There are lots of good reasons to hope that the Democrats suffer a humiliating defeat in November, and this one is pretty far down the list. Still, it isn’t insignificant: as we have documented over and over, the Democrats, from the White House and Harry Reid on down, have run this year’s campaign largely against Charles and David Koch. It is rare for the Democratic Party to send out a fundraising email that fails to invoke the specter of the “Koch brothers,” who are treated essentially as bogeymen.
This is unprecedented in our history. Never before has a political party based a campaign on demonizing individual, private citizens who hold opposing beliefs and who exercise their First Amendment right to participate in the political process. In my view, it would be a very bad thing if attacks like those the Democrats have made against Charles and David Koch–which, frankly, border on the insane–were to become the norm.
On Chris Matthews’ Hardball, Howard Fineman of the Huffington Post criticized the campaign the Democrats have run this year, and said specifically that “campaigning against the Koch brothers is idiotic.”
I hope he proves to be right. If the Democrats get clobbered in November, their anti-Koch strategy will go down as a failure, and parties in the future will be unlikely to repeat it. If, on the other hand, the Democrats outperform expectations, they likely will conclude that their diversionary attack on the Kochs worked, and they are likely to try the same thing in the future, against the Kochs or others who disagree with them. Our politics are plenty dirty enough without giving the Democrats that sort of encouragement.