January 28, 2019

60-40 NATION:

Bipartisanship: A New Hope (JIM GERAGHTY, January 28, 2019, National Review)

In December, right before the government shutdown began, a surprisingly broad bipartisan coalition united behind long-discussed legislation on criminal-justice reform. The First Step Act won more than 350 votes in the House of Representatives and 87 votes in the Senate, and it was the rare time that the ACLU, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, the NAACP, and Kim Kardashian all applauded legislation signed by President Trump -- while scholars at the Heritage Foundation hailed it as "a conservative victory."

One year ago, attendees at the Koch Seminar Network's winter meeting talked up the criminal-justice reform and prison anti-recidivism programs relentlessly, when they were considered second-tier issues by most of Washington. At this year's winter meeting, the network of activist groups and nonprofits headed by Charles Koch have pointed to the push for criminal-justice reform as evidence that their playbook can work in an era of intensely divided government.

Addressing attendees Saturday night, the 83-year-old Charles Koch called on the network's members to "unite with people across the whole spectrum of viewpoints, of different ideas, including those who have been adversaries." He paused for a surprisingly long moment. "This attitude of holding against others who have different beliefs is tearing our country apart. What we're planning to do, and what we're doing, is bringing people together."

"Uniting broad coalitions is much more effective than partisan politics," said Brian Hooks, chairman of the Koch Seminar Network. In the coming year, the network will "really focus on uniting broad-based policy coalitions," Hooks said. "The next step forward is to go with what's working" as demonstrated in the passage of the First Step Act.

"Our efforts in criminal-justice reform are really a blueprint for going forward focusing on uniting the two sides," James Davis, a senior adviser to several of the network's member groups, told me. This means making more alliances with individuals and organizations that might have fought with the Koch networks in the past. Mark Holden, the Koch general counsel who spearheaded the groups' push for criminal-justice reform, noted that one of his closest allies on the issue, CNN commentator and former Obama-administration official Van Jones, once attended a protest against Americans for Prosperity and the Koch Brothers back in 2011. Last year, Holden and Jones were doing joint interviews, crediting each other for their efforts.

Posted by at January 28, 2019 6:10 PM