Robert Reich, a progressive who served as Secretary of Labor under Bill Clinton, spent three weeks in “red” America while on a tour to promote his latest book, “Saving Capitalism: For The Many, Not The Few.” While there, he spoke to a lot of conservative Republicans and Tea Partiers and something odd happened — he discovered that he and they had a lot in common. They both detest big money in politics, “crony capitalism,” factory farms, Wall Street banks, and policies that favor the wealthy over all else…
A surprising number think the economic system is biased in favor of the rich. (That’s consistent with a recent Quinnipiac poll in which 46 percent of Republicans believe “the system favors the wealthy.”)
The more conversations I had, the more I understood the connection between their view of “crony capitalism” and their dislike of government. They don’t oppose government per se. In fact, as the Pew Research Center has found, more Republicans favor additional spending on Social Security, Medicare, education, and infrastructure than want to cut those programs. Rather, they see government as the vehicle for big corporations and Wall Street to exert their power in ways that hurt the little guy.
They call themselves Republicans but many of the inhabitants of America’s heartland are populists in the tradition of William Jennings Bryan.