The Koch Brothers network is determined to find new friends. Down to only one brother, Charles (David died in 2019), the money-influencing nexus had for decades been branded as the face of right-wing conservatism.
The Republican Party served after all as a convenient vehicle to promote free-market globalist economic policies. But that was then and this is now.
The Koch empire saw the rise of Donald Trump and populist nationalism within the GOP and pulled its golden parachute.
It is now falling to earth firmly on the soil of the progressive cultural Left.
From a Sept. 29 Associated Press article:
Leaders in the network built by the billionaire Koch family say they oppose government bans over teaching about race and history in schools [i.e., Critical Race Theory]. While they note they don’t agree with the ideas at the center of the fight, they argue the government bans, now enacted in 11 states, stifle debate essential to democracy.
“Using government to ban ideas, even those we disagree with, is also counter to core American principles — the principles that help drive social progress,” said Evan Feinberg, executive director of the Koch-affiliated Stand Together Foundation.
It is impossible to take this quote as offered. Surely Feinberg must understand the extremely basic logic involved in differentiating the free exchange of ideas and what is happening in our nation’s public schools today. The Stand Together Foundation is intentionally confusing forced government indoctrination of captive audiences of children with "free speech" as the Koch empire continues to pivot away from the conservative brand that is no longer useful to them in the post-Trump era.
The effortless shift from “conservative values” to defending Critical Race Theory has been years in the making, driven by the decline of the GOP establishment in 2016.
In 2019, the Kochs re-branded. The Washington Post reported in depth on the move, and it is worth quoting at some length (bold added):
The Seminar Network, which includes the constellation of groups funded by the billionaire industrialist Charles Koch and around 700 like-minded conservatives and libertarians who contribute at least $100,000 annually, will now operate as Stand Together....
That has been the name of a nonprofit arm that the Koch apparatus created three years ago to support community groups addressing maladies like poverty, addiction, recidivism, gang violence and homelessness. That effort, which has provided grants to 140 organizations, will continue as the Stand Together Foundation.
Freedom Partners, an entity that was once used to air campaign commercials, will cease to exist. Americans for Prosperity will now oversee all political and policy efforts. Groups that cater to specific constituencies, like Libre for Latinos or Concerned Veterans for America, have moved under the AFP umbrella.Flag-waving “freedom partnering” was out. And a dedication to fighting “social problems” was in. A new useful vehicle was being crafted:
Today’s announcement puts meat on the bones of what Koch outlined in broad strokes at the January gathering of his supporters outside Palm Springs, Calif. Uneasy with President Trump and the Republican Party’s drift toward nativism, protectionism and populism, the 83-year-old signaled a turn away from partisan politics to focus more on goals that cut across ideologies.Since then, the Koch colossus has noticeably lurched to the left. It has partnered with notorious progressive globalist billionaire George Soros to support Internet censorship and the witch hunt against “online hate,” which frequently means anyone who evinces a belief in nation-states.
Its funding of LIBRE as part of its Hispanic outreach has meant actively backing the illegal alien invasion of this country. It also funded the successful effort to pass Amendment 4 in Florida. The measure to restore voting rights for convicted felons was a crucial part of a partisan Democrat strategy to turn the crucial Sunshine State blue.
Scratch a globalist think tank spouting progressive social poison in America today, and you’ll often find a Koch donation.
So it must be a bit disappointing for the new Stand Together Koch machine to discover that the Left is not rushing into the arms of its new romantic suitor. From the Sept. 29 AP article:
[The defense of CRT in schools] is in line with the network’s long-held libertarian streak. But it has sparked fresh charges of hypocrisy from the megadonor’s critics. After spending years pouring money into conservative groups, the Koch groups cannot distance themselves from the movement it helped build, they argue.
“They have this nice position they want to tout from a P.R. standpoint. But their money has gone to these groups that have the opposite effect on that agenda,” said Lisa Graves, board president for the liberal watchdog group Center for Media and Democracy.Charles Koch believes he needs to court the progressive ruling establishment as his bottom line feels panicked by the rise of Trump-fueled America First nationalism. But he may discover that the social Left is an unforgiving lot with a penchant for passing sentences and settling scores.
Then again, it’s probably nothing a mountain of green can’t overcome. After all, it was never a problem getting Republicans to line up and take the money back in the dusty old “Freedom Partner” days.