How the Koch dynasty is determined to dismantle democracy — and why it might succeed: report

How the Koch dynasty is determined to dismantle democracy — and why it might succeed: report
Photo via Gavin Peters.
Economy

For nearly half a century, billionaire Charles Koch has quietly funded, initiated, and supported efforts to dismantle democracy in the United States, two professors wrote for Progressive Magazine.

Nancy MacLean, the William H. Chafe distinguished professor of History and Public Policy at Duke University, and Lisa Graves, executive director of True North Research and a co-creator of the websites Koch Exposed and Koch Docs, detailed a seemingly never-ending list of ways one of the richest people in the world and his wealthy allies continue to “divide the American electorate.”

The conservative American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), which has long been funded by Koch and his late brother, David, has strategized on ways to enforce voter suppression efforts by passing voter ID laws – which began when Barack Obama was first elected in 2008.

READ MORE: How Koch Industries is fighting democracy both 'at home and abroad': journalist

Last year, the Center for Media and Democracy, for which Graves sits on the board, found that a handful of Koch-backed groups collectively spent more than $1 billion on the 2020 election.

One of the organizations, Americans for Prosperity, spent around $70 million leading up to the 2022 midterms, involving itself in over 450 races on efforts that heavily targeted swing voters.

Soon after the election, Koch released Believe in People: Bottom-Up Solutions for a Top-Down World, a book in which he claimed he was ready for “a final act building bridges across political divides.” No more political involvement. MacLean and Graves noted that a few days prior to the book release, The Wall Street Journal published an article titled, “Charles Koch Says His Partisanship Was a Mistake.”

The book even contained phrases like, “Boy, did we screw up.” “What a mess!” “This is crazy! Are we going to have a civil war?” He had convinced the public that his time toying with democracy was over.

READ MORE: Charles Koch must be held accountable for his climate disinformation campaign

But, MacLean and Graves said that “mainstream news editors seemed to forget that” they were reporting on “a specialist in strategic disinformation, who had perfected the practice of deceiving the public during his network’s three decades of climate change denial” – a mastermind of finesse.

Even with that, what Maclean and Graves call Koch’s “most diabolical” move thus far, is how he bandwagoned the “white supremacist” reaction to nationwide civil unrest following George Floyd’s murder in 2020, by initiating a campaign that geared fear-mongering language towards the idea of teaching race in schools – also known as critical race theory.

The Koch network proceeded to fund organizations that actively fought against CRT, although a spokesperson from a Koch-funded group claims that is untrue.

Two examples of Kock-backed anti-CRT initiatives include ALEC’s financial support of a workshop titled “Against Critical Theory’s Onslaught,” featuring the main figurehead of anti-CRT rhetoric, Christopher Rufo in 2020; and when a coalition of Koch-funded groups including the Manhattan Institute and Heritage Foundation advocated against the idea of teaching race in schools in a published letter.

READ MORE: 'That's oligarchy': Bernie Sanders batters billionaires over election spending

Aside from funding organizations that promote anti-CRT language, Koch also funds Independent Women’s Forum (IWF) and Independent Women’s Voice (IWV), which work in tandem to promote anti-trans language. For example, the groups created a “Women’s Bill of Rights” which asserts that trans women are not women.

MacLean and Graves wrote, “Just as Koch-funded operations weaponize and intensify racism to secure political power, they also exploit and escalate misogyny, homophobia, and transphobia by any means to boost Republican power.”

Despite his claim that he was removing himself from politics two years ago, it’s clear that with the success of a majority conservative Supreme Court, the continued push to control the bodies of women; anti-CRT, anti-trans, and other discriminatory laws that Koch’s behind-the-scenes funding and staunch support of those who can bring he and his allies' vision of a fully dismantled democracy to life presses on.

READ MORE: Koch keeps doing business in Russia as top journalist says family fortune came from Hitler: report

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