What's Good for Business: Business and American Politics since World War II

What's Good for Business: Business and American Politics since World War II

What's Good for Business: Business and American Politics since World War II

What's Good for Business: Business and American Politics since World War II

Synopsis

This volume showcases the most exciting new voices in the fields of business and political history. While the media frequently warns of the newfound power of business in the world of politics, the authors in this book demonstrate that business has mobilized to shape public policy and government institutions, as well as electoral outcomes, for decades. Rather than assuming that business influence is inevitable, the chapters explore the complex evolution of this relationship in a wide range of different arenas--from attempts to create a corporate-friendly tax policy and regulations that would work in the interests of particular industries, to local boosterism as a weapon against New Deal liberalism, to the nexus between evangelical Christianity and the oil industry, to the frustrations that business people felt in struggles with public interest groups. The history that emerges show business actors organizing themselves to affect government in myriad ways, sometimes successfully but other times with outcomes far different than they hoped for.

The result in an image of American politics that is more complex and contested than it is often thought to be. The essays represent a new trend in scholarship on political economy, one that seeks to break down the barriers that once separated old subfields to offer a vision of the economy as shaped by politics and political life influenced by economic relationships.

Excerpt

Kim Phillips-Fein and Julian E. Zelizer

Early in 2010, the Supreme Court struck down legal century-old restrictions on corporate donations to political campaigns, finding that restricting business contributions to fund political advertisements during election campaign was a violation of the First Amendment. the ruling in Citizens United vs. the Federal Election Commission—which satisfied long-standing efforts to overturn such bans—caused manyto warn of a new era of business dominance over national politics, and it brought questions about business influence in politics to the forefront of the country’s attention. “With a single, disastrous 5-to-4 ruling, the Supreme Court has thrust politics back to the robber baron age of the nineteenth century,” opined the New York Times.

While there is no doubt that the Citizens United decision has affected the contemporary political landscape, this volume demonstrates that the Court’s ruling was only one recent development in a long history of the political mobilization of business. This book examines the attempts of business to influence elections, shape legislation, determine regulations, and contribute to the creation of public opinion since the end of World War II. Rather than assuming the power of business in politics, the authors whose work appears in these pages try to unpack the evolution of this relationship. the history of business in political life that emerges from these pages is not a simple story of corporate power easily and unquestioningly exercised; instead, the stories told here show business actors organizing themselves to affect government in myriad different ways, resulting in an image of American politics that is more complex and contested than it often has been thought to be.

Few would argue with the idea that businesses have been profoundly affected by the labor, regulatory, and fiscal policies of government at the federal, state . . .

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