Recently I had a lunch conversation with a smart man, a very dear and very elderly friend. He lamented that as a life-long Republican he fears for the future of the nation because "in my day both parties understood who the common enemy was...the John Birch Society." He and I have a lot in common, even though I'm a proud Liberal. I have frequently pointed out that Barry Goldwater and William F Buckley would be sad for the state of their Conservative Movement. It's been taken over by the John Birch Society...an organization they and several dozen other Conservatives publicly condemned in 1965. Sadly, what Fred Koch couldn't accomplish in the 1960s his sons (and their combined fortune larger than that of any single person on Earth) are on the verge of accomplishing.
When candidates run on the Libertarian Party ticket, and voters know their platform, they are soundly rejected. So the Kochs have figured a way to get around that. They claim they are not Libertarians — when they clearly are — and, instead, use their power and wealth to elect conservative Republicans who embrace much of the Libertarian agenda.
In 1980, David Koch ran as a vice presidential candidate on the Libertarian Party ticket. His party only got a smattering of votes. At the time, Koch reportedly advocated the abolition of Social Security, Medicare, the FBI, CIA and public schools. That was just a part of his radical platform.
Today, many of his views have become mainstream within the Republican Party. There are calls for the privatization of Social Security and Medicare, to mistrust the intelligence agencies, and to foster home schooling and private schools over public schools. What once were considered wacko ideas are now part of regular political discourse.
Six years before David Koch’s campaign, Charles Koch co-founded the think tank, the Cato Institute, now one of the most influential think tanks in America and funded largely by the Koch brothers. When Cato speaks, many people listen.
What the Cato Institute has always stood for: Libertarianism.
Libertarianism is defined as a philosophy where “Liberty is the highest political end. There is a primacy of individual liberty and political freedom and skepticism of government authority.”
In a recent op-ed piece in the Wall Street Journal, Charles Koch wrote, “Those in power fail to see that more government means less liberty, and liberty is the essence of what it means to be American. Love of liberty is the American ideal.”
U.S. Sen. Rand Paul, a freshman Republican from Kentucky, whose agenda is very Libertarian, may be running for president in 2016.
He wrote his own op-ed piece in The Wall Street Journal, which must have been music to the Kochs’ ears.
He called for severe cuts — as much as half — in the Departments of Agriculture, Commerce, Transportation, Energy and Housing, Health and Human Services, Homeland Security, and would eliminate the Department of Education. He also has called for reductions in international aid, as well as cuts in defense — Libertarian policies tend to be isolationist.
Rand Paul just won the Conservative Political Action Conference’s presidential preference poll.
Conservatives want much less government and far fewer regulations. The Kochs want virtually no government and no regulations. But the Kochs are willing to compromise for now, accepting positions like Paul’s, which may not go far enough for them but are a good start.
Based on their widespread giving, it appears the Kochs would like to control a majority in every state legislature, in Congress and ultimately the president.
They could never accomplish that openly as Libertarians. They would be considered oddball fringe players. But by taking over the Republican Party, little by little, they can accomplish what they wanted in the first place, with the respectability in their guise as Republicans.