Common Ground Between Kochs and Sanders?

In a recent Washington Post op-ed, billionaire industrialist Charles Koch discussed some agreement he has with Vermont Senator and Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders. This seeming agreement between the two men has drawn quite a few raised eyebrows, working off the supposition that there was no agreement between the two men.

Bernie Sanders has not wasted any opportunity on the campaign trail, or in the many years beforehand, to label both Koch brothers as being the most aggressive supporters of dark money in American politics. However, despite this obvious animosity, Charles Koch agrees with two main components of Sanders’ campaign platform: the criminal justice system operates in a fashion that takes advantage of the poor and ethnic minorities, and the American economy is designed to keep money in the hands of a privileged few.

Though Koch agrees that these are problems, he sees the remedies to them quite differently. Reinforcing his political stances, Koch sees further government involvement, what Sanders has proposed, is an element that strengthens these destructive practices. The concept of a smaller government is something both Koch brothers have supported with billions of dollars spent during election years to help conservative candidates get elected to office, both at the state level and nationally. Their political contributions are set to continue throughout the year. For the 2016 presidential race, the Koch brothers are expected to spend about $900 million in contributions, which would put them at twice the amount spent in 2012.

Their financial involvement in political races have made the Koch brothers both visible to the American public, and vulnerable to attacks over their activities. Yet Charles sees no incentive to pull back his dealings, as he sees limiting government involvement as instrumental to solving social ills. He reiterated this while also notifying the public that Koch Industries rejects government and ethanol subsidies, and their political participation is not motivated by business but by conscience.

In the case of the criminal justice system, for example, Charles Koch pointed out a clear correlation between small offenses of drug possession to a predatory practice of incarceration that institutes mandatory minimums, making any attempt at a life free from the grip of drugs a near impossibility. Showing that he’s beyond relying on low-level charges to provide reliable employers, Koch Industries has removed questions concerning criminal records on their job applications.

Apparently there exists some agreement between Sands and the Koch brothers, but, as the campaign trail has suggested again and again, the manner by which they remedy these situations differ greatly.

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