Billionaires ante up to keep control of House and Senate

WASHINGTON – Contrary to the headlines, the right wing is not imploding.

Republican leaders are covering all bases to ensure that billionaires like the Koch Brothers, hedge fund mogul Paul Singer and others continue to get what they want from the Senate, House and state houses across the country.

Although the Republicans are still fighting to capture the Executive Branch, they can live without a victory. They’ve done very well by just controlling the other branches of government.

For example, they’ve made sure the Koch brothers would not be annoyed by efforts to address climate change that might hurt their global fossil fuel empire. And they’ve stopped efforts to put the brakes on Paul Singer and his ilk, who make money by manipulating money.

Furthermore, through the Supreme Court and state legislatures, right wingers have taken rights away from poor and minority voters and given rights to corporations. They’ve also squashed workers’ rights, undermined unions and stopped the passage of a higher minimum wage.

Moreover, by capturing state houses right wingers have created voting districts to assure they get re-elected term after term.

Now, though, the Republicans are a bit worried. The Democrats need only five more seats to become the majority party in the Senate; four if they win the White House and Tim Kaine becomes Senate president.

But Republican operatives and their billionaire backers have a plan to hold on to their power: dump huge sums of money into Senate, House and gubernatorial races. The Washington Post reports that the Koch Brothers, Singer, Boston hedge fund operator Kenneth C. Griffin and others are pouring close to one billion dollars into more than 2,000 super PACS to help vulnerable Republican candidates.

“That haul,” according to the Post, “exceeds the totals amassed by super PACs in every previous cycle since they came on the scene in 2010.”

Some of this haul will go to candidates who support Trump, some to those who do not. The billionaires don’t care, as long as the candidates win.

For instance, Sen. John McCain of Arizona, a Trump supporter, is getting help from the Koch brothers and their buddies.

“Localize, localize, localize”

The politicians are following the advice of Republican strategist Whit Ayers, who wrote in a recent Washington Post OpEd that to win, Republican candidates for the House and Senate should gauge how much support Trump has in “in their particular state or district” and “respond [by] refusing to endorse the [presidential] nominee … allying themselves with a third-party candidate or standing by ‘the entire ticket’ and then talking about their own accomplishments.”

The key to victory, Ayers says, is to “localize, localize, localize.”

Ayers is on to something. All surveys show that more and more, voters are splitting their ticket, voting for the presidential candidate from one party and the candidates for House and Senate from another.

Among the Republican senators who are running for re-election and “distancing” themselves from Trump are Bob Portman of Ohio, Patrick Toomey of Pennsylvania, Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire, Mark Kirk of Illinois and Ron Johnson of Wisconsin.

All are receiving millions of dollars from the billionaire-backed PACs and all have anti-worker, anti-minority and anti-union records.

None support Hillary Clinton.

They are split as to who they do support, as are all the non-Trump Republican candidates across the nation. Some are saying they support Gary Johnson of the Libertarian Party, some don’t say who they back.

Republicans who have decided it’s best to distance themselves from Trump have used several rationalizations.

Some say they’re “shocked” at this or that Trump statement, although his racism, misogyny and general ignorance have been well known, and well documented, for decades.

In fact, politicians criticizing Trump today for his statements probably giggled at his jokes when he handed them campaign contributions in the past.

Other Trump-deniers say he doesn’t adhere to the “Republican principles” of honoring individual achievement no matter the race, religion or national background of the individual. Never mind that the Republican Party has blocked or tried to block every state or federal measure that might create achievement opportunities for people who start life disadvantaged.

And some Never Trumpers accuse Trump of not being “conservative” enough.


Time and again, Trump has demonstrated that his goals are no different from those of Mitt Romney, the Bush boys, or any of the Republican “establishment.” He’s for letting businesses run roughshod over the nation, free from regulation or taxation. He favors destroying unions, suppressing the right of poor people and minorities to cast ballots and he’s against a woman’s right to choose. In fact, Trump toes the line all the way down the right wing agenda.

Despite what they say, the leadership of the Republican Party doesn’t question Trump’s credentials as a right winger.

They question whether he has the skills to carry out the right wing agenda, or any agenda.

And they have seen for themselves that although Trump has attracted many new white working people into the Republican fold, he lacks the finesse to also attract the African American, Latino, and millennial voters it takes to win nationwide elections.

The dilemma faced by Republican officials is: While Trump is still on the scene, how do they keep the voters he’s won over and attract the voters he’s repelled?

Their answer: take many paths at once. Some Republican leaders support Trump, some do not. Many take a schizophrenic position. They say they will vote for Trump, but do not “endorse” him.

As Whit Ayers says in his Post article, “to win, Republican candidates need the votes of Trump Republicans and Never Trump Republicans as well as independents who find Donald Trump either refreshing or abhorrent.”

In other words, Ayers is urging Republicans to recognize one fact: despite their varying positions regarding Trump, they all share the same goal: maintain control of the U.S. government, with or without the presidency.

Progressives should keep this in mind as they work to defeat the Republican juggernaut in the upcoming elections. They should avoid getting caught up in the meaningless nuances of Republican rhetoric.

Photo: Win or lose the presidential election, the right wing is fighting to maintain control of the government through the House and the Senate.  |  World News


Larry Rubin
Larry Rubin

Larry Rubin has been a union organizer, a speechwriter and an editor of union publications. He was a civil rights organizer in the Deep South and is often invited to speak on applying Movement lessons to today's challenges. He has produced several folk music shows.