What we deserve

So what’s all the fuss about? The Republican leadership — yes, John Boehner, Mitch McConnell, and now Paul Ryan — has worked its tail end off to make sure that white rich people govern the United States of America. So, now they got the rich, white dude. What is their problem?

BIRCH RUN, MI - AUGUST 11: Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks at a press conference before delivering the keynote address at the Genesee and Saginaw Republican Party Lincoln Day Event August 11, 2015 in Birch Run, Michigan. This is Trump's first campaign event since his Republican debate last week. (Photo by Bill Pugliano/Getty Images)

I have just finished reading Jane Mayer’s Dark Money (good read). Still, I was intrigued by a passage from Dark Money regarding Donald Trump that I would like to reproduce here:

Donald Trump, the New York real estate and casino magnate whose unorthodox bid for the Republican nomination flummoxed party regulars, was also left off the Kochs’ invitation list. In August 2015, as his rivals flocked to meet the Koch donors, he tweeted, “I wish good luck to all of the Republican candidates that traveled to California to beg for money etc. from the Koch Brothers. Puppets?” Trump’s popularity suggested that voters were hungry for independent candidates who wouldn’t spout the donors’ lines. His call to close the carried-interest tax loophole, and talk of the ultrarich not paying its share, as well as his anti-immigrant rants, made his opponents appear robotically subservient, and out of touch. But few other Republican candidates could afford to ignore the Kochs.

Mayer, Jane (2016-01-19). Dark Money: The Hidden History of the Billionaires Behind the Rise of the Radical Right (Kindle Locations 7082-7088). Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.

Then, just last week (2016-04-24) the WSJ publishes an article titled “Could Charles Koch Rally behind Hillary Clinton?” Of course, Ms. Clinton immediately repelled the overture. And no one thinks it likely that Charles would actually endorse Clinton. Nevertheless, Mr Trump’s candidacy offers valuable insights into the where and why of the mainstream Republican leadership.

The Koch brothers are, needless to say, huge backers of Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell, neither of whom would be anywhere on the political map were it not for Koch money. Where is the Republican leadership? The Republican leadership, as I have stated many times in this blog, is single-mindedly opposed (1) to democracy; and (2) to republicanism. It was with Koch money that REDMAP (Redistricting Majority Project) was unleashed upon the states, guaranteeing that even where minorities enjoyed a serious population advantage, their districts would be so uniformly homogeneous that beyond their Republican-drawn districts, they would enjoy no power at the polls. If Republicans cannot win elections with a majority, so the reasoning goes, they will do so the old-fashioned way, through gerrymandered districts. It was also Koch money that created, identified, and then pushed Citizens United to the highest court in the land, again ensuring that, even should the popular vote lean toward more progressive candidates, the Koch network would so outspend progressive candidates that they would be buried beneath wave after wave of negative third-party advertising that no progressive candidate could survive. Finally, however, although voter fraud contributes less than 1% to voting outcomes, Koch-backed Republicans have made it their mission to place such high walls in the path of voter registration as to make it difficult for historically democratic voters, largely minorities, to cast their votes. Democracy? Not in your life.

But the Kochs and their network are also fiercely hostile to republicanism. Republicanism is the radical notion that we share our wealth in common, that we form a commonwealth, or, in Latin res publica. Radical republicanism was the fuel that fired the American and French revolutions. Radical republicanism became the model for every colonial uprising and post-colonial government in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. In 1787, as the newly formed United States slipped into bankruptcy and anarchy, it was the radical republicans and the federalists who carried the day in Philadelphia, not the democrats and anti-federalists. And so a Constitution emerged that was strongly centralist, that gave the Supreme Court preemption over state courts, that tightly regulated interstate commerce and that created a strong central bank with a single currency. The only concession wrung from the Convention by southern landed gentry was the 3/5ths clause, which padded their representation in the House by allowing slave states to count 3/5ths of every slave, for purposes of representation, in their census. In all other respects, the 1787 Constitution was a deeply republican document.

Needless to say, sharing the wealth is not what Charles and David are about. They are fundamentally hostile to the US Constitution, or any constitution that seizes private property and makes that property public.

So much for the where. Now for the why. The Koch network is hostile to democracy and republicanism because at some point David and Charles stumbled upon the writings of Carl Menger, Ludwig von Mises, Friedrich von Hayek, and Milton Friedman, whose idealistic notions of how economics works seemed specially crafted to ensure the unending expansion and consolidation of Koch power and wealth. In other words — the opposite of democracy and republicanism. For, unlike the framers of the 1787 Constitution, these market fundamentalists naively believe that unregulated markets come eventually to regulate themselves. That is because just as tyranny begets tyranny, so freedom begets freedom. How could a well-regulated economy issue in anything other than a regulated, that is to say, constrained marketplace? And how could a constrained marketplace yield anything other than tyranny? Similarly, any notion of freedom that includes constraints upon individual choice should not be called freedom, but “serfdom.”

As we are seeing at the polls, this message on behalf of freedom and against tyranny is wildly popular with voters. Who is the biggest tyrant? Is it not the government? Who is it that every April seizes our hard-earned private property? And what laws and regulations are they that prevent me from exercising my freedom or that “cherry pick” “winners and losers” in what ought to be, but is not, a free market place?

Donald Trump is a narcissist, a bigot, and a mysogynist of monstrous proportions. But, where the Koch brothers are Cimon, willing to lead a network of plutocrats in their dream of creating a Hayekian paradise, Trump is Pericles, whose private wealth and oratory — and so his public popularity — grant him the privilege of clearing the stage of all the other oligarchs and ruling supreme. And, one more thing: Trump is no ideologue, no Hayekian, no disciple of the Austrian School, no believer in unrestrained markets. Trump personally and viscerally hates the Republican leadership. And, of course, the feelings are mutual.

Is my enemy’s enemy my friend? Of course not. But it does help to explain why the Koch-publicans — and this includes, specially, Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell — are so anxious over his candidacy. Still, does it not  tell us more about the current Republican leadership than it does about Donald Trump?

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