Liberals and the Koch Brothers.

I don't begrudge liberals who want to protest the Koch Foundation, or who feel that it has undue influence on the conduct of politics. But, for my part, I don't see the big deal. Which is to say that this seems like a little much:

An invitation-only political retreat for rich conservatives, run out of the spotlight for years by a pair of Kansas billionaires, became a public rallying point for liberal outrage on Sunday, as 11 busloads of protesters converged on a resort in the Southern California desert.

An estimated 800 to 1,000 protesters from a spectrum of liberal groups vented their anger chiefly at Charles and David Koch, brothers who have used many millions of dollars from the energy conglomerate they run in Wichita to finance conservative causes. More than two dozen protesters, camera crews swarming around them, were arrested on trespassing charges when they went onto the resort grounds.

Undoubtedly, the Koch brothers put a considerable amount of money in advancing conservative causes and aiding conservative politicians. But for actual elections, I'm not sure that it has a hugely measurable impact. Any given candidate's fate has more to do with fundamentals -- economic performance, presidential approval -- party affiliation, and the composition of her district than it does with outside money or the endorsement of a mostly anonymous organization. Put another way, if a progressive loses a marginal district, that has a lot more to do with the fact of running in a marginal district than it does with money from the Koch Brothers.

Of course, I don't want to discourage progressives from pushing back against misinformation or faulty views. It's incredibly valuable! But I'm not sure if it's wise to treat the Koch brothers -- or any set of right-wing donors -- as boogiemen. They can't shift the tides of public opinion, and they can't reverse an election result; all they can do is promote their ideas to elites, and -- in some cases -- make an electoral environment a little more favorable. In other words, I'm not sure that it's worth the energy to protest.

-- Jamelle Bouie

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