Wineke: Are the Koch brothers starting a new political party?
Here’s an interesting political development: Charles and David Koch, the multi-billionaire “Koch brothers,” have decided to start their own political party.
They said earlier this week that they — and about 300 other millionaire/billionaire colleagues — plan to spend some $889 million next year to help elect a president who shares their values.
Since the Republican and Democratic candidates are expected to raise about $1 billion each for their campaigns this puts the Koch effort on roughly equivalent planes with the existing parties.
One could look at this initially and determine the announcement is bad news for Democrats and good news for Republicans.
I’m not so sure.
The reason I’m not so sure is that the billionaires are already pouring money into elections and it’s pretty unlikely Democrats were ever likely to see a penny of funding from the Koch faction of Billionaires United.
It’s also pretty likely that the Koch coalition money will end up going to the Republican nominee in 2016. The problem is that the Koch coalition will also pick that nominee.
They won’t formally pick the nominee, of course. They won’t have to. All they will have to do is mutter something about the possibility of a third party.
So, why is this so dangerous for the Republican Party? It’s dangerous because the Republican Party doesn’t really exist. Right now, the Republican Party is a coalition of people who, for all sorts of reasons — most of them bizarre — detest President Barack Obama.
Some of them are out and out kooks. Others truly believe in limited government. Some want the U.S. to engage in yet another land war in the Middle East. Some would like to establish a Christian theocracy (witness the governor of Louisiana, Bobby Jindal, who recently announced that “our God” will defeat “their God,” as if there are competing deities up in heaven).
Some are truly frightened at the size of the national debt. Others seem to truly believe that budget deficits don’t count if they are caused by tax cuts. I could go on and on.
The thing is, the guys with the billions will choose which of these conflicting values will be emphasized. I know the Koch brothers dislike most forms of government (their views are fairly similar to those of the old John Birch Society), but I’m not so sure they subscribe to Christian triumphalism. And one of them, David, provides support to public television. Who knows what other reasonable position he may have hidden away?
I expect the GOP will find ways to drum up hatred of Hillary Clinton — as of that ever went away — but I’m not sure it’s going to work.
That’s because the Democrats are going to spend all of their time demonizing the Koch brothers. They’ve tried in the past and haven’t been very successful. But now, the brothers are promising to spend almost a billion dollars to buy the next election. If the Democrats can’t demagogue that they don’t deserve to be elected.
Republicans like to whine about “class warfare” and they’re going to have some trouble explaining why turning their party over to billionaires is anything other than a frontal attack on the poorer classes.
All in all, I think it is a dreadful idea for a comparative handful of billionaires to be able to amass this amount of power over our political process.
But I’m not so sure it is a slam dunk for Republicans.