Monday, April 7, 2014

Koch Brothers As Enemies of Working Class

Ridicule is man’s most potent weapon.

Saul Alinsky (1909-1972),  Patron Saint of Social Organizers,  “Rule #7,” in Pragmatic Primer for Radical Realists (1971)

It’s a familiar tactic for social organizers.   Attack capitalists as enemies of the working class.  Tell the world they got where they are by crawling on the backs of the proletariat, by trampling on those who do not possess their wealth and who must work to survive.

Call them greedy for abusing the needy (“Kochs: Greediest Family on Earth,” Salon, April 4). Label them as “un-American” (Harry Reid, April 5).   Accuse them of laying off workers for personal gain (“Dems Use Obama Playbook To Strike at Kochs,” New York Times,  April 6).

As The Times puts it,

After months of wincing in the face of negative ads funded by the industrialists, David and Charles Koch,  Democrats believe they have found a way to fight back; attack the brothers sprawling business conglomerate as callous and indifferent to the lives of ordinary people while pursing power and profit.” 

Point to layoffs in Koch subsidiaries – a chemical plant in North Carolina, an oil refinery in Alaska, a lumber operation in Arkansas – all in states with vulnerable Democratic Senatorial candidates.  Ridicule the Kochs as heartless capitalists.

Why not?  It worked with Mitt Romney.  It just might work  with the Kochs.

Might  is the operative word here.    

But unlike Romney, the Kochs are not candidates for anything.   Unlike Romney,  they hire 60,000 workers, support 143,000 more, and offer generous health benefits.   

Unlike Romney, who was discrete and sometimes secretive, they are open  about contributing to conservative causes  - the Heritage Foundation, the Cato Institute, and more recently to Americans for Prosperity.   

Unlike Romney, they are known for giving generously to the Arts,  medical research, and the poor and people at risk.  So did Romney, but he was quiet about it.   Last week, the Kochs  gave $100 million. not exactly chump change, to Columbia-Presbyterian.

Unlike Romney , they are from conservative Kansas, not liberal Massachusetts.    

Unlike Romney, they are not known for pulling their punches or at being gentlemanly in fighting back   In an April 2 Wall Street Journal Op-Ed, “I’m Fighting to Restore a Free Society,” Charles Koch accuses the “collectivists” of engaging in “character assassination” and personal ridicule.

“Unfortunately, the fundamental concepts of dignity, respect, equality before the law and personal freedom are under attack by the nation's own government. That's why, if we want to restore a free society and create greater well-being and opportunity for all Americans, we have no choice but to fight for those principles. I have been doing so for more than 50 years, primarily through educational efforts. It was only in the past decade that I realized the need to also engage in the political process.”

“A truly free society is based on a vision of respect for people and what they value. In a truly free society, any business that disrespects its customers will fail, and deserves to do so. The same should be true of any government that disrespects its citizens. The central belief and fatal conceit of the current administration is that you are incapable of running your own life, but those in power are capable of running it for you. This is the essence of big government and collectivism.”

I have no idea of how the Obama-Koch attack-counter-attack will play out.   But it sets the tone for the central issues of the midterm campaign – collectivism versus individualism,  regulation versus innovation, government dependency versus personal responsibility, ridicule versus respect.

Tweet:  Democrat attacks on the Koch brothers for funding negative ObamaCare attack ads sets the tone for the November midterm elections.

No comments: