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Do Wall Street Democrats Prefer Trump to Warren?

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One of the many disgusting things of the Trump era has been the willingness of Republicans to enable the disastrous actions of a deranged dictator as long as Trump serves their ideological and partisan purposes. They have been willing to rearrange and reverse major aspects of their supposed ideology, from fiscal balance to states’ rights to free trade to containment of Russia.

Even when it comes to impulsive and catastrophic decisions like Trump’s recent blunder in letting the Turks and Syrians have their way with our most loyal and essential Mideast ally, the Kurds, Republicans have criticized the policy but not broken with its author (hate the sin, love the sinner).

Well, gentle reader, it’s about to get worse.

It isn’t only Republicans who are totally opportunistic when it comes to the Republic. It’s corporate Democrats. And as Joe Biden slowly sinks, there are growing rumblings from Wall Street that if Elizabeth Warren is the nominee, many corporate Democrats might back Trump.

Like their Republican brethren, many would place their profit machine ahead of keeping America a democracy. (I keep waiting for the Wall Street Democrat front groups to pledge to support the Democratic nominee.)

Don’t forget that when Barack Obama issued the mildest of rebukes and the most moderate of remedies, corporate Democrats were outraged. Having caused the worst and most costly financial collapse since the Great Depression, their feelings were hurt.

I wrote a book last year called Can Democracy Survive Global Capitalism? Let me give you the punch-line: Yes, but only if we have a lot less capitalism.

Many people from Friedrich Hayek to the Friedmans (Milton and Tom) have insisted that capitalism and democracy are natural allies. History shows that this is hogwash.

The great gains of the 20th century for democracy came precisely by constraining capitalism. And capitalists have been all too happy to co-exist with brutal dictators, in Latin America, in African, in China—and now in America.

Indeed, in the 1930s Germany’s capitalist elite helped put Hitler in office. And in  1936, when the French socialist, Leon Blum, a Jew, led a popular front government, the slogan of the French right was “Better Hitler than Blum.”

For some on Wall Street, the slogan might as well be “Better Trump than Warren.” And there may well be another tactical option—a Wall Street Democrat, running either as an independent or for the party nomination.

Exhibit A is Michael Bloomberg. The socially liberal, economically reactionary billionaire is the last thing that this political moment needs. It was an economy rigged for the rich that created the backlash that brought us Trump. All the gun control and all the social liberalism in the world won’t fix that, and will even worsen it, if combined with Bloomberg’s pro-Wall Street policies.

Earlier, Bloomberg, after flirting with a run, announced that he would not make the presidential race. But in the past 48 hours, he has been leaking to various news outlets that if Biden keeps fading, he may well get in.

The failure of fellow billionaire Tom Steyer, who is rather more liberal than Bloomberg to gain any traction in the Democratic field, suggests that Bloomberg would run as in independent. I share the view of my colleague David Dayen that Bloomberg is unlikely to be elected president. But he could still do a lot of damage, running as a spoiler.

In a three-way race, it’s not clear whether Bloomberg would draw more votes from traditional Republicans or from centrist Democrats. But if the Trump hard core is an unwavering 40 percent, Bloomberg could end up re-electing Trump. And though corporate Democrats might not come to Trump’s second inaugural, they would not be unhappy. Expect them to back Bloomberg in droves.

Should Bloomberg enter the race, it’s all the more urgent for Warren to run the most mobilizing, energizing progressive campaign in the history of the country, so that the people can defeat the billionaires, whether on one flank or two.

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