Monday, July 07, 2014

Koch Brothers Boogieman is about the Base

From one of no fewer than FIVE emails in this afternoon's in box with "Koch Brothers" in the subject line:
Des Moines Register Highlights Koch Brothers’ Attempts to Buy U.S. Senate Seat for Joni Ernst

Ernst would fulfill Kochs’ anti-Iowa agenda by privatizing Social Security, turning Medicare into voucher system, opposing minimum wage increase

Des Moines -- With outside special interests like the Kochs having already dumped more than $2 million to ensure State Senator Joni Ernst can fulfill their shared anti-Iowa agenda in Washington, the Koch brothers and their dark-money group Americans for Prosperity (AFP) are now further expanding their efforts to buy Iowa’s U.S. Senate seat. As reported in Sunday’s Des Moines Register, the out-of-state oil billionaires are trying to “change the landscape of politics here for a generation” with millions of dollars to elect special-interest candidates like Ernst who wants to privatize Social Security, turn Medicare into a voucher system, and opposes any kind of federal minimum wage...
Legitimate and valid points all. But the issues themselves are buried below the label "Koch Brothers."

Maybe I'm wrong. Maybe this has been polled and focus grouped. But I'm having trouble believing that continual messaging about "the Koch Brothers" is going to sway average, non-political activist Iowa voters. The average non-political activist Iowa voter thinks the Coke Brothers want four fried chickens and some dry white toast with that.

Aretha knows better, and so do you. You're reading a political blog. You understand the significance of the unprecedented influx of unreported money in our election process. But campaign finance reform is a lot like redistricting reform. It plays a critical, even decisive, role in election outcomes. But it's inside baseball, meaningless to the average voter.

The non-activist's perception of campaign finance is: "politicans are all crooks." There's no distinction between the loose, weak restrictions of the past, and the free for all of the post Citizens United era. (Citizens United. Another buzzword for insiders that's meaningless to Real People.) No differentiation between the donations of good-intentioned citizens (on both sides of the aisle) and self-interested lobbies (again on both sides of the aisle).

The neutered and neutralized "objective" media, by fueling false equivalence between huge corporate interests and much smaller progressive groups, between many many Republican billionaires and one George Soros, makes matters worse.

No, to the non-activist, to the 90-plus percent of the population that has never given money to a political race, campaign donations of any sort are automatically suspect. And the solutions are non-starters. Public finance? Until reformers can answer the "taxpayer subsidy for politicians" attack in an equally simple sound bite, that's going nowhere.
The only campaign reforms you could sell to most swing voters would be bans on the tools of the trade, the "negative" ads and direct mailers and robo-calls.

None of this is to say education efforts like Move To Amend are pointless.  Public education on these issues are important. But it's a VERY long haul we're not at a point yet where this is going to resonate and swing votes for THIS election cycle.

My sense is that the repeated hammering by Democrats on "the Koch Brothers" as shorthand for all the untraceable conservative money isn't about swing voters. It's about using that boogeyman to fire up the base and raise some money. Which says a lot about this year's big picture strategy.

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