Libertarian God-Kings Throw in With Democratic Socialists

The well-heeled, much-feared Koch network announced from its biannual meeting in Colorado Springs this week that it would withhold support from Republican candidates in three of the eight closest races for U.S. Senate. The news, reported in Politico and elsewhere, probably shouldn’t come as a surprise. Libertarians, who value their utopian principles more than they value saving the political culture that indulges their fantasies, are very likely going to be the voting bloc that turns control of Congress over to Democrats in November. Why should the über Libertarian God-Kings, billionaire brothers Charles and David Koch, fail to act in accordance with these same fantasies?

And it is fantasy. You can’t shrink government if “free trade” has gutted the nation of jobs at the same time as “open borders” has flooded the nation with destitute immigrants.

That’s the logic that libertarians, funded by the Koch organizations, refuse to admit.

Enemy of Your Enemy is Not Your Friend
Instead, America’s libertarians trumpet a classical liberal dogma, repeating the same phrases almost mindlessly, their vacuity only matched by their certainty. Like glassy-eyed cult members, they seem to think the ideas they regurgitate constitute the only true path. Contrary opinions and cold facts, no matter how supported by evidence and reason, bounce off them like balloons on Mars.

In the case of the Kochs, maybe the agenda of free trade and open borders doesn’t have to connect with principles. It just helps if it looks that way. Because it might also have to do with keeping the Kochs’ foreign-based industries profitable, and it might also have to do with increasing the supply of labor in the United States in order to keep down wages.

And who knows, maybe the Kochs’ war on candidates who are too Trump-like may have to do as well with resurrecting the Koch image, so savaged by the Left. But what they’re forgetting is this: If your enemy (Democratic Socialists) have an enemy (Trump) that is suddenly your enemy too, that doesn’t make them your friend. It just makes them your enemy who is also the enemy of your other enemy. When your enemy, with your help, is done with your other enemy, don’t expect peace. Expect more war.

Was that too deep and convoluted? Sorry. Let’s express this concept in more immediate, concrete terms: the libertarian war on Trump is going to hand America back to the Democrats.

What Would Libertarians Prefer?
While the Kochs pull the plug on Republican Senate candidates 
Kevin Cramer in North Dakota, Dean Heller in Nevada, and Mike Braun in Indiana—presumably for some heresy or another against sacred libertarian “principles”—it is worth asking: How do the Kochs propose we should conduct our trade and immigration policies?

What is the ideal immigration policy according to the Kochs? Open borders? Nearly open borders, which is what we have now? Some other reform—and if so, what? Merit-based legal immigration as the president proposes, or something else? Let’s hear it.

What is the ideal trade policy according to the Kochs? Shall we just allow other nations to cheat, consistently imposing tariffs far greater than our own, and call it “free trade,” all while convincing ourselves there is no downside to allowing foreign investors to buy up American assets in order to balance the current account? How shall the Kochs propose we formulate our trade policies? Stay the course? Or what?

Perhaps the Kochs will please excuse those of us still clinging to the troglodytic notion that it’s bad, not good, for America to continue to import welfare recipients at the same time as it exports jobs. Is it even possible to reason with these God-Kings of Libertarian Land?

Maybe some of us aren’t placated by the fact that the current account is balanced by selling America’s domestic assets to foreigners. Particularly when these foreign investments tend to be concentrated either in real estate—which serves no economic purpose other than further to inflate the bubbly real estate portfolios of investment banks and public employee pension funds while turning ordinary Americans into either renters or mortgage slaves—or in strategic technology companies, at least those companies whose intellectual property they didn’t already steal.

“Starting a trade war.” No. Incorrect. We’ve been in one for years. Their tariffs are bigger than our tariffs. So to get their attention we raise our tariffs. Got a better idea? Let’s have it.

And maybe some of us simply don’t believe the utopian idea that we can import millions of people from medieval, hostile cultures, and magically turn them all into engineering Ph.D.’s who dabble in libertarian philosophy in their spare time. Maybe we recognize it as hubris reminiscent of the neoconservative fantasy that propelled America into Iraq in 2003. That fantasy held that all we had to do was topple a dictator, and everyone living there would suddenly become Jeffersonian Democrats, attending PTA meetings, having bake sales, and voting for safe, sane, moderate, vanilla candidates in an “American-style” democracy.

Oops. How did that turn out? But never mind. Let’s import millions of more refugees, while doctors from South Korea and engineers from Ukraine wait years for their legal visas. How’s that catchy phrase go? “Bomb ’em and bring ’em.” Brilliant.

Policies That Would Ensure Decline
Then there’s the federal budget deficit, and there’s welfare, both anathema to libertarians. They claim the trade deficit enables the budget deficit by giving foreign exporters with trade surpluses incentives to buy T-bills. And they claim that welfare is the problem, not immigrants who “do the jobs Americans won’t do.” But what if these libertarians are looking at a horse, and thinking it’s a cart? What if reducing the trade deficit would force establishment politicians to reduce the budget deficit since there would be fewer buyers of T-bills? What if eliminating illegal immigration would force establishment politicians to reduce welfare benefits since there would suddenly be more available jobs?

Globalism has its place, but America can’t help the world’s less fortunate if it’s culturally disintegrated and economically destitute. Compassionate nationalism depends on a coherent, prosperous nation.

The irony of the Kochs’ failed logic, and by extension, the entire libertarian movement’s failed logic, would be amusing if it weren’t so dangerous. Open borders and weak trade policies guarantee American decline. They guarantee social chaos and economic stagnation, to which the only possible response will be a government that is bigger than ever. Those wicked socialists, the supposed nemesis of the libertarian ideologues, must be laughing especially hard these days.

Photo credit: Joe Klamar/AFP/Getty Images

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About Edward Ring

Edward Ring is a senior fellow of the Center for American Greatness. He is also the director of water and energy policy for the California Policy Center, which he co-founded in 2013 and served as its first president. Ring is the author of Fixing California: Abundance, Pragmatism, Optimism (2021) and The Abundance Choice: Our Fight for More Water in California (2022).

Photo: Protesters attend a rally and march demanding Los Angeles Times not be sold to the Koch Brothers, portraits of which are held, May 23, 2013 in Beverly Hills, California. Charles and David Koch have donated millions to various conservative causes. AFP PHOTO /JOE KLAMAR (Photo credit should read JOE KLAMAR/AFP/Getty Images)