This post was guest authored by Surina Goel.
The attack on the Capitol on January 6 should not have been a surprise. This was just the latest result of the lucrative war on democracy waged by racist policymakers and funded by powerful Wall Street firms. Wall Street has historically harmed people who are Black, Indigenous, and of color so investors can profit off of white supremacy, and the last election was no exception.
For months, Republican members of Congress have supported Trump’s claims that voter fraud in cities like Atlanta and Detroit (majority-Black cities, not a coincidence) “stole” the election. But suppressing Black votes is not a new story. During the ten years after the civil war, Black people were able to elect numerous numbers of representatives. So what did white supremacists do? Vigilantes suppressed Black votes through violence, intimidation, and voter fraud. Their success in these illegal efforts dramatically reduced the number of Black politicians, making it possible for white-majority governments to enact laws such as literacy tests and poll taxes, solidifying the white supremacist political system that persists to this day.
In January, 147 members of Congress continued this long legacy when they voted to prevent certifying the election of President Biden. These votes effectively endorsed Trump’s racist lie of voter fraud. But these members did not act alone. Their racist attempt to suppress Black votes was carried out while standing on piles of Wall Street money. Here are just a few examples:
Wall Street filled the pockets of House Republicans who voted against Biden’s confirmation, giving $2.4 million to Rep. Steve Scalise, the Republican whip, and $1.4 million to Rep. Lee Zeldin, among others.
Finance, insurance, and real estate gave $45.8 million to Republican Big Lie believers in the last election cycle, more than any other industry sector. In contrast, industries like air travel and electric utilities gave around $4 million each.
Rep. Kevin McCarthy, the senior Republican supposed to set the example for his party in the House, received $673,000 from the industry’s PACs and $2.8 million from employees of finance-related companies.
As usual, when it’s time to be accountable, Wall Street firms are quick to distance themselves from the consequences of their actions. Major firms such as J.P Morgan and Citigroup have paused all PAC donations, Republican or Democrat. While getting Wall Street money out of politics sounds welcome, it’s hard not to notice how this allows these firms to avoid acknowledging the damage they did by funding the 147 members who sought to overturn democracy.
This last-ditch attempt to separate themselves from a sinking ship is too little too late. Wall Street firms must be held accountable for the mess they made.