You Can’t Always Get What You Want…

Charles Koch illustrates one of the points I was trying to make in my previous post during an interview with the Financial Times. (summarized by Andrew Prokop at Vox) During the interview, he expresses frustration that he doesn’t have more influence over the political process, lamenting that he’s “disappointed” because he’ll have to support a candidate he doesn’t agree with every issue on.

This attitude, I believe, is one of the consequences of the Citizens United decision, which deregulated the amount that individuals can donate to political campaigns. When wealthy donors spend massive amounts of money on the political process (hundreds of millions in Koch’s case), they feel entitled to have the outcomes reflect their wishes. While Charles Koch, his brother, and their friends have undoubtedly had a significant impact on the political process in this country, there are natural limits to what their money can do.

At the end of the day, people have to be willing to get up, get themselves into a voting booth and mark a ballot for a candidate. While campaigning and get out the vote drives can help close the sale for some voters, most people usually expect the candidate they vote for to have some interests that align with theirs. Charles Koch’s wealth puts him in such rarefied company that his interests don’t really align with those of most of the voters in this country. Koch’s political consultants can try to piece different parts of his platform to construct a winning coalition, but a coalition that agreed with him on every issue would only consist of .1% of voters.

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