The Rise of the Big Business Democrats

Photo credit: frankieleon via Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

There was a time, not long ago, when Democrats commonly accused the Republican Party of being the “Party of Big Business.” Republicans, or so it was claimed, cared more about corporate interests than those of the average voter, while Democrats were supposedly looking out for the little guy.

During this election season, however, there has been a substantial — and yet barely noticed — change in Democratic rhetoric. Rather than vilifying big businesses, many Democratic leaders and candidates have started to openly trumpet their high regard for the priorities of the corporate world.

Why this sudden change? Because Big Business has finally gotten on the “Right Side of History”TM — in other words, the progressive side.

Just consider a few recent examples.

In Indiana earlier this week, John Gregg, the Democratic candidate for governor, was asked in an interview to discuss LGBT rights issues in light of the recent controversy over the state’s Religious Freedom Restoration Act. In defending his support for the LGBT agenda, Gregg framed it as “an economic issue” and went on to explain how high a priority it is for business:

It’s a top five issue in the Chamber of Commerce. I’ve heard it in Eli Lilly’s executive suite. I’ve heard it in Hillenbrand’s executive suite, who’s another one of our major corporate citizens. I’ve heard it in Salesforce’s executive suites. We have to do that….

Or consider the case in Louisiana, where the state’s attorney general announced yesterday he would be pursuing a legal challenge to Governor John Bel Edwards’ attempt to unilaterally change state anti-discrimination law, charging that the governor surpassed his constitutional authority. Continue Reading

Will Mike Pence Defend Religious Liberty at Tonight’s VP Debate?

Indiana Gov. Mike Pence (photo credit: Gage Skidmore)

With 2016’s first and only vice presidential debate set to take place tonight, speculation has been building as to what topics will be covered once Mike Pence and Tim Kaine take the stage. While recent campaign controversies will certainly draw the headlines, it’s possible that some policy areas ignored in the first presidential debate, such as religious liberty, may make an appearance as well.

In fact, some on the left, such as the progressive Media Matters for America, are even advocating for debate moderators to query Pence on his religious liberty views, particularly given his involvement in Indiana’s RFRA controversy last year:

Before he was chosen as Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump’s vice presidential running mate, Indiana Gov. Mike Pence was arguably best known for the controversy over the “religious freedom” bill he signed into law in 2015. The continuing nationwide debate over “religious freedom” bills and Pence’s repeated refusal to stake out his position on anti-LGBT discrimination makes the vice presidential debate the perfect opportunity to find out where Pence really stands on so-called “religious freedom” laws.

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The Democratic vice presidential candidate Sen. Tim Kaine (D-VA) has already made it clear that he supports nondiscrimination protections for the LGBT community. The October 4 vice presidential debate gives CBS News’ Elaine Quijano the chance to ask Pence — running as part of a presidential ticket that’s attempted to appeal to LGBT voters — for a definitive answer on whether he supports “religious freedom” legislation that legalizes discrimination against LGBT people.

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Johnson Op-Ed Clarifies One Thing: He Doesn’t Care About Religious Liberty

Former New Mexico Gov. Gary Johnson (photo credit: Gage Skidmore)

Gary Johnson has a religious liberty problem.

One would think, based on the fact Johnson is running as a Libertarian, that the former New Mexico governor would be especially sensitive to the complexities of the debate over religious liberty. After all, freedom of religion is the first freedom enumerated in the Bill of Rights, so it would appear to be an important one.

But Johnson just cannot seem to put forward a thoughtful position on the subject.

Earlier this spring, during a Libertarian Party debate, the candidate was pressed on whether he felt a Jewish baker ought to be forced to bake a Nazi cake against the baker’s religious beliefs — and, incredibly, Johnson answered yes, though his reasons why were unclear. Johnson later backed away from the statement.

Then came the Libertarian’s nearly incomprehensible interview with the Washington Examiner’s Tim Carney, in which Johnson described religious freedom as “a black hole” and made a rather strange comment about Mormonism relating to one person shooting another dead because God told him or her to.

Now, Johnson is attempting to further clarify those remarks in the Mormon-run Deseret News, explaining that the question was “thrown at [him] while walking down a street (in the rain)” and that he believes the country should “strike a balance between our shared American values of religious liberty and freedom from discrimination.”

But while Johnson takes great pains in the piece to assure readers that he respects citizens’ rights “to practice and to express deeply-held religious beliefs” while also opposing attempts to use religion “as a tool to discriminate,” when it comes to details, he once again fails to convey a deeper understanding of the issue. Continue Reading

Democrats Renew Efforts to Push LGBT Agenda in State-Level Races

Democratic candidates for state-level offices across the country think they have found the wedge issue that will win them the election: the LGBT agenda.

Newsmax is reporting that Democrats in North Carolina and Indiana are targeting GOP lawmakers in tough campaigns by charging them with “bigotry.”

“An unprecedented number of North Carolinians are fed up with Gov. McCrory’s partisan political agenda, and voters are ready for a leader who will put the interests of all North Carolinians first,” North Carolina gubernatorial candidate Roy Cooper, a Democrat, said recently.

Photo credit: Intel Free Press via Flickr (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Cooper has also repeatedly lambasted incumbent Governor Pat McCrory over North Carolina’s law regarding transgender bathroom access.

In Indiana, it is much the same story. Democratic candidate John Gregg is attacking Lt. Governor Eric Holcomb’s positions on social issues, tying him to Indiana’s Religious Freedom Restoration Act.

“You really can’t distinguish on paper between Holcomb and Pence. They both support the Religious Freedom Restoration Act and discrimination against the LGBT community,” Gregg told The Wall Street Journal last week.

It is likely the Republican establishment response would be to implement a “truce strategy” of deflecting or ignoring the Democrats’ criticism. But instead of buckling to pressure from the social left and running away from social issues, Republican candidates like McCrory and Holcomb ought to fight to frame the debate in a way that favors their positions.

When Alexander Hamilton and James Madison were fighting to implement the U.S. Constitution in 1787, they were quick to claim the label “federalist” for themselves. Continue Reading