The big donors in the Republican Party are reportedly flummoxed by the toxic rhetoric of Donald Trump. The billionaire political industrialist Charles Koch has warned that Trump’s proposed registry of Muslims in the U.S. would “destroy our free society.” After pouring hundreds of millions of dollars into promoting their right-wing libertarian views over the past four decades, and budgeting some eight hundred and eighty-nine million dollars to spend in the 2016 election cycle, he and his brother David Koch, and their donor circle, are apparently disappointed that they have bought so little control over the Republican Presidential candidates. “You’d think we could have more influence,” he lamented to the Financial Times. But, in fact, the influence of the Kochs and their fellow big donors is manifest in Trump’s use of incendiary and irresponsibly divisive rhetoric. Only a few years ago, it was they who were sponsoring the hate.
Over the July 4th weekend of 2010, I attended the fourth annual Defending the American Dream Summit, in Austin, Texas, which served in part as a training session for local Tea Party activists. The summit was sponsored by Americans for Prosperity, which purported to be a nonpartisan grass-roots political-advocacy group devoted to the cause of small government, free markets, and liberty. It was in fact an organization that had been founded and heavily funded by the Kochs, whose early activism was entwined in fearmongering and racial intolerance.