America has a funny relationship with those some might call "the super wealthy." On the one hand, they are often lionized for their charity and for the role they play in the civic and cultural life of the nation. On the other there are those, like President Barack Obama, who accuse them of "not paying their fair share," as though their voluntary giving, while not part of their tax payments, counts for nothing.
It was not that long ago that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid launched an attack on a group of 17 angry, white billionaires—whom he then declined to name—charging they were trying to corrupt the political process. What goes unsaid is that the Nevada Democrat's definition of corruption means, in this case, that these "billionaires" are spending their money to support causes and issues to which Obama, Reid, and the other so-called progressives are unalterably opposed.
To them it matters little that people like the DeVos family, who are major stakeholders in Amway, give away millions each year in support of community organizations and national civic treasures like President George Washington's home at Mount Vernon. Or that David Koch, whom—with his brother Charles—the White House and its friends like to hold up as the personification of what is wrong with America, may be the single most generous person in America when it comes to funding innovative research in the ongoing battle against all kinds of cancer.
To the left contributions made in these areas are meaningless because, when it comes to political giving, the DeVos family, the Kochs, and others like them stand firm in their support of American exceptionalism and free markets and against collectivism.
The left's response to the DeVos family's philanthropy? Boycott the company and its products because its founders are stalwart supporters of marriage as traditionally defined. Its response to the Kochs? Fund a "super PAC" whose mission it is to make the family a household name—and not in a good way—while smearing its reputation and the reputation of the business the family has owned, operated, and grown for several decades.
There are several reasons for this. Some are immediate, like the need to mobilize the left to turn out in the November elections. Others are longer term. But all are in support of an agenda to destroy the free market system that has made America the envy of the world and replace it with a collectivist societal structure that makes government not just an equal partner with the citizenry but its ultimate master.
The personalization of the attacks against private citizens has long been a staple of the progressive movement. At the beginning of the 20th century, as America was undergoing a rapid period of industrialization, the progressives attacked the so-called "robber barons" who built some of the nation's great companies. What they forget to mention, and what the progressive of today likewise fail to understand, is that living standards were raised for everyone.
As a result of the businesses these people built Americans as a group live longer, are healthier, better educated, safer, and more prosperous than just about any other people on the planet. Who among us, after all, would chose to leave the United States to go live in Kenya or Indonesia or Chad or Paraguay if given the choice? Even the poorest Americans are still better off than most of the world.
This is not an accident. It is the result of the success of what some refer to as capitalism, though not always admiringly. It is the free market system that has made this country great and it is only the free market system that will keep it great. Personalized attacks on those who support it are not merely partisan in nature; they run against the grain of everything the country stands for.