It’s a mistake to ask whether this is wealthy people defending their financial interests or wealthy people expressing their ideology, or which motivation is really in the driver’s seat. The triumph of modern conservatism is that it has collapsed the distinction. The interests of the wealthy are the ideology. Fossil fuels are the ideology. They’re bubbling in the same ethno-nationalist stew as anti-immigrant sentiment, hawkish foreign policy, hostility toward the social safety net, and fetishism of guns, suburbs, and small towns. It’s all one identity now. The Kochs (and their peers) are convinced that their unfettered freedom is in the best interests of the country. There’s no tension.
Concentrated wealth wants political results congenial to concentrated wealth. It has shaped an entire movement to that end, and the movement has absorbed all ancillary institutions, including supposedly independent, knowledge-producing institutions like academia and think tanks and supposedly public-interest-serving institutions like NGOs. The money flows from the wealthy and their corporations to PACs and foundations, to nonprofits and advocacy groups, to PR firms and activists. It’s like an electric charge going through a field of iron shavings, orienting them all in the same direction.
Policymakers are surrounded by the worldview of the wealthy; it comes at them from think tanks, lobbyists, activists, media, and their own social circles, becoming like water to a fish.
H/T: DR Tucker