Know anyone who still thinks elections don’t matter?
If so, ask that person why right-wing billionaires like the notorious Koch brothers are prepared to spend up to $400 million on upcoming mid-term congressional races, 60 percent more than on the 2016 election.
Those familiar with Charles and David Koch are aware they are benefactors for libertarian and conservative causes, especially climate change denial.
Independent Vermont senator and 2016 presidential candidate Bernie Sanders sums them up best:
“For the Koch brothers, $80 billion in wealth, apparently, is not good enough. Owning the second largest private company in America is, apparently, not good enough. It doesn’t appear that they will be satisfied until they are able to control the entire political process… It is well known that the Koch brothers have provided the major source of funding to the Tea Party and want to repeal the Affordable Care Act…The agenda of the Koch brothers is to repeal every major piece of legislation that has been signed into law over the past 80 years that has protected the middle class, the elderly, the children, the sick, and the most vulnerable in this country…It is clear that the Koch brothers and other right wing billionaires are calling the shots and are pulling the strings of the Republican Party.”
At a recent annual donor conference in Indian Wells, California, the Koch network celebrated policy enacted under President Donald Trump, most notably the most drastic changes to the American tax code in three decades passed in December.
But the celebration was bittersweet.
So they are prepared to pump unprecedented sums of money to tip the scales in Republicans’ favor.
The party in power, currently Republicans, typically loses seats in mid-term elections. Democrats’ trouncing Republicans in state and local elections in November indicates this trend is likely to continue.
Tim Phillips, president of Americans for Prosperity, a grassroots political group part of the Koch network, said:
“It’s going to be a very challenging environment. The left is energized. There’s no question about that.”
Of the $400 million the Kochs anticipate spending, $20 million is slated for promoting the GOP tax law, which includes drastic cuts in corporate tax rates favoring the ultra wealthy like the Kochs.
Concerned Republicans is a hopeful sign, but we must not underestimate money’s influence on America’s electoral landscape.
In 1976, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in Buckley v. Valeo that political campaign spending limits are unconstitutional.
Then came the controversial Citizens United v. Federal Elections Commission (FEC) decision in 2010, which cited the First Amendment to equate money with free speech.
In 2014, the McCutcheon v. FEC case further solidified this by determining unconstitutional any limits on individual contributions to federal candidate committees and national parties over a two-year period.
This is all the more reason why we must show up in droves in November.
If the progressive wave last election day showed anything, it’s that, despite corporate cash’s influence, when Democrats and progressives turn out at the polls, they win.
The Kochs know that.
And they’re doing all they can to stop it.
Image credit: rollingstone.com