GOP Insiders Warn Companies Woke Leftism Paving Way for Corporate-Free Populist Republican Party

AP Photo/Lynne Sladky
AP Photo/Lynne Sladky

A shift in the corporate world with big American companies embracing so-called “woke” leftist policies along with increased retirements among the old guard of the GOP is fueling a populist surge inside the Republican Party, a new memo from GOP insiders reveals.

The memo from CGCN, a government affairs firm staffed by top GOP insiders, is titled: “The Party They’ll Get, Not the Party They Want.”

In the memo, which has no named author, CGCN warns the “business community” that their previous allies in the Republican Party are moving on from protecting business interests to instead focusing on populist priorities of protecting American workers. As the GOP shifts downward away from the elites and towards the everyman, the memo notes, the Democrats in Washington continue their efforts to punish companies with tax hikes and regulatory burdens. In other words, companies may be left with nobody to defend them or their interests—all because they decided to abandon neutrality in favor of woke leftism, fighting culture wars that have driven Republicans away from them back toward the refreshed GOP base while Democrats will never reward them for being woke enough.

“For the business community, the news that President Biden is considering the first major tax increase since 1993 was probably unsurprising,” the CGCN memo opens. “And maybe not so troubling, given that it will be difficult to pass in a nearly evenly divided Congress. But when that news is juxtaposed to Sen. Roy Blunt’s (R-MO) recently announced retirement, it might be time for concern. The reason is straightforward: Blunt’s retirement, along with Senators Portman (R-OH), Burr (R-NC), Shelby (R-AL), and Toomey (R-PA) creates greater political space for the GOP’s younger, insurgent populists to flex their muscles.  This suggests, among other things, trouble ahead for the tried-and-true coalition of Republicans and corporate America—and the issues they care about.”

That “coalition” of the GOP and corporate America, the memo continues, “reliably fought what they viewed as big government, anti-free-market policies” for “decades.”

“Along with conservative talk radio and think tanks, it comprised the heart of the GOP,” the CGCN memo says. “At least on some issues, this union will likely endure for the policy fights ahead. But evidence suggests an unraveling is coming. GOP populists in Congress are often frustrated by (in their view) woke CEOs embracing avant-garde social agendas. The upshot, especially for policy, is a party increasingly unwilling to listen simultaneously to corporate priorities on, say, tax and trade policy, alongside their CEOs latest cultural forays. What does that mean for tax policy, and much else? For one thing, a party that once made cutting corporate income taxes a standard policy trope may be fading from view. Trump may be out of office, but his legacy, which GOP members indelibly embraced through letters, press releases, votes, and op-eds, lives on. In good measure thanks to Trump (and his U.S. Trade Representative, Bob Lighthizer), the GOP no longer accepts the inevitable tradeoffs of free trade and globalization.”

This is a notable memo because partners at CGCN include Sam Geduldig, a former staffer for Blunt—the retiring Missouri senator—and former House Speaker John Boehner, as well as former Trump White House adviser Michael Catanzaro. Also on the team are former Mitt Romney adviser Matt Rhoades—a heavyweight behind the scenes in GOP politics—as well as other top advisers to current and former House and Senate GOP leaders like Kevin McCarthy, Eric Cantor, Boehner, and more.

Put more simply: These guys are the insiders in the GOP who are the movers and shakers behind the scenes in Washington, and their recognition as stated in this memo that the Republican Party is ditching Wall Street and embracing Main Street—while Democrats continue their assault on American corporations and companies—is significant. Geduldig will make an appearance on Breitbart News Saturday on SiriusXM 125 the Patriot Channel this weekend to discuss the memo and more broadly the future of the GOP as populists and how Trump supporters seem to have won the war inside the GOP for the reins of the party.

As this shift happens, the CGCN memo argues, Republicans are less interested in protecting corporations and their wishes and more interested in pushing the needs of American workers.

“Moreover, supply-side orthodoxy, especially on spending and taxes, no longer commands the reflexive support it once did,” the memo reads. “This is not to say that Republicans favor more spending or higher taxes across the board. But for the populist GOP, ‘America First’ is about putting the ‘American worker’ before those concerned about corporate bottom lines. Longtime GOP leaders such as Sen. Blunt (think also of former Speakers Boehner and Ryan) have been squarely within the GOP’s mainstream. They represented a solid core of the party’s business-minded establishment, which enjoyed considerable influence over the party’s major economic and financial concerns.”

“But the nation’s political, economic, and cultural landscape has rapidly, and radically, changed underneath them,” it continues. “A younger generation of GOP leaders-in-waiting has seized on these changes and their implications for the party’s future. Where one sits on the political spectrum has reliably been determined by class.  As these new leaders see it, that seat for Republicans is no longer ‘the country club.’ And with the party in thrall to former President Trump, and a conservative base feeling besieged by cancel culture, congressional Republicans are responding to constituents’ grievances about a country they don’t recognize. These members are growing not just in number, but in influence.”

On the other side of the internal battle for the heart and soul of the Republican Party is the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. Neil Bradley, the Chamber’s Executive Vice President and Chief Policy Officer, has helped the Chamber endorse a slew of House Democrats in the 2020 congressional elections. The endorsements, which were largely a wash and did not end up helping Democrats, cost the Chamber of Commerce serious credibility inside the GOP to the point where several Republicans on Capitol Hill actually refer to Bradley as “Kneel Bradley” as a joke that he kneels, or surrenders, to the left.

As Breitbart News previously reported, Bradley’s fall from grace—he used to be a top GOP insider who worked for the late former Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK) as well as GOP insiders like McCarthy and Cantor—is nothing short of remarkable. The Democrat endorsements, which coincided with already waning influence of the U.S. Chamber, have turned the business community lobbying operation into a laughingstock among Republicans.

“The Chamber’s political apparatus has been destroyed,” a GOP insider told Breitbart News previously. “Donors are fleeing, no one trusts them anymore.”

The Chamber’s demise comes as its longtime top political hand Scott Reed left the organization last fall before the 2020 elections, and its president and CEO Tom Donohue stepped down this year.

Bradley has not replied to a request for comment in response to the CGCN memo and has not answered when asked about the nickname “Kneel Bradley” that Republicans use to mock him in private all over Capitol Hill. He also has not answered when offered an opportunity to come on Breitbart News Saturday on SiriusXM 125 the Patriot Channel this weekend after Geduldig to address his views on the future of the GOP amid the dwindling relevance of the Chamber of Commerce.

But the CGCN memo does directly confront the Chamber, citing nationally syndicated radio host Hugh Hewitt—whose program often attracts top GOP insiders and tends to mirror reflect whatever powerful Republican lawmakers are thinking on any given major issue.

“Conservative radio host Hugh Hewitt last week issued a remarkable broadside against the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, in which he tweeted, ‘The embrace of Democrats in campaigns failed, betraying its members and its legacy. Time to revolt Main Street. It’s the Chamber of Beltway Buddies, not Commerce,’” the CGCN memo continues. “Note here that Hewitt is not a right-wing firebrand, but a sober-minded member of the GOP’s establishment and a regular commentator on Meet the Press. He is conservative, no doubt, but not in league with Sean Hannity, Dan Bongino, or Mark Levin. He may have offended NBC’s corporate sponsors, but he was also playing to his listeners’ views. That he is playing at all suggests something is afoot.”

The memo continues by citing actions of a number of rising Republican stars in the Senate—from Sens. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) to Josh Hawley (R-MO) to National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC) Chairman Rick Scott (R-FL)—and how they reflect this growing change inside the party.

“The corporate-Main Street divide may have been a convenient cliché invoked by both parties to strike a populist note,” the memo says. “But for the GOP, it is slowly becoming a fact of political life. It might be too early to characterize this churn as some grand ‘realignment.’ But it’s safe to say that the likes of Sen. Josh Hawley (R-MO), Sen. Rick Scott (R-FL), and Sen. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) are more aligned with the party’s conservative base on key economic issues than the Republican generation that preceded them. Hawley, Scott, Blackburn and others have tapped into the party’s anti-Big Business bent, which seems relatively indifferent to an increase in capital gains and corporate income taxes.”

It then concludes by highlighting a minimum wage hike plan that Sens. Tom Cotton (R-AR) and Mitt Romney (R-UT) offered recently as a counter to Democrats’ efforts to do so. Cotton’s and Romney’s proposal would hike the minimum wage to $10 an hour nationally but pair that with a national E-Verify program barring companies from hiring illegal aliens. The CGCN memo states that this would have been a significant development years ago, but now seems run-of-the-mill.

“With this bill, the party’s 2012 presidential nominee (Romney) joined a leading 2024 Republican presidential candidate (Cotton) on a bill requiring a federal minimum wage hike, with immigration policy opposed by corporations,” the CGCN memo says. “Once upon a time, this would have been unthinkable, but it is now fairly unremarkable.”

As a result of all of this, CGCN concludes, the business community must rethink how it handles Republicans—and how it handles “woke” leftist culture war matters—or else be left behind by policymakers in America.

“Whether on issues related to technology and social media, immigration, taxes, trade, and much else, congressional Republicans—many of whom are under the age of 50—are gravitating more and more to the views and demands of their conservative base,” the memo finishes. “As noted, ‘woke-ism’ is a central target of GOP voters, and their younger leaders are attacking what they perceive is its unholy grip on the nation’s major social, cultural, and economic institutions. It’s not clear what this tendency suggests over the long-term, but for now, the business community needs to rethink how it engages the GOP on issues they consider fundamental. Because their list of priorities and the GOP’s may not always overlap in the same way it once did.”

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