News accounts in a number of media outlets say business leaders and organizations are angry with the Republican Party’s role in bringing about the government shutdown. Some writers have conjectured that the long-term effect of the shutdown effort will sever traditional ties between business and the GOP.
Is there a threat that the business community will reconsider its historical relationship with the Republican Party?
There’s no question many in business are upset with the shutdown and many business leaders are unhappy with the hardline position taken by the Republicans, particularly Tea Party members. One writer surmised what a business leader might say, paraphrasing a Ronald Reagan quote: “I didn’t leave the Republican Party; the Republican Party left me.”
Business organizations opposed the shutdown. The United States Chamber of Commerce sent a letter opposing the shutdown to members of Congress that was signed by 250 organizations including both the California Chamber of Commerce and the Los Angeles Chamber of Commerce.
It’s hardly a surprise that business organizations oppose the shutdown and don’t support the lack of compromise. Business people, by the nature of what they do, are dealmakers. Ideologues are not. The core of legislators from both parties who say they refuse to bend on principles are not the kind of legislators business leaders are counting on to find a compromise to end the shutdown.
Clearly, business organizations support GOP efforts to reduce regulation and create a business friendly environment. Campaign contributions from the United States Chamber of Commerce make the point. In the 2012 election, the Chamber spent over $35-million in federal elections, Democrats received only $300,000.
Some would ask: Where would business donors go if they quit supporting Republicans? Fund Democrats with whom they often don’t see eye-to-eye?
Business won’t abandon the Republican Party. There are too many issues in which the general business interests line up with Republican philosophy. But frustration over the shutdown may convince business donors to look for more pragmatic Republicans or middle-of-the-road Democrats to support with their campaign dollars.
Look no further than California to see how business could react. A number of business organizations have looked for Democratic candidates that support a business agenda in a state where it’s tough to elect Republicans in many districts.
Nationally, some business donors might consider funding candidates who are more willing to compromise.
It is clear that the relationship between business and Republicans has been strained by the shutdown. It is also certain that anti-business actions by Democrats could quickly bring business back into the Republican fold.
For now, Republicans have some fence mending in store with the business community when the shutdown ends.