Dear fellow Americans:
It's official. You're bought and paid for. Or so think Charles and David Koch, the real world's Doctor Evil and his clone Mini-Me -- ultra-conservative, billionaire, industrialist, fossil-fuel profiteers based in Kansas but intent on running the country.
The utterly breathtaking, mid-nine-figure sweep of their past political campaign spending is nothing compared to what they're planning next. They're going for nearly ten figures, this time. Joan McCarter reported first here at DailyKos on this. Likewise, Josh Voorhees at Slate.com provided a chilling overview of the Kochs and their "shock and awe" campaign to send figurative drones down on every American hamlet and city (bold-facing added):
The dark-money political machine run by the Koch brothers hopes to spend $889 million in the lead-up to the 2016 presidential and congressional elections. That figure ... is staggering. In the words of Politico’s big money reporter, Ken Vogel, it’s “a historic sum that in many ways would mark Charles and David Koch and their fellow conservative megadonors as more powerful than the official Republican Party.”
The numbers back that up: The fundraising target is more than twice the $407 million the Koch network spent on the 2012 election, and $232 million more than the Republican National Committee and the GOP’s two congressional committees spent combined that cycle. It’s also in line with the $1 billion that observers predict will be the magic fundraising number for each of the two parties’ eventual presidential nominees.
Monday’s revelation about the Kochs' plans came five years after the Supreme Court largely destroyed campaign finance restrictions in its Citizens United decision, paving the way for unlimited and in many cases anonymous political spending by third-party groups.
Just how much is $899 million, in the scheme of American electioneering? All by itself, it likely will guarantee the most expensive elections in American history.
What if, instead, the Kochs were to put that sum toward humanitarian purposes, say, for improving the heatlh and education of America's growing class of poor kids, as other billionares have done? What if they invested that sum in R&D, accelerating the development of alternative fuels which their firms could sell with good conscience, instead of their foul products that are heating up the atmosphere?
Nah. To the Kochs, clearly, those and other social missions are fool's errands. They don't care if you hate them, it's raw power that matters to the brothers -- and what they like they're going to make you like. They're throwing their weight around, and the result is an increasingly imbalanced democracy where -- often behind the scenes -- they're pulling more and more of the strings. And now, almost literally, they're doubling down on their past investment in government. They're taking this country private!
The vast majority of Koch-fueled campaign spending in past elections went out as so-called dark money to undisclosed campaign entities, as Lee Fang reported in a piece at Republic Report, which offered up the chart at the top of this article showing how the Kochs in 2012 easily outspent the nation's ten largest labor unions in campaign activity. Ah, but you see, it's the labor unions and the millions of workers they represent that are imperious.
That's why the Kochs again hope to help elect a boatload of right-wing Republican candidates at the local, state and federal levels, who swear allegience to businesses such as their own. If their scheme succeeds, ours will at some point become a government of the Kochs, by the Kochs and for the Kochs. Most of the other 317 million of us? Just bit players working for scale, if we can find a scale.
Who are some of those right-wing Republican politicians seeking the favor of Koch millions as the 2016 presidential election year approaches? Well, at the Kochs' recent annual private retreat in Palm Springs, California ("Cali," if you prefer), these Republican presidential hopefuls signed up to appear: Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, ace union buster, along with Senators Ted Cruz of Texas, Rand Paul of Kentucky and Marco Rubio of Florida.
Last year, Walker, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and Ohio Gov. John Kasich pilgrimaged to a Las Vegas audition before another right-wing billionaire, casino magnate Sheldon Adelson, in hopes of obtaining his blessing and wads of campaign cash. Adelson himself has pledged to spend hundreds of millions to elect lackeys, er, Republicans, to office. Do you really think these politicians and their patrons represent the truly popular and real interests of average Americans? Fat chance.
As for the Kochs, whose political megalomania seemingly knows no limit or equal: What kind of force does their planned billion-dollar spree represent? It's a cash tsunami that easily would overwhelm recent campaign donations to progressives. It's a megaphone so loud that, left unchallenged, it will shake competitive politics and turn voters deaf.
Of course, as advertisers and marketing gurus have long since figured out, and as Republicans profess in every one of their political policy pronouncements, throwing money at problems isn't a sure-fire way to resolve anything. So maybe this spending overkill will be noticed by many for what it is, and it will end up failing, as in a couple of past elections.
In any event, what does this mean at the human level? Here is what the Kochs apparently think your vote is worth, or at least how much money it's going to take to distort reality, flooding the airwaves with nonsense, fearmongering and half truths, all to bamboozle you into submission or at least keep you away from the polls in disgust:
Going by recent numbers, the Kochs plan to spend $4.36 on average for each of the 206 million Americans eligible to vote. But of course many of those Americans are not registered to vote.
So, using 2014 data, let's consider the 146 million registered Americans voters. The campaign funding machine planned by the Koch brothers will spend an average of $6.16 per each of those voters in an attempt to influence their choices, via ubiquitous ad campaigns and other means.
But, take away another slice: Not all registered voters actually turn out on election day. Typical turnouts in off years are as low as 25 percent of registered voters in some regions of the country. Nevertheless, let's be generous and assume a high turnout in 2016, say 65 percent of all registered voters.
For the sake of simplicity, let's futher say that the number of registered voters won't appreciably increase two years hence -- that's probably untrue, even despite continuing, massive, Republican voter-suppression efforts in many states. But if it was, then we'd have a turnout of around 95 million actual voters. Let's round that up to 100 million, just to be generous.
In that case, the two Koch brothers intend to spend an average of $8.99 per voter. Which is an ironic number, because it follows the time-honored convention among merchants to make their products seem cheaper than they actually are. Hence, instead of sounding like the cost per voter of buying an election, $8.99 sounds like the price of a pound of steak at your local grocer. Appropriate, in that these billionaires are effectively planning to turn American democracy into ground meat.
So welcome to the Koch Brothers Political Butcher Shop. But be careful, because the Koch minions likely will have added polluted water and chemical fillers to that ideological Kochburger they are working hard to get you to eat. Worse, after the election they likely will decide to put most of you through their voracious meatgrinder, too. Yes, it's true: Soylent Koch is people!
Best. therefore, that you go politically vegan, or at least buy your ideological red meat from a local farmer who's certified organic.