Wall Street Is Republican

I used to be sort of interested in the stock market. That was before I took up stock trading as a hobby, which absorbed much of my attention and much of my money for a few years before I gave it up for less demanding recreational pursuits.

Anyway, long before I began my dabbling in the market, I was a regular watcher of Wall Street Week with Louis Rukeyser, who impressed me as a knowledgeable and level-headed commentator and interviewer of Wall Street analysts. Above all he was congenial. He regularly displayed a preference for standard free-market and capitalist principles, but it never had an ideological or partisan hard edge. He was also skeptical; on a weekly basis, Lou would stress that market prognosticators could hardly be expected to predict anything with sufficient accuracy to make themselves worth listening to. It wasn’t that he didn’t feature market forecasting and stock picks. Of course these were essential to the show. But there was no sure thing. One watched WSW more to enjoy Rukeyser’s humor than to get any solid tips. Predictions were always offered with the implicit “that’s just what this guy thinks” and usually the guests were aware of their own fallibility.

Maybe that was why it was jarring when the esteemed guest of the week back in 1992 commented on the approaching presidential election with an emphatic  “We have to reelect this president.”

Really? We had to reelect George H. W.  Bush? We all had to do that? The guest needed it, Lou Rukeyser needed it, the audience needed it? The economy needed it. That’s what this guy was saying.

That’s when I learned how married Wall Street was to the Republican Party. Though I don’t doubt that many of the guests on Wall Street Week over the years had Democratic leanings, and I’m sure most of the Republican-aligned ones at least had more sense than to openly alienate viewers who were not admirers of the Grand Old Party, here was a respectable expert apparently comfortable with the notion that there was a right party for investors, and it was the Republican Party. I think that was the prevailing view on Wall Street then, and it seems to be so today.

I don’t expect any Democratic president or congress to bring catastrophe to Wall Street. The financial kingpins manage that themselves, or with Republican assistance. And when disaster comes, it turns out that the Democratic Party stands ready to save the day after all. But Wall Streeters, even those who aren’t blatant Republican shills, do seem to worry about Democrats taking them down a peg and diverting a few millions out of the bankers’ and brokers’ billions, to benefit the broader public. If that’s true, more reason for me to support the Democrats.

Next year, we have to reelect this president.


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