The Koch Brothers’ Next Step: Make The GOP More Libertarian?

Senior editor for Mother Jones, Daniel Schulman, has written a fascinating book called Sons of Wichita: How the Koch Brothers Became America’s Most Powerful and Private Dynasty. While some might have suspected it would be a hit piece, the book has turned out to be an evenhanded look at a fascinating, if controversial, family. The other week, I wrote about his condemnation of Harry Reid’s criticism of the Kochs. And yesterday, I had a chance to talk with the author, myself, about the book.

It was a wide-ranging conversation, but one area of interest to me (and an area that I suspect hasn’t gotten enough attention) is the possibility that — once Obama is safely out of the picture — the Kochs might pivot and focus on using their newfound influence in the GOP to move the party in a more libertarian direction.

This is something that Schulman hinted to me was at least a possibility:

That’s sort of the million dollar question right now. But I think in the current tenor of the Republican Party, you certainly did see things moving a bit in that direction. You have sort of rising stars like Rand Paul, whose political beliefs are very much in line with the Koch Brothers.


It’s an open question whether they’re huge supporters of Rand Paul, but this has to do with some really byzantine factionalization that took place in the libertarian movement of the 1970s and 80s with…Rand Paul’s dad. But I do think that you could see them exerting their muscle a little bit more in this direction.


I mean, they were quite upset — as were a lot of Republicans — with some of the candidates that were fielded in 2012 — the sort of Todd Akins who, you know, brought up things like “legitimate rape”… So now, there’s a sort of a Koch-affiliated candidate recruitment group that is out there that is trying to find electable libertarian, free-market-minded candidates, so I think you’ll see more of that in the future.

I don’t want to make too much out of this, but the Kochs are surprisingly liberal on social issues, and were, for decades, viewed with skepticism by many mainstream conservatives and Republicans. You can listen to my full conversation with Daniel Schulman here:

… And if you’re interested in these kinds of conversations with authors, check out some of these terrific recent interviews:

David R. Stokes on his new book Capitol Limited: A Story About John Kennedy And Richard  Nixon.

Randall Balmer on his book Redeemer: The Life of Jimmy Carter.

Ken Adelman on his latest book Reagan at Reykjavik: Forty-Eight Hours that Ended the Cold War.

… If you like these kinds of long-form conversations with authors and opinion leaders, make sure to download the podcast on iTunes!