Political chain reactions were initiated last week with consequences that could flow through the years.
Republicans could refuse to study and apply the lessons of the Scott Brown U.S. Senate campaign in Massachusetts in other races. The GOP could stick with 20th-century technology and with message mavens from 2006 and 2008.
Or, Democrats could tack quickly back to the center of the political mainstream, abandoning Obamacare and cap-and-tax, selling GM back into private hands and slashing spending to sustainable levels while extending some of the Bush tax cuts as a genuine incentive for job creation. Not likely, but we can dream.
No matter what the parties and their candidates do, however, the real choice now rests with the boards and senior management of America’s suddenly-free-to-speak-on-politics corporations. If many of them choose to use the First Amendment rights that were restored to them by last week’s Supreme Court decision to push for the election of candidates committed to the preservation of dynamic democratic capitalism, the already-massive shift in American politics back to Reaganism could accelerate.
Will chairmen and chief executives take the steps now open to them to help correct the nation’s economic course?
Many of them heard President Barack Obama’s wild attacks on the financial sector last week and understood it to be the first round in a desperate political appeal to the hard-left wing of Democrats to rally to the president’s faltering standing and to attempt to harness the populism coursing through the country.
Corporate leadership will have to act decisively, and with an eye on protecting their brand and their business operations. Transparency will be key, and the very best brains of the political-business-legal-media world should be advising. Determining a corporate political strategy isn’t a job for old Washington, D.C., insiders or off-the-rack political consultants with candidates to push and old ties to favor.
It requires first a theory of why the company will choose to intervene (or not), and then a strategy to do so effectively. The budget should match the priority assigned to protecting the rule of law from the sort of shifts that are even now imperiling many basic American industries.
The Supreme Court has invited corporate America to fight for its economic life. The question is which of the companies will rise to that challenge and not delegate it to the Beltway wizards who brought them Obamacare and cap-and-tax, and declared them the best that could be done?
Imagine where the economy would be if the D.C. consulting elites had told their clients to fight rather than bargain on terms of surrender.
Let’s hope that in boardrooms across America, senior leadership is busy convening conversations about the next 10 months and their role in it. You don’t get many second chances in politics. Scott Brown and the First Amendment have given enthusiasts of democratic capitalism just such a chance.
Examiner columnist Hugh Hewitt is a law professor at Chapman University Law School and a nationally syndicated radio talk show host who blogs daily at www.hughhewitt.com.