Libertarian Sham: Using the L Word to Hide Even Worse Politics
David Koch, executive vice president of Koch Industries, mingling with guests at a party arranged in his honor by Americans for Prosperity in Tampa, Fla., on the final day of the 2012 Republican National Convention.
Photo Credit: A.M. Stan
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Earlier this week, ace researcher Lee Fang did a little digging and found that for all their alleged commitment to libertarianism, the Koch Brothers are helping to elect a whole lot of right-wing theocrats and national security hawks, which seems just a little bit hypocritical. After all, everyone says that this libertarian influence in the GOP is bound to create a new and different party which will inevitably become more socially tolerant and less given to imperial ambition. Fang lays out example after example of Koch groups backing conservative extremists whose idea of freedom and liberty consists of a strong commitment to ensuring that gays and women are denied full human rights. And many of these fine folks aren’t too concerned about due process for “certain” people who don’t deserve all those human rights to which Real Americans are entitled. (And foreigners always deserve what they get. Especially the French.)
This should not be too surprising to anyone who’s been following the rise of the Koch brothers since they burst on the scene in the 1970s. They were at that time, as much younger men, committed to forming a viable Libertarian Party, and created the Cato Institute as its philosophical and ideological home base. David Koch ran for vice president on the Libertarian ticket in 1980 and campaigned for full abortion rights and the decriminalization of drugs, homosexuality and prostitution, while calling Ronald Reagan nothing more than a liberal squish. But no one should be shocked to find out that these billionaires really had one big priority: themselves. Charles Koch spelled it out as early as 1974 when he was formulating the rationale for a Libertarian party:“The development of a well-financed cadre of sound proponents of the free enterprise philosophy is the most critical need facing us today.”
They figured out right after that race that a third party was a quixotic waste of time and set out to take over the GOP. And it doesn’t take a genius to figure out why so-called isolationist social liberals would pick the party that was at that very time criminalizing every drug crime they could dream up, demonizing gays, trying to roll back abortion rights and spending hundreds of billions in the biggest military build-up in history. (After all, if they really cared about all that, they could have used those issues to take over the Democratic Party, which already had a large peace faction and was the party of civil rights and civil liberties.) So why did they choose the Republican party?
Well, while they may have felt the government shouldn’t be telling people who they are allowed to sleep with, it wasn’t that infringement of personal freedom that was keeping them awake at night — or inspiring them to organize. They were deeply, deeply concerned that government and business were too entwined and that it was going to spell the end of their inalienable right to rape the land, exploit the workers and gather every last penny on earth by any means necessary. This was the “freedom” they were protecting. And the Republican Party was much more fertile ground for those issues. Sure, some rubes might have gripes about theocrats and police agencies trampling their liberties, and that might be useful in persuading them to sign on with a billionaire agenda designed to destroy their own security and opportunity. Certainly, the gun issue has proved to be a big winner in that regard. But the Kochs were pragmatic and came to understand that in order to gain the political power they would need to enact their agenda for themselves, they needed to make a choice. And they made it. Courtesy of Lee Fang’s great book, “ The Machine: A Field Guide to the Resurgent Right” we have a speech from Charles Koch to the anti-gay Council for National Policy in Naples, Florida, in January, 1999 in which he said: