Calling Donald Trump a fascist isn’t just a liberal fantasy. It’s historical accuracy that even billionaire conservative corporatist Charles Koch supports:
[Reporter Jonathan] KARL: What did you think when you first heard Donald Trump’s proposal to put a temporary ban on all Muslims entering the United States?
[Charles] KOCH: Well, obviously that’s antithetical to our approach, but what was worse was this we’ll have them all register. That’s reminiscent of Nazi Germany. I mean that’s monstrous as I said at the time [interview, This Week, ABC News, 2016.04.24].
Koch is also scared of the GOP’s second-place offering, Ted Cruz:
KARL: And when you hear another top presidential candidate talking about making the sand glow and carpet bombing in the Middle East…
KOCH: Well, that’s gotta be hyperbole, but I mean that a candidate, whether they believe it or not, would think that appeals to the American people. This is frightening [ABC, 2016.04.24].
Charles Koch is so dismayed with Trump’s fascism and Ted Cruz’s jingoism that he says he hasn’t thrown any money behind any of the Republican candidates and won’t support the nominee unless he hears something very different:
KARL: So are gonna sit out this presidential election?
KOCH: Well, we’ll see. I mean, when we get a nominee then we’ll explore that. And we don’t want arm waving. We want to know specifics.
KARL: You couldn’t see yourself supporting Hillary Clinton, could you?
KOCH: Well, I– that– her– we would have to believe her actions would be quite different than her rhetoric. Let me put it that way. But on some of the Republican candidates we would– before we could support them, we’d have to believe their actions will be quite different than the rhetoric we’ve heard so far [ABC, 2016.04.24].
But don’t get too excited: the Koch brothers’ focus is where the real action happens—down-ticket, in state-level races:
Their spending typically is concentrated on influencing legislation at the congressional and state levels, rather than on the top of the ballot. That may make any hesitation to spend on the 2016 presidential race less significant than a broader reluctance to keep backing Republicans.
Asked if sitting out the presidential election was a possibility, Koch said “we’ll see.” He said he wanted specifics from the Republican candidates. “We’d have to believe their actions will be quite different than the rhetoric we’ve heard so far.”
The network of nonprofits and political organizations with connections to the Kochs raised $407 million in the 2012 election cycle, of which $58.2 million, or 14 percent, was directed at the presidential race. The biggest spender was Americans for Prosperity at $33.5 million [Ros Krasny, “Clinton Rebuffs Faint Praise from Koch Cool to 2016 Republicans,” Bloomberg News, 2016.04.24].
Through Americans for Prosperity, Charles and David Koch are spending their money to deny South Dakotans the benefits of Medicaid expansion. Senator Bernie Sanders, whom Koch didn’t mention in his remarks yesterday, understands that the Koch brothers would destroy even more good policy:
Well, you know, I think when you talk to the Koch brothers, understand what they mean, George. These guys want to eliminate Social Security. They want to eliminate Medicare and Medicaid. They want to basically do away with virtually every major piece of legislation that has been passed since Franklin Delano Roosevelt was president.
That is their understanding of what government should be about. And needless to say, that is not my view.
On the other hand, I think you’ve got a lot of Republicans out there, working class Republicans, who understand that there’s something wrong when their kids can’t afford to go to college, something wrong when their jobs have gone to China and Mexico and they’re making 50 percent of what they used to make.
We have, in Vermont — and I think in this campaign — attracted a number of working class Republicans who understand that it’s important to have a government that fights for all of us and not just the 1 percent.
But why, that is not what the Koch brothers believe. They believe quite the — quite the contrary [Senator Bernie Sanders, interview with George Stephanopolous, This Week, 2016.04.24].
Charles Koch’s money is working against the common good. But at least his mouth is in the right place on the awfulness of the leaders of the Republican Presidential contest.