Here’s a headline worth noting: “Democrats beat Republicans in 2005 Fund-Raising on Wall Street.” My suspicion has always been that the Democratic Party has snuggled ever closer to the financial industry over the past decade partly because it’s one of the few corporate sectors that doesn’t conflict in an obvious way with any other major liberal interest group.
Democrats have to get corporate donations from somewhere, the thinking goes, and the financial sector doesn’t usually clash overtly with labor unions. It’s not part of the military-industrial complex. It doesn’t pillage the environment. It screws over ordinary voters in opaque and non-obvious ways. What’s not to like? Indeed, it’s a pretty natural ally for a “liberal” party in dire need of campaign cash.
The downside is that a party that jumps in bed with the financial sector is going to end up backing the sorts of anti-progressive measures—from the recent bankruptcy bill, to financial deregulation, to inflation targeting by the Fed—that all strike me as just as malignant, if not more so, than, say, an energy company donating to Tom DeLay in exchange for the right to pollute or pour MTBE into our drinking water or whatever. And increasingly, the Democrats are doing just that. In some ways, it would almost be preferable if, say, Hillary Clinton was getting her money from ExxonMobil and Halliburton, rather than Citigroup and MetLife. (Okay, probably not, but you get my point…)