Photo credit: frankieleon via Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

The Rise of the Big Business Democrats


There was a time, not long ago, when Democrats commonly accused the Republican Party of being the “Party of Big Business.” Republicans, or so it was claimed, cared more about corporate interests than those of the average voter, while Democrats were supposedly looking out for the little guy.

During this election season, however, there has been a substantial — and yet barely noticed — change in Democratic rhetoric. Rather than vilifying big businesses, many Democratic leaders and candidates have started to openly trumpet their high regard for the priorities of the corporate world.

Why this sudden change? Because Big Business has finally gotten on the “Right Side of History”TM — in other words, the progressive side.

Just consider a few recent examples.

In Indiana earlier this week, John Gregg, the Democratic candidate for governor, was asked in an interview to discuss LGBT rights issues in light of the recent controversy over the state’s Religious Freedom Restoration Act. In defending his support for the LGBT agenda, Gregg framed it as “an economic issue” and went on to explain how high a priority it is for business:

It’s a top five issue in the Chamber of Commerce. I’ve heard it in Eli Lilly’s executive suite. I’ve heard it in Hillenbrand’s executive suite, who’s another one of our major corporate citizens. I’ve heard it in Salesforce’s executive suites. We have to do that….

Or consider the case in Louisiana, where the state’s attorney general announced yesterday he would be pursuing a legal challenge to Governor John Bel Edwards’ attempt to unilaterally change state anti-discrimination law, charging that the governor surpassed his constitutional authority. Edwards, a Democrat, responded by defending his actions in economic terms, arguing that his executive orders made the state more business-friendly and pointing to the NBA’s recent decision to move its All-Star Game to New Orleans.

Or consider North Carolina, which, of course, was where that game was originally slated to occur, though the NBA decided to move it after Gov. Pat McCrory and the legislature refused to be bullied into repealing House Bill 2, the state’s much discussed “bathroom bill.” That topic came up again in Tuesday’s final gubernatorial debate, where Democratic challenger Roy Cooper attacked McCrory for causing “economic damage” to North Carolina — a creative way to spin McCrory’s refusal to surrender to corporate threats. Cooper then went on to explain how he had worked hard to bring large companies to the state in order to “help us fight House Bill 2.”

Noticing a common theme? While Democrats once used to vilify Big Business, they now cite corporate approval as a prime reason for advancing their social agenda. Because, obviously, if Big Business supports something, it must surely be the right thing to do!

Although there may have been a time when the Democratic Party truly cared about the interests of the little guy, as this election is making clear, that time has passed.

Photo credit: frankieleon via Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

Paul Dupont

Paul Dupont is editor of

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