Column, 307 words

Billionaires Lay Siege to State Governments

While we're mesmerized by Trump, shady groups are pushing corporate-friendly legislation in statehouses all over the country.

Jim Hightower

It’s easy to become mesmerized by The Donald Show in this year’s political circus.

But a lot of the real action is in the outer rings, where the Koch brothers, the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), and their corporate cohorts have laid siege to our state governments.

It’s no coincidence that such a large flock of corporatists and right-wing ideologues now roost in state offices, nor that they keep pushing exactly the same anti-people rhetoric and tactics. Nor is their lockstep embrace of identical corporation-enthroning proposals the result of small minds thinking alike.

More than a firefight here or an ambush there, the Koch-ALEC cabal have launched a massive, coordinated maneuver to conquer the countryside.

Koch Brothers

Truthout.org/Flickr

If you doubt that the strategy has gone local, consider this fact: Even though the Kochs didn’t back a presidential campaign last year — they said they were concentrating on only half a dozen Senate races — they deployed 1,600 paid political staffers into 38 states to drive elections and policy campaigns.

This is why we must pay attention: Donald Trump isn’t the only — or even the biggest — danger to our democratic republic. As Arn Pearson, general counsel of Center for Media Democracy, warns: “There are a lot of different parts of the Koch machine pulling on this oar. From their think tanks up through their elected officials, they’re pushing on it. Hard.”

You might think this is madness, but madness — spurred by plutocratic greed — is the new American political reality. Just being progressive won’t stop it. We have to confront and defeat the Kochheads in our states.

Rolling back the effects of the continuing decades-long attack on America’s ideal of the common good will take some work. To get started, check out Center for Media Democracy at www.prwatch.org/cmd.

Print Friendly

OtherWords columnist Jim Hightower is a radio commentator, writer, and public speaker. He’s also the editor of the populist newsletter, The Hightower Lowdown. Distributed by OtherWords.org.