twits like Ted Cruz who believe any strategic party problem can be worked around by just lying with a bit more conviction than the last time around, is that giant money-printing American corporations are indeed becoming just a wee bit alarmed that their half-century trade, destabilizing the country in exchange for each round of tax cuts, looks to be inching toward a point of no return. No company gives a damn about the societal impacts of new Jim Crow-premised laws in Georgia or other states: That is not their job or their concern. They do care, deeply, if political radicalism in Georgia turns their mere presence in the state into a public relations catastrophe.

Ted. Buddy. When even Republicanism’s stuffiest and most calculating allies are backing away from you due to promoting violence-producing hoaxes, embracing white nationalist themes, and challenging the very premises of democratic rule, maybe the problem is not the rampaging wokeness of corporate boardrooms. Maybe the problem is you.

Before anyone gets too excited here, it still seems unlikely that corporate America will truly abandon Republicanism, even after the party turned into an explicitly fascist force. America’s largest corporations are headed, to a person, by the upper-upper class, and there is no principle more enduring among the ultrarich than the demand that they absolutely under no circumstances be obliged to pay out the same percentages of their income that the lowly peons sweeping the hallways are subjected to. When the question has been posed directly, through our own history—would you rather have democracy itself collapse, or keep tax rates low?—the gilded class has certainly been of middling opinions at best.

But Republican governance has, of late, managed to produce economic collapses, a half-million American deaths, an assault on the Capitol, soaring costs after natural disasters, large-scale infrastructure failures, and generally made a wreck of so many different things, all at once, that nobody is quite even sure what “business as usual” even means anymore.

It is therefore at least possible that Ted Cruz will get his wish, and at least some significant portion of the party’s corporate backers will decide to jettison the current crop of bullshitting Republican incompetents and take their corporate chances with the party promising large-scale investments, new climate and health mega-partnerships, and an end to whatever the hell it is Tucker Carlson keeps going on about.

The first objective of any industry, after all, is survival. Once Ted Cruz’s lies and his party’s relentless bumbling of (gestures widely) absolutely everything and, especially, an actual violent insurrection finally began to trigger corporate fight-or-flight reflexes, the party’s half-century partnership between corporate power and grunting racists began to wobble a little. You can’t sell products to dead people.



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