In her book Dark Money Janet Mayer describes the ascendancy of ultra-conservative groups, led mostly by the Koch brothers and their merry band of greedy, sociopathic white men. One defining characteristic of the band is that they have huge sums of money at their disposal and they are anxious to spend it on those things that will deliver them even more money. Given that this is America, there are virtually no limits on how much money the Koch brothers and their friends can spend to get their way. Jeff Stein, writing for Vox, details how much is being spent and where.
He relies heavily on research by Theda Skocpol, a Harvard political scientist. As Jane Mayer has chronicled, the Koch brothers’ political network now dwarfs the Republican Party’s. Since the Koch brothers are extreme libertarians, their views have, by force of money, become the new ideology of the right and, in turn, the marching orders for Republican candidates. Vox has provided us with a few charts that illustrate the increasing size of Americans for Prosperity, the principal political organization of the Koch brothers. Here are a couple:
The Koch brothers now have staffs working in a majority of the states.
While the brothers are prominent on the national stage, they are even more influential at the state level, working to: eliminate public sector unions; create new challenges to labor organizing; defund public schools in favor of charters; reduce environmental regulations; slash state budgets; and limit voting among people of color. As you may have guessed, there is no counterpart to the Koch brothers on the left, defined by opposite positions on these issues.
We may consider the rise of the Koch brothers and their merry band as the inevitable consequence of multiple Supreme Court decisions that have removed virtually all restrictions on raising and spending money for political purposes. Citizens United, of course, blew up the dam.