Monday, October 25, 2010

Koch Industries and the Tea Party's Corporate "Grassroots"

The Tea Party is an important part of the Koch brothers multi-pronged strategy to realize their self-serving version of social change.

As quoted in the New Yorker, David Koch said, “To bring about social change, [requires a strategy that is] vertically and horizontally integrated, from idea creation to policy development to education to grassroots organizations to lobbying to litigation to political action.” The project, he admitted, was extremely ambitious. “We have a radical philosophy,” he added.

On the weekend of July 4th, 2010, a summit was held to help Tea Party activists communicate their radical philosophy to America. It was called Texas Defending the American Dream and it was sponsored by a Koch organization known as Americans for Prosperity Foundation. Besides the requisite denunciations of President Obama, part of the summit was dedicated to "educating" Tea Party activists and "channeling" their political energy.

An advertisement cast the event as a populist uprising against vested corporate power. But this was a corporate event masquerading as a grassroots citizens movement.

The Kochs' involvement goes back beyond the Tea Party's inception. Today, various local branches of Americans For Prosperity help to direct Tea Party strategy and tactics.

Long before the Tea Party was born, The Koch brothers realized that they needed a mechanism to deliver their ideas to the street, and to attract the public’s support. The Kochs have been trying to develop a popular front to push forward their agenda for more than a quarter century. In 1984 David Koch created a group called Citizens for a Sound Economy, while they seemed like a grassroots movement, according to the Center for Public Integrity, it was sponsored principally by the Kochs, who provided $7.9 million between 1986 and 1993.

Although the Kochs use their capital to influence Republicans, the Citizens for a Sound Economy was a major foray into creating grassroots movements for social change, its objective was to rally voters behind their agenda.

With the Tea Party, the Kochs' social change experiment has come of age and their war on progressivism is now being served by a "grassroots" movement.

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