Within the core of our freedoms, lie the avenues powerful individuals use to take away the rights of citizens and the controls of government designed and evolved to serve all. Americans are now aware of the reality that subversive forces have made excessive headway in destroying our rights.
What has been allowed is the incursion of an Oligarchy: The few exploiting the many. We are witnessing the theft of human rights through the infiltration of what were meant to be representative systems within a constitutionally defined government.
My first introduction to those who want absolute power was through studies of The Robber Barons in America in the 19th Century, and then in the 20th Century, the way Adolph Hitler and Joseph Stalin took total control of their countries. I learned of an American, Fred Koch, who became wealthy via Russian and German contracts and worked with Stalin and then Hitler as WWII began. He was convinced that absolute dictators were necessary to create strong nations. He came home to change the U.S government into a mechanism which would allow him to acquire power and wealth by any means. His tenets were: Destroy public education. Destroy any kind of worker representation. Control the prison system. Destroy the democratic process by distancing or removing undesirable citizen involvement in decision-making. End government interference in the rights of individuals like himself to create his own empire.
Koch’s ideology was embedded in the goals of the John Birch Society, founded in the late 50s by Fred and ten others. It was one of many organizations spawned or infiltrated by Koch. Be aware of subversive groups founded by Koch and his sons and other powerful billionaires. Groups like the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) which writes legislation supporting Koch’s political and economic agendas. Know the goals of think tank groups established and funded to carry out Fred’s vision, these include: The Freedom School, the CATO Institute, and Americans For Prosperity among others. Be aware of how Foundations and not-for-profit tax avoidance mechanisms allowed the billionaires to finance their think thanks and other subversive organizations.
The Koch machine gained the support of other libertarian arch conservatives. Richard Mellon Scaife, Harry and Lynda Bradley, John M. Olin, the Coors brewing family, and the DeVos family, to name some of the big supporters recruited by the Fred Koch and his sons David and Charles. All had acquired vast fortunes from activities that exploited citizens and nature. All were against any type of government that limited their rip, rape, and run business philosophies.
In the last few years, add the names Bezos, Broad, Cohen, Singer, Schwarzman, Adelson, Hendricks, Mercer, and perhaps the worst of the lot, the Waltons. The Koch ideology also appeals to radical splinter groups of the Christian conservative right which is obsessed with the takeover of the US Government and the dismantling of the government. Understanding this unholy marriage explains why so many Tea Party extremists support Koch and the coup.
Fred Koch wove his Stalinist anti-communist visions into American politics. Two of his sons, Charles and David Koch, (The Koch Brothers) have put the vision in place. They have used their wealth to infiltrate state governments by the manipulation (purchase/support) of elected representatives and the selection of, and financial harnessing of, GOP governors. They have infiltrated universities, law schools, created “think tanks,” and in myriads of ways they inject their so-called “libertarian” motivation into our political systems. Politically they have devised a system of subversion and dark money so entangled that it exceeds the Republican Party (GOP) in political power.
As the election of 2016 clearly demonstrated, the billionaires bought and manipulated their way into almost total ownership of the American government. The Koch-billionaire machine “controls” a majority of elected GOP representatives, including the Congressional leaders. Although the Koch Brothers have contempt for Trump, they soon learned that he would do their bidding. Trump’s agenda is the Koch agenda. One of the final nails needed to put their ideologies in place is control of the Supreme Court. When (if?) they are able, by even the most odious methods like those used to seat Neil Gorsuch, to gain a majority on the Court, they will have almost free reign to end government of, by, and for the people.
Control of the Supreme Court is always an issue. When the so-called libertarian voice was dominant, the Court ruled that corporations are people. As asinine as this has proved to be, the Court then extended, in Citizens United, the power of corporations and the Koch/Oligarchs to dominate elections by allowing incredible sums of Dark Money. These rulings solely favor the Oligarchy as controlled by the Kochs and a few others. If the Supreme Court is again dominated by those who will support the rights of the few over the rights of the many, the American Dream will end, democracy will be so damaged that the American experiment will die.
Destroy public education and destroy every form of worker representation
The Koch agenda has been especially effective in the area of public education. The written agenda to destroy public education has been actively in place since the 50s. Major anti-public education voices were placed in many states. By the early-80s, charges that public schools were failing and America was at risk (charges that were not accurate and often lies), were brought without being challenged. Attacks on teachers and the teaching profession began to create doubts about those working with our children and the institutions that educated and certified them. Again, there was no factual evidence, just a well-planned smear campaign intended to undermine the greatest education system in the world.
To break the bond of the citizens with their elected representatives, attacks on the most basic, but important elements of our society, local school boards, began to erode this element of American democracy. Organized billionaire oligarchs gang up on local communities and finance board members who have two goals – to access tax dollars and to dismantle public schools piece by piece. In many cases, the board members elected are not aware of, nor do they care about the needs of the communities they allegedly serve.
To further the destruction of public schools (public education) and to gain access to the tax dollars citizens pay for public education, scams were devised to give hedge fund operators, private profiteers, religious organizations, and corporations the right to access public tax dollars, pocket profits, and replace public schools with partial (charter or school-of-choice) programs with fewer services for all children and little or no accountability. This weakening of support for public schools, the majority of which are/were doing excellent work both socially and academically, took its toll on public education and the fabric of society. States like Texas declared war on science and programs for the disadvantaged. Women’s rights are being limited by religious and political ideologies. Many of the alternative programs of partial education have been used to segregate or re-segregate communities. These alternative programs almost always support wealthy white citizens and deprive children of color and those more economically disadvantaged a quality education.
To destroy public education, it is necessary to place so-called libertarian representatives in state and federal positions. In a majority of states, Arizona as an example, the mission of the GOP elected representatives is to starve and damage public schools and then say, “Look! The schools are failing.” As they discredit public schools, they direct more tax money into the pockets of their cronies or allow alternative schools-of-choice to be run by corporations building real estate empires with our tax dollars. In many cases, as many as a third of our education tax dollars do not serve children or go to the purposes for which they were collected.
Perhaps the most visible attempt to destroy our public education system is the appointment of Betsy De Vos as Secretary of Education. There is no way; none whatsoever, that DeVos is qualified to oversee our country’s Federal education systems. She gained this position because of DeVos financial entanglements with the Kochs, and donations to the Trump presidential campaign. She was specifically placed by Trump because of her contempt for minorities, her willingness to privateer and profiteer the student loan programs, her lack of support for students with disabilities and special needs, and her general opposition to public education in general. Her connections with the Dutch Reformed Church and the teachings that everything is predestined, and anything that you do is God’s will, make it easy for her to justify the abuse of children and America’s schools.
Many years ago, I was a member of the National Education Association (NEA). In time, I became president of the local education association. In those days, I was attracted to the professional organization because of its support for national councils (i.e. the National Council for Social Studies, Math, English, and Science). The NEA focused on helping teachers do a better job. I was a teacher when the organization separated administrators from classroom teachers and created a labor-management approach. Teachers were lowered, in the eyes of their communities, from professional status to labor. The NEA and the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) are labor unions, with only weak support of professional educators or community leaders.
There are constant attempts to blame teachers’ unions for school failure. This is interesting, as neither union has fought to correct the damages being done by the extreme right wing. For example, the discounting of teachers, the false accusations about schools failing, the misinformation about student failure, the call for school choice, all the ugly disinformation campaigns to destroy public schools, and the premeditated attempts to starve and destroy our traditional public school systems, takes place with barely a whimper from the unions.
In the last few years, two new organizations serving educators have risen to fight for truth and for teachers: The Badass Teachers Association (BTA) and The Network for Public Education (NPE). However, they have power only as their memberships increase. I hope the BTA and the NPE can help reverse and heal the damages intentionally done to a great profession.
The success of the Koch-extreme right to create prisons for profit and to punish, remove, and control people of color has resulted in the US imprisoning massive numbers of individuals, many for very minor offenses. The prison business is all that Fred Koch had hoped it would be. After Obama sought to pull back privatization, now, in the Trump administration, Jeff Sessions, the new Attorney General, will increase support for prisons, especially for-profit prisons that can imprison minorities and those deemed undesirable by the extreme right. Sessions will set criminal bars so low that thousands more Americans will be incarcerated. Increasing deportation of people of color will also remove threats perceived by the extreme right.
The goals of Fred Koch and other so-called libertarians are being achieved. America as a constitutional, representative, for-the-people nation is being hijacked by people who set out to destroy our democracy and representative form of government. The Kochs have staged a carefully executed coup with a long-field strategy to take over the government. In this eleventh hour, is it possible to reverse this overthrow of the core principles of our democracy…The Koch-Billionaire’s Coup?
Yes! But only if Americans are willing to actively participate in the democracy we have left. The extreme right has closed off many avenues where citizens can participate. Using their wealth, the extreme right has been able to select and elect representatives who are philosophically aligned and vote as they are told. This subversive group has used gerrymandering to ensure that their minions placed in key congressional positions do not have to fear being voted out of office. Major blocks to the exercising of citizen’s rights have been placed within our electoral system.
Arnold Schwarzenegger, a Republican and a strong political force, is currently leading a movement to end gerrymandering which is used as a tool to elect and maintain representatives who serve the interests of the oligarchs. His mission may be one of the most important citizen’s initiatives. If the Supreme Court allows the Billionaires to continue to create protective zones around their surrogates, then Americans will not regain the power to vote against those who do not represent them.
I live in Arizona, a state controlled by the Koch-Goldwater Institute- ALEC- extreme right-wing GOP and dark money. I have witnessed their strangle-hold on Arizona as it is used to carry out the Koch-billionaires agenda for America. To ignore the wishes of Arizona citizens, they use their money to overcome opposition and to deny the balances provided by a two-party system operating on a level playing field. We must continue to stand and fight, to make our voices heard, and apply active pressure on elected GOP representatives while supporting non-Koch aligned, traditional conservatives and liberals. We cannot be passive or rely on others to make the case for us.
If WE the people do not preserve it, the Government OF the people, BY the people, and FOR the people will perish from this Earth.
Excerpt from a poem honoring Diane Ravitch:
So through the night, she persevered
And so through the night went her cry of alarm
Through every American village and farm
A cry of defiance and not of fear
A voice in the darkness a knock at the door
And a word that shall echo forevermore!
For borne on the night wind of the Past
Through all our history to the last
In the hour of darkness and peril and need
The people will waken and listen to hear
Of the ominous danger of billionaire greed
Threat to democracy that we hold dear
As background for my blog, I strongly suggest Jane Myer’s latest book, DARK MONEY: The Hidden History Of The Billionaires Behind The Rise Of The Radical Right.