So Charles Koch, one half of the notorious Koch Brothers, the rightwing billionaires who used to think Mike Pence might be presidential stuff, said it’s “possible,” he could vote for Hillary Clinton.
With friends like these, Hillary must be thinking, O, boy.
But that’s the kind of primary season this has turned out to be. When the voting in Indiana — a state so off the campaign radar no one bothers to polling here until the last minute — appears to matter, you know things have become interesting in the Chinese sense, as in the ancient proverb, “May you live in interesting times.”
Koch, of course, is only interested in Clinton to the extent that he has been repelled by the two leading candidates on the Republican side, Trump and Cruz. These two have been dope-slapping their way around the country like a political Punch and Judy show. When last I checked, their latest tiff concerned North Carolina’s brouhaha over public bathroom rights.
At issue was whether a transgender person, Caitlin Jenner, say, should be able to use a Women’s room, or be forced to use the WC corresponding to the gender listed on her birth certificate. Trump basically shrugged, said let her use whatever bathroom she wants. Cruz blew a gasket.
This controversy over who can use which public bathroom has been the hankie waved by North Carolina Republicans in an effort to distract people from the Republicans’ larger purpose: undermining local anti-discrimination ordinances as a way of maintaining second class citizenship for LGBT people.
In this, North Carolina Republicans resemble their Indiana counterparts, who have used religious freedom as cover for the perpetuation of discriminatory practices.
Both states have had to pay somewhat of a price for this retrograde political behavior. Indiana was publicly embarrassed. North Carolina has been boycotted by performers like Bruce Springsteen and Cirque de Soleil.
Unfortunately for both states, the public shaming and boycotting has only served to further isolate their delusional political elites from what’s happening in the rest of the country. In Indiana, where, thanks to Soviet-style redistricting and one of the country’s first restrictive voter ID laws, Republicans control just about everything that matters, there’s little incentive for self-analysis or critique.
As the Star
’s Tim Swarens, himself an avowed Republican, wrote fretfully about the scene at a recent Republican fund-raiser: “The state GOP is still a largely older, white crowd even as a diverse generation of millennials takes over more and more positions of power in other areas of society.”
Which is exactly the point. And as long as there are no political consequences, it is the state GOP’s reason for being: to hold the line against a future that looks and acts different.
It is also why so many Republican honchos can’t stand their frontrunner. In his self-absorbed quest for the presidency, Donald Trump has unapologetically stripped each of his opponents naked. In so doing, he turns out to be the closest thing to a party reformer Republicans have seen since Reagan.
No wonder Koch’s eyes are crossing.