|The Koch brothers, other billionaires and corporate groups have been remarkably successful in pushing Congress to pass legislation that helps their interests while hurting the rest of us. How did they do it?
Last weekend the New York Times ran a story, “Quixotic ’80 Campaign Gave Birth to Kochs’ Powerful Network,” that looked at the origins of the Koch brothers’ shadowy network of front groups, think tanks and other organizations.
The key lies in a 1974 Charles Koch speech in which he said, “The most effective response was not political action, but investment in pro-capitalist research and educational programs” – in other words, institutions they built that reached the public to tell them about libertarian, anti-government philosophy. The Times quoted Koch as saying, “The development of a well-financed cadre of sound proponents of the free enterprise philosophy is the most critical need facing us today.”
The Kochs, other billionaires and the corporations put their money into think tanks, communication outlets, publishers, various media, etc. with a long-term plan to change the way people see things. This “apparatus” has pounded out corporate/conservative propaganda 24/7 for decades.
You can’t get away from it. The conservative movement rewards its friends and punishes, smears, intimidates, bullies, discredits and otherwise “neutralizes” its opponents. That is how they were able to get Congress to lower taxes on the rich and corporations, break unions, defund schools and the rest of the things that have made them so much money and wreaked havoc on the rest of us. The money was not for politicians who run for office today (not all of it, anyway); it was to build organizations to execute long-term strategies to get what they want tomorrow.
The moral of the story: the right put its resources into long-term movement building, setting up think tanks, radio shows, even an entire TV network to reach the public to persuade them that conservative ideas would make their lives better. They infiltrated and took over organizations like the National Rifle Association and set up rapid-response organizations to pressure politicians. They deliver for their constituents – the billionaires and their giant corporations—and keep “our side” from delivering for ours, the American people.
On our side the money, resources and effort tend to go into candidates, with so many people looking for a “messiah” candidate to lead them out of the wilderness and somehow convince the public of the rightness of our cause. Then after the campaigns are over, the infrastructure dissolves, the expertise disperses, needing to be rebuilt from scratch two or four years later. It is a remarkably ineffective approach.
Some might say the right’s success came about because there is so much more money on the corporate/conservative side. But we have the numbers. Imagine if 100 million left-of-center Americans gave an average of $100 (27.4 cents a day) each year to build progressive organizations… (Hint: That adds up to $10 billion a year.)
Imagine dozens of fully funded, fully staffed progressive organizations reaching out to all corners of America, employing people to write op-eds, appear on the radio, speak to audiences, knock on doors. Imagine TV commercials telling and showing people how progressive values and a progressive approach to issues would do good things for regular people. Imagine our elections after a few years pushing back against the kind of propaganda we constantly have to hear from the right, usually unanswered.
Money put today into efforts to build an ongoing information infrastructure is money put into every single progressive initiative and candidate in every single future election.
Blast from the Past. At Daily Kos on this date in 2012—D.C. protesters tell Rep. Trent Franks if he has time to ban abortions, he can fix potholes, too:
|Rep. Trent Franks, a Republican from Arizona, seems to think he is much better attuned to the needs of District of Columbia residents and their elected (but non-voting) representative, Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D). When Franks introduced a bill that would ban abortions in D.C. after 20 weeks of gestation, hewouldn't let Norton speak at a hearing in the House Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution, which he chairs.
Since Franks appears to be so interested in D.C. affairs, some 50 residents of the district showed up Wednesday in a clever bit of protesting at his office to give him the skinny on what he can do for them since he apparently has spare time from his duties speaking for the people of Arizona's 2nd District.
Organized by DC Vote, which seeks full representation for D.C. in Congress, and Planned Parenthood of Metropolitan Washington, the protesters each spent a few minutes seeking help from "Mayor" Franks in getting potholes repaired, rat infestations exterminated, parking tickets fixed, Washington mass transit fully funded and other matters of local concern dealt with.
Franks didn't talk with a single one of them.
On today's Kagro in the Morning show: CDC stats for 2010 (the last year available) cited in a routine newspaper report say 62 kids ages 14 & under were accidentally killed by gunfire. But my review of 2013 GunFAIL incidents are turning up many more. Greg Dworkin and Armando on reparations, Abramson, Greenwald & more. More on the wacko Sandy Hook denier/sign stealer. Revisiting the Senate wheel o' fortune. Georgia town bans sex toys, but loves guns. (Figuratively. I think.) More conservative blowback on long gun open carry. AT&T to buy DirecTV. Drug cartel becomes lime cartel. Traffickers or private equity group? You decide!