Charles and David Koch are two of the richest men in the world. Each is worth tens of billions of dollars. Some of their money is inherited. Much they made themselves. But the Kochs have never been content merely to get richer. They're engaged intellectuals, with a sincere desire to change the world. For years, the brothers have been the single most important funders of Republican politics in Washington.
The Koch network of donors spends hundreds of millions of dollars every election cycle. Virtually every major conservative non-profit in DC takes Koch money. Koch organizations train political organizers and candidates. Many Republican lawmakers owe their careers to the Kochs. For people whose main business is making fertilizer and paper towels, the Kochs have been remarkably effective in politics. Not surprisingly, the left hates them for it. Both the Koch brothers and their families, who by the way are very nice people, have been repeatedly and grotesquely maligned by the media. This, in turn, has convinced many conservatives that the Kochs much be on their side. Anyone who's been slandered by the New York Times has got to be doing something right. That's the idea. It's not a bad standard.
But in the case of the Kochs, conservatives might want to pause and rethink the relationship. As it turns out, the Kochs don't have much in common with conservatives. They are totally opposed to most conservative policy goals. The Kochs are libertarian ideologues, passionate and inflexible. America first? The Kochs find the very notion absurd, if not fascist. An economic policy that seeks to strengthen families? The Kochs denounce that as "crony capitalism," or "picking winners and losers." They think it's immoral. Controlling our borders? The Kochs consider that racist. A few years ago, Bernie Sanders noted that the Koch brothers are far to the left of him on immigration. Open borders? Quote: "That's a Koch brothers proposal," he said.
The Bernie Sanders’ clip that Tucker Carlson was mentioning:
Bernie: “Open Borders? That’s a Koch Brothers Proposal.”
Reporter: “But it would make a lot of global poor richer, wouldn’t it?”
Bernie wasn't wrong. But it's more than a proposal. It's in effect what we have now, thanks in part to the Kochs. The overwhelming majority of Republicans want a secure border and less immigration. That's why they voted for Donald Trump. Two and a half years later, the border is more porous than ever. A tide of humanity is flooding in illegally. Republicans in Congress have done almost nothing to help. Why? You can thank the Kochs for that. In 2018, Koch-backed organizations, Freedom Network and Americans for Prosperity, pressured Republicans in Congress to use their post-election lame duck session to pass an amnesty for the so-called Dreamers. Going into the 2020 race, amnesty remains the Kochs' top legislative priority.
If you're wondering why the Republican Party often seems so out of synch with its own voters, this is why. And not just on immigration. The Koch network has also successfully pushed Republicans to join the left in going soft on crime. The Kochs aggressively backed the First Step Act, which is currently allowing drug traffickers to leave prison early. They support the Sentencing Reform and Corrections Act, which would cut required penalties for heroin and cocaine traffickers in half. They're doing all this, remember, in the middle of the deadliest drug epidemic in American history. The Kochs don't even argue that these so-called reforms will help law-abiding Americans in any way. They just believe it's the libertarian thing to do.
On economics, meanwhile, you won't be surprised to learn that the Kochs hold views that bear no resemblance to those of most Republican voters. The Kochs have pushed for cuts to social security and Medicare. A vast majority of Americans are opposed to that. Like everyone else, most Republicans want lower drug prices. Yet the Kochs are working to kill a bill introduced by Senators Josh Hawley and Rick Scott that would prevent drug companies from charging Americans more than they charge the people of Canada or France. Then the Kochs helped craft the 2017 tax cut, which was far better for corporate America than it was for the middle class. A majority of Republicans support capping interest rates on credit cards and payday loans. The Kochs think that's ridiculous. Some years ago, when David Koch ran for vice president as a libertarian, abolishing all usury laws was part of his platform.
There's nothing surprising about any of this, or illegitimate. It's what many rich liberals believe. It's just not what most Republicans think. And that's a problem, given that the Kochs are the single most powerful figures in the Republican Party. The Kochs don't seem interested in hearing you complain about that — or anything else.
Remarkably, they've now joined the leftwing campaign against free speech. Next month, the Charles Koch Institute will be holding a summit with the Anti-Defamation League and executives from major tech companies, including Pinterest, AirBNB, Patreon, and Mozilla. The stated purpose of the meeting is to formulate, quote: "best practices on the fight against hate and extremism online." You know exactly what that really means: censorship of your views. For the left, fighting "extremism" always entails crushing normal conservatives. That's why Pinterest has censored Live Action. It's why Patreon banned Milo Yiannopoulos. It's why Mozilla drove out Brendan Eich for donating to the wrong political campaign. Big tech has become a far bigger threat to your freedom than government is. The Kochs don't care. Noting Google does violates libertarian orthodoxy.
More to the point, the Kochs don't care about Republican voters or what happens to them. Ok. But then why are they running the Republican Party? That's a question Republicans should start asking themselves.