By Ethan Rome - Executive Director, Health Care for America Now
Americans for Prosperity, the right-wing advocacy tool of the infamous Koch Brothers, is hosting a national conference Friday and Saturday cynically called, "Defending the American Dream." Featured speakers include Herman Cain, Mitt Romney and Rudy Giuliani. They've got workshops on topics like killing collective bargaining and repealing health care reform.
Health Care for America Now and the advocacy group The Other 98%, along with several other organizations, are sponsoring a counter-protest Friday night to expose the corrosive role of corporate money in politics and the dangerous agenda of organizations like Americans for Prosperity (AFP) that want to keep the richest people and corporations from paying their fair share in taxes and to eliminate important programs like Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security. (Click here and here for event information).
Charles and David Koch are the biggest players in extremist Republican politics. They've personally contributed more than $85 million to right-wing causes over the last 15 years. They convene regular meetings of super-rich people and organize them to contribute large sums to their campaign to destroy the American Dream, shrink the middle class, increase America's growing income inequality, preserve tax breaks for special interests like Big Oil, and strip workers of their rights. They'll do anything, no matter how harmful it may be to our country, to advance the interests of big corporations and the 1%.
In August of 2009 the drive for health care reform was almost derailed as the tea party disrupted one congressional town hall after another, dominating the news with anti-government Obama-haters spouting falsehoods about death panels. Most of the "grassroots activity" was astroturfing, powered by right-wing groups in Washington, D.C. and funded by the Kochs, who were dubbed the "financial engine of the tea party" by none other than Mitt Romney.
For those of us fighting for health care reform, the forces against us in those town halls almost stopped our campaign in its tracks. But something even more dramatic was taking shape. The so-called tea party movement was gaining steam, and it was getting help, direction and amplification from a variety of organizations that represent and are funded by corporate lobbyists, not real people. It was a movement conceived and driven by a Republican issue advocacy machine, and the Kochs' fingerprints were all over it. Then things got even worse in 2010 thanks to the U.S. Supreme Court's destructive Citizens United decision, which gave a major boost to the Kochs' rapidly expanding political empire.
AFP is the Koch Brothers front group at the center of all this. Along with FreedomWorks and other organizations backed by the Kochs and their allies, AFP is dedicated to stopping progressive change everywhere they can and rolling back the clock on every important social and economic justice achievement in our country.
The Kochs and their front groups are trying to steal our democracy. They and their cronies have purchased the Republican Party to serve their agenda of destroying America's middle class, including crushing workers and their unions.
Back in February, Americans for Prosperity sent busloads of people to Madison, Wisconsin, to support Gov. Scott Walker's attempt to decimate Wisconsin's public service unions and the middle class they helped build, while more than 100,000 people rallied for their rights.
Right now in Ohio, the Kochs, AFP, Republicans like Karl Rove and a host of fanatical right-wing organizations are doing everything they can to block an effort by the 99% to repeal the new state law that strips public employees of the right to bargain for stronger and safer communities and a better life for their families.
All across the country people are raising their voices in protest because they're fed up with a system stacked in favor of the richest 1%.
Progressives are on offense right now. Let's keep that going.
For more information about Occupy the Kochs, click here. Follow news about the event on Twitter at #OccupytheKochs.