June 7, 2021 | Reading Time: 3 minutes
When treason is profitable, it’s legitimate
The business PACs are back in business.
Roll Call reported that political action committees (PACs) have restarted making contributions to members of the United States Congress. This includes the 147 Republicans who voted against certifying Electoral College votes after the militant storming of the United States Capitol. Cash to both parties mostly stopped in the weeks after the insurgency, but it’s flowing again, according to Kate Ackley. With enough time gone by, these PACs apparently think it’s OK to fund politicians who stood against, and who are still standing against, the union of the United States.
The biggest contributors come from defense, commodities and land development (real estate and construction), politically conservative sectors of the economy historically in favor of the Republicans. Last month saw a cash surge from “top business and industry PACs,” Ackley said, including “major defense contractors such as General Dynamics, as well as Duke Energy, American Crystal Sugar Co. and PACs connected with the Associated Builders and Contractors and the National Association of Realtors.”
In a just world, the very obscenely rich would stop funding 147 traitors in the United States Congress out of fear of incentivizing and normalizing their treasonable conduct.
The realty PAC seemed so concerned about appearing to fund 147 lawfully elected traitors to the United States Constitution that it emphasized the word “bipartisan” in a statement to the public, as if giving money to both parties, however evenly, somehow absolves the GOP’s very obscenely rich donors from bothering to do the moral labor of telling the difference between America’s friends and America’s enemies. It “is proud to be one of the largest, most bipartisan political action committees in the country and will continue to engage in a bipartisan way on behalf of our 1.4 million members.”1
This use of “bipartisanship” could be moral if the parties were equally dedicated to the republic’s protection and preservation. But that is nowhere near the case. One of the parties is now almost completely anti-democratic. It is going about rigging state election laws in order to overturn national election results if need be. This use of “bipartisanship” is not just cynical. It’s anti-moral. It tells us that some of the very obscenely rich do not care about the country any more than the Republicans do, as long as they get to influence who’s running it and who’s willing to play along.
Worst of all, “bipartisanship” in this context expands the scope of conflict such that anything is permissible as long as the politics are right. It might be bad to financially support co-conspirators after an attempted coup d’etat by a sitting president, but wait a few months, after the headlines cool off, and you can go back to funding them again. One party stands for republican democracy. One stands against it. These are not equal, but insisting they are, and then adding the weight of cold-hard campaign cash, means treasonable conduct isn’t just optional in our politics. It’s legitimately optional.
It’s important to point out the GOP’s effort to legitimize treason, because the GOP has stopped seeing “others” as legitimately American. “Others” include racial, religious and sexual minorities, as has always been the case, but it’s more now. They include Democrats, liberals, independents and anti-Trump conservatives, which constitute roughly a majority of the country. In 2008, with the election of a Black president, the Republicans began debiting deference to the authority of the democratic will. Those accounts stand empty. The GOP refuses completely to consent to rule by Democrats.
This refusal to defer to the authority of the democratic will was so strong it was permissible, in 2016, for the Russians to hurt the Democrat candidate. That the Russians were violating our sovereignty was of no concern to Mitch McConnell, the Senate majority leader. It has not been a concern for the GOP since. While most people recognize that Republicans are Americans, the Republicans do not act in kind. To the Republicans, anyone who is not a Republican is a Democrat, which means you’re an illegitimate, perhaps even illegal, person. Asking the Republicans to consent to the authority of the democratic will is, in effect, an outrage justifying insurrection.
In a just world, the very obscenely rich people who give millions of untraceable dollars to PACs, which in turn hide their identities from public scrutiny, would stop funding traitors for fear of incentivizing and thus normalizing their treasonable conduct. (In a just world, PACs would be illegal.) But we live in this world, one in which cynical party actors don’t believe in anything but keeping up appearances for the purpose of doing whatever the hell they want. In this world, the backsliding of democracy into the fascist collectivism of one-party rule is not only OK. It might even be profitable.
John Stoehr is the editor of the Editorial Board. He writes the daily edition. Find him @johnastoehr.