The Donor Class

Buried in today’s lead editorial in the Wall Street Journal by Daniel Henninger is the following clear identification of the plutocrats who for the last forty years have been shaping our politics from their duck blinds. “Prend garde!” (stay alert) is our message this morning.


For anyone whose job now is to unify the Republican Party after its neutron-bomb primary, the problem doesn’t run just down ballot, but also down donor. There is a risk the donors might start turning off the party’s financial oxygen, down or up ballot, when Donald Trump needs more of it than even he’s got.

Understand, this isn’t about the money. It’s about the reasons behind the money.

Sentenced as he’s been to hang out with Republicans and compete against Ted Cruz the past year, Mr. Trump by now has heard of “the donor class.”

Allow me to explain.

The idea of a “donor class” was conjured by the people who picked Ted Cruz as their candidate to take control of the Republican Party—essentially, a coup. Also folded in as a target of this largely manufactured anger was the “Establishment.” Mr. Koch at some point must have noticed these people really weren’t distinguishing between crony capitalists, his own bête noire, and conservative contributors.

Their historic bad luck is that Donald Trump stole the real anger, and they lost everything—the party, the presidency and credibility. Saying amid the GOP primaries that it’s “possible” he could support Hillary was a Kochian shot across the bow of the manic Republicans.

Charles Koch’s history, like that of hundreds of other “donors” from his generation—most of them builders of their own businesses—runs parallel to the rise of the conservative movement as a political force since Ronald Reagan.

These men and a not insignificant number of women would say they’ve been in the business for decades of finding out how to make America great again, and keep it that way.

That movement ran alongside the Republican Party and at times overlapped with it.

Mr. Koch years ago helped start the Cato Institute. Other funders were behind the Hoover Institution, the American Enterprise Institute, the original Heritage Foundation, the Competitive Enterprise Institute and many state-based think tanks.

These donors wanted a politics based on ideas, not just data-slicing votes by neighborhood.

Those ideas—on taxes, regulation, public pensions, commercial liability, welfare, education, policing—fed into a long list of often unlikely electoral victories.

Most recently, it has produced Republican governors in Democratic states: Bruce Rauner in Illinois, Rick Snyder in Michigan, Larry Hogan in Maryland, Charlie Baker in Massachusetts, Chris Christie in New Jersey and Scott Walker in Wisconsin. The Left demonizes something called “the Koch brothers” because this movement turned the Democrats into losers.

A remarkable number of these governors, like Mr. Trump, were businessmen, party outsiders. But they absorbed the ideas of successful conservatism. Whether this was “presidential” or “gubernatorial” is beside the point. It worked.

The counterpart to all this is the galaxy of wealthy liberal donors who will pay for Hillary’s war on Donald Trump to protect what they achieved in the Obama years.



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