Kochs To Poor Folks: Here's A Turkey And Half A Bootstrap
Credit: Rolling Stone
December 14, 2015

Charles and David Koch think maybe, just maybe, they've found the answer for all the poors who didn't vote for Mitt Romney in 2012.

Show them how much money they can save with coupons and give them a free turkey! Also, some literature about how they can climb out of poverty if they just choose to live by the billionaires' principles.

The outreach includes everything from turkey giveaways, GED training and English-language instruction for Hispanic immigrants to community holiday meals and healthy living classes for predominantly African American groups to vocational training and couponing classes for the under-employed. The strategy, according to sources familiar with it and documents reviewed by POLITICO, calls for presenting a more compassionate side of the brothers’ politics to new audiences, while fighting the perception that their groups are merely fronts for rich Republicans seeking to game the political process for personal gain.

The efforts include a healthy dose of proselytizing about free enterprise and how it can do more than government to lift people out of poverty.

“We want people to know that they can earn their own success. They don’t need the government to give it to them,” Koch network official Jennifer Stefano told activists and donors during an August rally in Columbus, Ohio, at which she introduced one such project, Bridge to Wellbeing.

There's nothing inherently wrong with any of these ideas, but it isn't altruistic. Not by a long shot. Just check this attitude:

And one former network executive said, “There are a lot of high-up lieutenants who roll their eyes when they talk about this and question whether it’s getting any bang for the buck. How does teaching people how to clip coupons or giving them free turkeys translate into convincing them that conservatives or Republicans have the best interests of the disadvantaged at heart? Is this really changing people's minds or are they just showing up for the free turkeys?

This is a Koch "Legacy Project," they claim. Also, it's more than that, and the bonus doesn't have a damned thing to do with lifting people out of poverty or anything else. No, it's more cynical and self-serving than any of that.

Sources tell POLITICO that, in post-election strategy sessions, Charles Koch and his inner circle fixated on an exit poll finding that highlighted a so-called “empathy gap” that plagued GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney. Among voters seeking a candidate who “cares about people like me”, Obama clobbered Romney 81 percent to 18 percent ― by far the widest gap among the four traits commonly measured (the others are vision for the future, shares my values and strong leader).

“All we talked about post-2012 was that statistic,” said a former executive with one network group. “How Romney won on economics or national defense but lost like 80 to 20 on who cares about you. It spoke to a larger problem with the conservative movement. Romney just embodied that.”

Koch and Fink concluded that winning over empathy-seeking voters could help them tilt the electoral map in their favor.

“If we are successful, there will be enough … support to not only drive state policies, but also to elect a majority of freedom advocates in the House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate, and we need 317 electoral votes to elect a president who will advance” economic freedom, Fink argued to donors at a closed-door 2014 session. In his remarks, which were secretly recorded and posted online by a liberal blogger, he stressed that “intent matters to this middle third,” and pointed out “Mitt Romney won on leadership. He won on the economy. He won on experience. What did he lose on? He lost on care and intent.”

Those free turkeys and couponing classes are just a loss leader for the grander goal of putting a billionaire-loving, liberty-claiming billionaire's pick in the White House.

Half a bootstrap is worse than none.

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