Charles G. and David H. Koch are evil and a menace to society. This is what a Progressive friend told me when the subject of these donors to conservative political causes was mentioned. Senator Harry Reid (D-Nevada) agrees with this assessment. Recently in a speech on the Senate floor, the Democratic Majority leader condemned the two brothers’ participation in the political process as private citizens.
The only reason I have even a minor interest in the Koch duo is that last week a reader of Halfway to Concord linked my opposition to California’s stringent environmental laws to being a shill for the right wing billionaires. Since their activities were largely unknown to me, I checked on-line for further information about the infamous pair.
According to Wikipedia:
The Koch Brothers are the sons of Fred C. Koch who founded Koch Industries; the second-largest privately held company in the United States of which they own 84%. Having bought out two other brother’s interests, they remain in control of the family business
The brothers fund organizations advocating lower personal and corporate income taxes, minimal social services and less oversight of industry (in particular environmental regulation). They actively fund and support organizations that contribute significantly to Republican candidates and that lobby against universal health care and climate change regulation.
On the surface there seems to be little difference between the two brothers and nameless others who throw vast amounts of money into the political process, including some rich guy named George Soros. It would be impossible for me to pull the Koch’s faces off a line-up even were they to appear in an episode of America’s Most Wanted.
After reading about the Koch’s it appears they have spent millions of dollars lobbying in Washington D.C. and investing in conservative think tanks such as the Cato Institute. Along with this they were large contributors to Republican candidates on a national and state level.
In the 2012 Presidential Election the Koch’s, thru their privately held company, were a modest 38th in the top 100 contributors. While their activities raised concern with hand-wringing Progressives, no criticism was leveled at public employee unions, the Teamsters, Goldman Sachs, Emily’s List, Bank of America, Postal Workers, or any of the other entities that supported candidates.
Why the big outcry against the Koch Brothers? The only major difference between them and others is their unwavering support of Conservative causes. In this regard, both labor unions and corporations go pretty much unscathed in their efforts as special interests to influence a more “Blue” agenda. In the minds of so-called Progressives, George Soros and Act Blue are depicted as patriots while the Koch’s are viewed as the corruptors of Democracy.
Democratic Party strategists don’t care. In the 2012 elections they vigorously opposed Proposition 32 in California which was a campaign reform measure that would restrict labor unions and corporations influence by not allowing them to make donations to political campaigns without the consent of individual workers.
Democratic operative arguments against this proposal were based upon the premise that if the initiative passed, the Koch Brothers would subvert the election process as we know it. Even though the media blitz against Prop 32 was at best “pretzel logic” the strategy worked as the campaign funding reform measure was soundly defeated.
Ironically, more money was spent defeating Prop 32 than expenditures that Koch interests made to the entire 2012 national campaign. Now who’s the corrupter of Democracy? Go figure.
The bottom line is that in Democratic fundraising circles, mere mention of the notorious brothers is enough to spur liberal fat cats to take out their check books and donate to the cause of defeating so-called right wing extremists. As they say in the trade if the system works, keep going back to the well until it runs dry. Any opposition to the Progressive agenda is now branded as evil, and the Koch brothers are simply a convenient, fat-cat poster child image used to slander any opposition.
Where does this leave me as an honest journalist/blogger that has not been on the take from any political persuasion? Hell, the Koch Brothers have not sent me a Christmas card let alone monetary considerations to curry my favor. If anyone happens to know them, please ask the boys to send some “spare change” in my direction.
Seriously, the whole deal of labor unions, corporations, and other special interests corrupting the political process sickens me. After these groups spent more than seven billion dollars in 2012, I am convinced more than ever that these entities are a bunch of self serving, malodorous leeches. (The Koch Brothers included).
There is no doubt in my mind that the gridlock Americans put up with at virtually every level of Federal and State government is due to corruption brought on by the influence of lobbyists and big money on our democratic process. No end seems in sight.
This is not saying the Teachers Union has more or less the right to support candidates and causes than say Wells Fargo Bank. The first amendment of the US Constitution guarantees free speech to all. This sacred document does not differentiate between race, gender, age, religion, or economic status of anyone.
This is why I protect the rights of Progressives to trash the Koch Brothers, yet it troubles me that that this is being done in such a demagogic way as a vehicle to only further left wing causes. Even more than that I don’t care for the way liberals like to demonize opponents by labeling them as being puppets for conservative activists including the Tea Party.
Maybe the problem is with trying to spend multiple billions of dollars on a political campaign and not having enough issues that resonate with voters to justify the expense. As a result things have digressed to blame it on the bossa nova, (or should we say Koch Brothers). Sadly, political strategy has replaced discussing things that really affect people’s lives. Marshall McLuhan’s theory that “the media is the message” seems to triumph once again.
Perhaps I will be tarred and feathered as a tool of big oil next time I fill up my gas tank? Who knows with these wild-eyed activists who truly believe they alone can separate evil from good.