The Washington Post recently published a quixotic editorial maintaining that the left has no deep-pocketed financiers like the right does in the much written about and thoroughly maligned Koch brothers.
In its editorial, the paper laments that Democrat groups have no one like the Kochs. For the Post, Reid Wilson wrote that for “Democratic professionals who actually run campaigns, the thing that frustrates them most about the Koch brothers network is that there’s no real equivalent on their side.”
This is an odd claim considering that the left has spent the better part of the last 40 years creating dozens of purported think tanks and agenda shops like the Center for American Progress (CAP), and in George Soros has one of the richest men in the world funding Democrats and their issues at nearly every turn.
It seems that the crux of the Post‘s argument is that liberals donate their money and focus their efforts on social issues while Charles and David Koch focus on regulatory issues.
However, this might be a distinction without a difference. If you focus on left-wing social issues and elect politicians that support them, you will undoubtedly get liberal regulatory rules sought after and passed; if you focus on conservative regulatory issues and elect politicians that support those you’ll undoubtedly get more conservative social policy. One leads to the other either way.
Further, the number of really deep-pocketed donors is legion on the left. The left has Bill Gates, George Soros, Tim Gill, the owners of Google and Facebook, and investor Warren Buffet, not to mention nearly every union from both the public and private sectors that have spent billions in every election cycle to elect Democrats.
Who do you ever hear about on the right? Sheldon Adelson, the Koch Brothers, and only a few others. Worse for Republicans, two of the party’s biggest donors, billionaires Harold Simmons and Bob Perry, both passed away last year, leaving the right with two fewer deep pockets to pick.
Yes, Charles and David Koch have built several advocacy groups like Americans for Prosperity and the like, but George Soros has built dozens of similar, mirror-image advocacy organizations for the left.
Further, the right’s advocacy groups have never been part and parcel to Republican political machines like the left’s groups have. From Think Progress, to CAP, to MoveOn.org and Media Matters for America, the left’s deep-pocketed agenda drivers have representatives in government, whereas the right’s groups have more often stood outside of government.
John Podesta of CAP, for instance, has been in and out of the Clinton and Obama administrations for decades and has wielded a large amount of influence not just in dollars or advocacy but by having his hand directly on the rudder guiding government action.
Neither David nor Charles Koch have been in a presidential administration.
So, while the Koch’s influence is not inconsiderable, it is a bit absurd of the Washington Post to lament that their lefty friends don’t have enough influence in government and can’t raise as much cash.
Remember, Obama’s re-election campaign was famously dubbed the billion-dollar campaign for being the first to ever raise a billion bucks for an election.