Someone on Quora asked:

Do you believe that the Koch Brothers exemplify the values of the Republican Party?

To which I felt compelled to answer:

David Koch, at least, is an ardent Libertarian.

David H. Koch (political career)
David H. Koch (political views)

He serves on the board of the Cato Institute.  He ran as the VP candidate on the libertarian ticket in 1980.

[ I can’t believe I didn’t know that The Cato Institute used to be the Koch family foundation. But so it stands… Points if you can tell me, why “Cato,” without looking it up? Clue: Not Europe, North America.]

Older brother Charles is also involved with Cato and such, but a little less formally involved in the LP.

I’ve actually entertained the notion that the Kochs funded the launch of the Tea Party to entirely undermine the GOP.  But shhhhh.  I have enough of a tin hat rep.  Call me Cassandra…

Regardless of my opinions of their politics, they are VERY VERY smart men. I’ve watched their advocacy in the sciences and medicine at MIT.  The work they’ve set in motion with cancer and nanotech is elegant, precise, critical, necessary, spare.  Not an erg of energy wasted, and in a space that is requiring the perfect use of their money to create the best result, where the existing infrastructure would not have created what they saw as necessary to create progress.

In contrast, the Tea Party is a very very blind beast.  It’s not the sort of thing that a smart man would do to help an organization they liked.

Koch contributes to Reason Magazine.  Would you see that as the Tea Party demographic?  Or Cato as a Tea Party demographic?

Cato tries, but they find that they have no better luck lassoing the Tea Party than the dems had hauling in Occupy:
Page on Cato

The Tea Party exemplifies a great deal of the obscurantist mob idiocy that the GOP has cultivated in its ranks for decades, creating a facade by which it sent messages out while doing business behind closed doors.

Well, now, a whole cohort of politicos have come to DC with the assumption that that surface message is the entire medium of doing business in DC, and are sabotaging the entire party structure.

They haven’t gone through the vetting process of spending 10-20 years “coming up” through the local parties.  They used social media to go straight to DC through a populist push subsidized with Koch money.

They have no understanding of political realities, statecraft, compromise, realpolitik, international relations, the realities of regulation and bureaucracy, working good compromises for the sake of the whole country, not “my way or the highway,” and so on.  These are not Jeffersonian Citizens.  They are anti-incumbent incumbents.

And it’s killing the GOP and to some extent the federal government

What more could a ideological small government libertarian wish for?  It’s like killing a half dozen birds with one very expensive, high risk stone (which I expect they had to set in motion when Bush was still in office, and if I’m right here, it’s really masterfully done, but heinous from my point of view).

The Constitution was designed by sworn enemies after our own revolutionary war.  They put in checks and balances, so that none of their own factions could take control of the fledgling state.  No one party (of which at the time there were several).  No one branch of government.  Not the executive, courts, judiciary — or military (much less, God help us, the military contractors on the beltway and beyond — sorry Dwight!).

Checks and balances translates out:  no one wins, everyone gives up something, compromises are worked out for the best interest of the whole country.  No “majority takes all.” If tyranny tries to undermine the nation, failsafes cause the Constitution to make the government seize up, gridlock, stop working at all, effectively.  No winner-takes-all.

It is a sign of failure when the government ceases to work because it is trying to be too efficient.

It is supposed to be contentious.  It’s designed that way.  By geeks who argued day and into the night, then went out for beers, went back to their small chambers,and wrote furious letters home about what asshats they had to deal with all day over these losses in principle.  But they were doing good work in the end.

Those were our Founding Fathers — rather more like all of us, more than the plaster saints that get trotted out by orators on the House and Senate floors.  Makers, gardeners, inventors, poets, lawyers, explorers, warriors, engineers.

At the Congressional Congress, they gathered up — some were of such great disagreements on the course of the revolution and the new nation, that they published position papers on the constitution’s direction in the local newspaper under pseudonyms, so their thoughts wouldn’t get tainted by old animosities.  A lot like some modern internet conferences in a way!  This gave us the Federalist and Anti-Federalist Papers.

These men had such great passions for and against they had rivalries that lasted lifetimes.  In one case at least, it famously ended a life when Vice President Aaron Burr shot Secretary of the Treasury Alexander Hamilton dead, a lead ball through his liver lodging in his spine.  They met on the bluffs above the Hudson River where they had met in the morning mists, away from prying eyes of New York City for their illegal duel.  June 4, 1804.

These were not plaster saints.  Burr later planned to invade Mexico, sort of a “better to ask forgiveness than permission” sort of thing, but was headed off and brought to trial — and acquitted. Exciting times.  He died in his bed, in the mid 1830s.

We think that history was exciting, perhaps.  That a fiction such as Game of Thrones is exciting.

That any account of current events that is too exciting must be “conspiracy theory.”

But actually, current events are quite exciting.  You have to have a very sober understanding of history, risk management, politics and so on, and a willingness to stand corrected and listen to others with more experience and savvy, and exercise analysis and judgment — but it becomes pretty easy over the years to tell the wheat from the chaff.

When you come to a sober understanding of politics, current events, diplomatic affairs, economics and so on — you have opened up the most amazing life-action role playing game in the world.  Real time, with real stakes, and the potential to help real people, every single day (and screw up amazingly).  By building a good team and making good friends, you can create meaning, engagement, even “save the world” — the best “score” in this life.

Whether you are Republican (and I know a lot of lovely GOP folks), Democrat, LP, Anarchist, Green, independent, whatever — you should be thinking about these things and DOING something about them, in your community, in your field of work if appropriate, with your political and civic organizations, and so on.

The world is falling apart from deferred maintenance because a lot of people in our democracies have decided “politics is ikky.”

And that means that only people who transcend that, or in many cases people who are perfectly fine with ikky politics, go into the arena.

Those of us who got over the “politics is ikky” thing?  We could use your help with the “perfectly fine with ikky politics” contingent.

It’s always easier to destroy things than to maintain them, and honestly I think there are fewer of us.

Get involved.  I don’t know about Uncle Sam, but Mama Shava needs you! :)