What would our democracy look like without the influence of corporations and industrialists? It has become nearly impossible to imagine an answer to this question. As the late political scientist Jean Hardisty wrote in 2014, neoliberalism—or deregulated market capitalism — “seeks to replace democracy with oligarchy.” Indeed, corporate money and influence are remaking our democratic institutions, from the dark-money lobbying groups and think tanks pushing limitless deregulation, to individual wealthy donors putting their thumbs on the scales of public policy in state legislatures and using new Voter ID laws to suppress the vote. As progressives contemplate how to build a movement for justice that can effectively counter such forces, it is necessary to understand how the Corporate Right—what we might term the Chamber of Commerce wing of the conservative movement—is collaborating with others on the Right to advance its agenda.
PRA has written much in the past about the Right’s attacks on the most vulnerable groups of working people: women, people of color, and LGBTQ people. We’ve identified several ways that the Corporate Right is partnering with the Christian Right and using its rhetoric to transform our democratic infrastructure and institutions. Even secular free-market think tanks and self-described non-religious libertarian billionaires are dabbling in this moralistic, Christianized messaging. Our research on these trends has helped to inform some of the most effective recent campaigns for economic justice, including the fight for domestic workers’ rights, the fight for paid family leave laws, and the fight for fair wages for restaurant workers.