Charles Koch, Who Made Politics Exclusionary, Is Upset That Politics Are So Exclusionary

I read an astounding paragraph about conservative mega-donor Charles Koch this morning. It’s in the New York Times, it was written by Alan Rappeport, and here it is:

In an interview with The Financial Times, Mr. Koch bemoaned the state of the field of Republican candidates seeking the nomination and suggested that big money was losing its influence in politics these days. His concern over the policies of Donald J. Trump and Senator Ted Cruz of Texas was especially clear.

An appropriate alternative headline for this story would be “In Retrospect, Frankenstein Regrets Constructing Monster Out of Deceased Human Parts.” Koch says two head-shakingly stupid things in this interview. Let’s take them apart, one by one.

Not the Koch favorite.

Not the Koch favorite.

First of all, Koch, who previously announced with his brother David that he’d be spending 900 million dollars in the 2016 election cycle, laments the fact that money doesn’t have as much influence in politics as it once did. This is an incredible admission. The Kochs are the poster boys of campaign overspending; their names have become intertwined with the Supreme Court’s terrible Citizens United decision.

Spending did not correlate with success in the 2012 presidential election cycle, leading many people to theorize that excessive spending has led to a saturation point. Basically, there are only so many TV ad spaces you can buy, and only so much public attention you can purchase. So in short, Koch is complaining that other rich people came in and ruined the wonderland that he had imagined he and his brother would dominate. This is not just whiny, it’s also incredibly short-sighted. How did Koch not realize this would happen? And what’s he going to do next—pursue legislation that only people named “Koch” can donate more than $50,000 to a campaign? I bet some congressional Republicans would endorse that legislation.

And secondly, Koch says that Trump’s (unconstitutional) plan to temporarily bar Muslims from entering America would potentially “destroy our free society.” The Kochs have railed against the Tea Party’s anti-immigration stance for some time now. But they’re the ones who propped up the tea party, which has been exclusionary from the very beginning. There’s nothing new about Trump’s policies; in fact, Trump and Cruz—the latter of whom was elected as a tea party candidate—are the natural end results of the Koch’s tea party funding.

When you successfully push for an exclusionary small government the way the Kochs have, you’re going to inspire a political race to the bottom. And what that means is your push to eliminate food stamps and other government assistance programs winds up fulminating a loathing of poor and underprivileged groups. And historically in America, the poorest and most underprivileged groups are immigrants, and there’s a long history of anti-immigration sentiment in America. Koch would have to be blind not to see this coming; people were predicting it from the very first tea party rallies. These are the monsters he created, and now he’s upset that they’re rampaging around the country.

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Paul Constant
Paul Constant has written about politics, books, and film for Newsweek, The Progressive, the Utne Reader, and alternative weeklies around the country.