What Do the Koch Brothers Do After Spending $643 Million and Losing? Double Down

Typically, when an investment runs sour, an experienced business mind is careful to assess all possible options. If an investment produces zero return, a wise investor will be careful before returning to such a money trap. 

Investors in political causes flocked toward the 2012 presidential election like moths to a flame. For moguls Charles and David Koch, it presented an opportunity to oust the evil man in the Oval Office. The brothers’ combined wealth is greater than anyone else in the world. As such, they are not particularly keen about things not going their way.

Americans For Prosperity — the Koch brothers’ 501(c)(4) non-profit — embodied the vehicle primed to pulverize any interests not aligning with the Kochs'. The libertarian-leaning duo tend to funnel resources toward "economic freedom" related causes. Perhaps most noticeably, the money-wielding titans sought to raze all eco-minded and labor-related causes. The International Forum on Globalization reported the Kochs spent $643 million to "block or roll back legal protections for the clean air, clean energy, clean water, and other environmental issues." How did they pull it off? Lobbying congressmen, giving special funding to media outlets, and pouring money into presidential campaign coffers.

With sequestration talks showing no signs of life, bipartisanship’s extinction announces itself yet again. The Republican State of the Union response featured bilingual Marco Rubio and Tea Party favorite Rand Paul. The long-term direction of the GOP remains unclear as the divisive Tea Party continues to gain momentum. Nonetheless, the GOP spirit remains stunned since the election.

Their bet failed. A lot of money is now down the drain. How will the Koch brothers move forward with their investment? More importantly, how will this translate to a shift within Republican politics?

After the investment season failed to produce the gains Koch brothers are used to seeing, Americans For Prosperity is headed back to the drawing board. Most of its 100-plus employees were fired, including its chief operating officer.

The Kochs are cleaning house, but does this not translate to any intention of letting up. Call them stubborn. In the eyes of two proud libertarians, the battle is just getting started.

2012 was just a drop in the bucket. Through the fog, their willingness to throw around cash is undiminished. A systematic restructuring and retooling are now in order. After the election, David Koch triumphed to Forbes that "We’re going to study what worked, what didn’t work, and improve our efforts in the future. We’re not going to roll over and play dead."  

Defeat is bitter, buut so is truth. Kevin Gentry, a top Koch insider, was reported by Politico to be circulating an email regarding "a growing belief that one the Obama campaign's competitive advantages was their analytical approach to almost all of their messaging." When it comes to organizational efficiency, if you can't beat them, might as well mime them.

The promising resurgence of the Kochs indicates a libertarian ideology focused on reviving the GOP through an emphasis on devotional principles. The growing Tea Party power in the political landscape is exemplified by their title": "the most anti-environmental Congress in history." While the Kochs may take solace through complete, hardline support of their ideals, continued refusal to work with Democrats because of "principles" hamstrings the duty of the federal government. If the Kochs do acquire the ideological support they need, however, look for a Republican party that will struggle in its attempt to increase demographics.

The Kochs will persist in investing in their ideals. In their eyes, it is a smart move. Only time will tell if status quo conservatism can maintain its foothold in American politics under such assault from the libertarian right.

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Grant Ferowich

Grant studies at Wake Forest, where he majors in philosophy and economics.

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