Fed up with rants against him by the globalist Charles Koch, President Trump tweeted back that the Koch brothers “have become a total joke in real Republican circles.” “I don’t need their money or bad ideas,” he added, or their political baggage.
Republican politicians who have fallen for the Koch agenda of weak borders, phony free trade and a toxic image have often lost as a result. Trickles of money given by the Koch network are insufficient to offset the immense radioactive political effect.
Yet Koch allies just slipped three open-border provisions into the Fiscal Year 2019 Appropriations Bill for the Department of Homeland Security. Rep. Kevin Yoder (R-KS) inserted these pro-immigration amendments, as approved by a voice vote to avoid political accountability, whereupon the House Appropriations Committee recommended the entire bill by a 29-22 vote on July 25.
The pro-immigration provisions include blocking Attorney General Jeff Sessions from tightening the requirements for illegal aliens who seek asylum. The last-minute changes also seek to expand the limit of visas for foreign workers and lift the per-country cap, which would open the floodgates to thousands of guest workers from India.
Koch’s recent semiannual conference of ineffective muckety-mucks turned into an unhelpful bashing of President Trump a mere 100 days from the midterms. A top spokesman for Koch accused Trump, and not his opponents, of being too divisive.
At the conclusion of the conference, the Koch network declared they would not support the Republican Senate candidate in North Dakota, Kevin Cramer, who has a chance to oust a Democratic incumbent and preserve GOP control of that chamber. A Koch organization has already run ads promoting the pro-abortion Democratic incumbent, to the dismay of conservatives.
In Pennsylvania, Koch money is funding ads against the pro-life Republican Lou Barletta, who is challenging the entrenched liberal Democrat Bob Casey, Jr., for the Senate. As Republicans struggle to hold the Senate, this shocking betrayal by the Koch network should cause all conservatives to disassociate from it.
Rep. Yoder’s fellow Kansas congressman Tim Huelskamp was a rising conservative star until he went for the Kochs’ peculiar resistance to farmers, whereupon he was defeated in his own primary in 2016. Huelskamp was even outspent by his opponent despite how the Koch network brags about having so much money.
Jim Ryun, a good man who has held the American record for more than 50 years for a teenager in running the fastest mile (and 1,500 meters), was ousted in 2006 from his congressional seat in Kansas by a Democrat who then sponsored a bill to crack down on Mexican trucks. “A Republican cannot win if he allows a Democrat to get to the right of him on an issue people care about,” Phyllis Schlafly wrote in Spring 2010, lamenting how Ryun’s political comeback in 2008 fell short of the finish line.
Far from any border, one might think that Kansas would be immune from immigration controversies that rage in Arizona, Texas, and Florida. But shocking crimes have been committed by illegal aliens in the otherwise safe Kansas, such as the reckless murder last year of a Johnson County sheriff’s deputy by a badly intoxicated illegal alien who drove a pickup truck into his police car.
Kansas is also on high alert for the West Nile virus, a deadly disease that was first imported into our country in 1999. This mosquito-transmitted virus of Africa and the Middle East made it all the way from Queens, New York, where it was first discovered in America, to the middle of Kansas.
Pushing the Koch agenda might boost a candidate’s campaign coffers, and Rep. Yoder’s has swelled to $2 million for his reelection. But a candidate still needs a base to win, and all the money in the world may not salvage a Republican who crosses Trump on immigration or trade, as some Republicans are doing.
Criticism of President Trump by the Koch network is publicized widely by the liberal media, due to the false perception by some that the Koch mega-donors are conservative. In fact, Trump disavowed support from the Kochs during his own campaign for president, and spectacular success for Trump’s campaign followed.
Trump was then free of all the negative baggage among many voters that is associated with the Koch network. Current candidates should pause before pandering to the Koch network, because embracing the Koch agenda will bring out the Democratic base against them while doing nothing to energize conservative voters needed to win.
The Kochs “were the first people to put the knife in [Trump’s] back,” Steve Bannon observed in a recent interview with POLITICO. He added that the Koch network should “shut up and get with the program,” which is the necessary “ground game to support Trump’s presidency” in order to enable “victory on Nov. 6.”
John and Andy Schlafly are sons of Phyllis Schlafly (1924-2016) and lead the continuing Phyllis Schlafly Eagles organizations with writing and policy work.