The names “Soros” and “Koch” are probably not unknown to you. If you’ve been paying attention to politics at all lately, you know more Americans than ever are fretting about all this money in politics — including where the hell it comes from.
Whereas Soros and the Kochs are both guilty of meddling in politics — both of them on an unthinkable global scale — to gather personal profits, Soros at the very least has the decency to vaguely associate himself with politicians and institutions that aren’t entirely anathema to conventional definitions of social progress.
The Kochs don’t bother pretending. The Koch family, along with Americans for Prosperity — another of their shamefully-named political vehicles — have been stuffing mailboxes for years all through America’s Reddest states with vaguely racist but certainly intentionally misleading claims about President Obama and his “socialist agenda.”
To begin with, let’s take a moment to clear the air about the word “socialism,” which most people over the age of fifty can’t seem to use correctly in a sentence. It’s simple: if you pay taxes, you’re a socialist. Done.
Absolutely everything that transpired between the years of 2008 and 2016 was a direct result of this sort of deliberate campaign of misinformation — if not by the Kochs, then by other billionaire-fueled political action funds with the same goal: to dismantle the Federal government of the United States and replace it with unfettered corporate rule. But to do it, they needed millions of Americans to believe the black man, and liberalism, and — ultimately — democracy itself had failed completely.
This kind of public excoriation of not just a man, but an ethos, has been going on for a very long time. Anywhere a country has attempted to marry the best parts of Democracy and Socialism, the political establishment in the U.S. has quickly and efficiently stepped in to topple regimes and generally turn back the clock on progress. Here in America, they did it by throwing Obama under the bus. Even liberals accept that Obama’s presidency was a mixed bag, but informed citizens understand that the vitriol he’s had to endure over the years was not a consequence of Obama’s failure to succeed — it was carefully orchestrated to make sure he never had the chance to succeed in the first place.
Don’t believe me? He’s a very, very, very abridged list of times when our brave and assertive Republican-controlled Congress failed to support common-sense legislation brought forward by then-President Obama or his colleagues. There are literally hundreds of examples of Congressional Republicans voting against simple measures that could have strengthened America’s middle class and turned the tide of income inequality and social injustice:
- 2011: Republicans filibuster Obama’s infrastructure bill.
- 2012: Republicans filibuster the Buffett Rule, which would have guaranteed a tax rate for millionaires comparable with tax rates for middle-class Americans.
- 2013: Republicans filibuster bipartisan transportation and housing bill.
- 2013: Republicans filibuster “Bring Jobs Home” Act.
- 2013: Republicans filibuster student loan reform.
- 2014: Republicans filibuster equal pay for women (again).
- 2016: Republicans choose the unprecedented course of blocking Obama’s appointment of Merrick Garland — a transparently pro-corporate justice whom they approved of just years earlier — just to discredit the President further.
As you can see, most of these filibusters are literally the exact opposite of what Republicans claim to stand for come election season, or when they bother showing up to town halls. Trouble is, most Americans don’t know they’re being routinely and flatly lied to — and for all their talk of mistrusting the government, they can’t be bothered to fact-check that very same government. It’s a perfect, self-sustaining cycle.
By brutishly, boorishly, associating the color of one’s skin with one’s political predilections, the Kochs and their army of political sycophants set about turning an entire generation of whiny, entitled, superstitious, paranoid, middle-aged white folks into uncloseted racists. Because they’d decided in advance that Obama was going to do a bad job — something they’d make sure of by sandbagging him at every opportunity — it means black people shouldn’t be president, which means inclusion is a farce, which means Liberal Ideology is crap, which means Republicans are always right.
This is the echo chamber we’ve been talking about — a daisy chain of faulty logic and deft, but obvious, political maneuvering meant to inflame and infuriate uneducated voters and keep them voting against their own best interests. And have you seen who’s occupying the Oval Office? It’s all working perfectly.
Trump is not a disease, exactly — he’s a symptom of all of this. If the Koch political ethos demanded martyrdom of America’s minorities, Trump was the logical next step. They needed a populist uprising to legitimize this rejuvenated assault on the very idea of civil liberties.
One of the only useful observations Hillary Clinton provided during the 2016 election was her “basket of deplorables” comment. It’s also the one that landed her in the most hot water, if you discount the email thing. But she was right, sadly. By any honest and objective assessment, Trump and his supporters have chosen the low road on virtually every single issue of social consequence. Maybe it’s all been a misunderstanding — maybe it’s merely a coincidence that Trump dog-whistles to the same sort of people the Koch Brothers and the rest of the GOP Establishment have been actively riling up for a decade.
Maybe. But probably not.