Monday, March 07, 2016

In Defense Of The GOP "Establishment"

by JASmius

I've got a lot to say in this regard, but let me dispense with some shameless trolling first:

Fox News Channel anchor Bret Baier said it’s possible that some Republicans will vote for Hillary Clinton just to stop Donald Trump from taking over the party.

“Listen, there are Republicans in Washington who are privately saying that already,” Baier told TheWrap on Monday. “Maybe some don’t publicly say it, but I think there are some who are that adamant about it who would.”

Baier is entitled to his opinion, but his opinion can be best summed up in one word: Bullshit.  Or, if you prefer, two words: Bull....shit.  I've long since lost count of how many times I've said this, mostly because I'll be saying it countless times more over the next eight months (to the day, actually), but a Donald Trump GOP nomination means two Democrats on the ballot this fall.  It'd be as if Bill turned in his Arkie twang for a "New Yooakah" accent and temperament and challenged Bernie or Hillary.  There would literally be nothing to gain from picking the undisguised Donk from the deep cover Donk in policy or ideological terms.

But let's indulge Baier's hypothesis just for giggles (amply deserved given what a depressingly pro-Trump craphole Fox News has become - i.e. "Consider the source"): What would be the logic, if there was any, of such an act?  (1) Losing the presidency to the Left for the third consecutive election would be unavoidable, whether it was Rodham, Sanders, or Trump; but (2) with Rodham or Sanders, the Left would be ruling via their own party, and the GOP could - note I'm not saying would - heal these gigantic rips in party unity and come together in opposition to a common foe, whereas under Trump, the Left would be ruling the country via OUR party as well as theirs, and conservatives would be not only out of power, but effectively exiled from national politics altogether, stripped of even the means of competing for a return to power and influence.

Hmmmm; maybe it's not such BS after all.  Note, though, what that means about ideological alignments: That the GOP "establishment" is conservative, and Donald Trump and his batty cultists are, wittingly or unwittingly (a distinction without a difference at this point) opposition agents provocateur.

I still think it's crapola, because the GOP "establishment" isn't capable of anything remotely describable as "Machiavellian-ism," which a "Vote for Hillary or Bernie to stop Trump" gambit would definitely be, and Trump can't win any general election matchup in any case given (1) his lack of campaign organization, (2) his unwillingness (and likely inability to afford), despite all his "I can't be bought" boasting (like it would be necessary....) to self-fund a general campaign, (3) his near-total dependence upon free, blanket media coverage that would evaporate the moment he became the GOP nominee, leading to (4) the $2 billion "punch" that would be haymakering toward his glassiest of jaws.

Plus, if the "establishment" would take Hillary or Bernie over Trump, why has Lindsey Graham buried that hatchet with....Ted Cruz?

So Baier's troll is bullshit.  Luke Russert's is horseshit, because that's a slightly bigger animal:

Believe or not, there are  on the Hill that want to get destroyed this elex to finally "break the fever" of far right & moderate in '20

"Use your brain, Luke" - there's no such thing as "far Right," there is perhaps ten percent of the Republican Party "on the Hill," tops, that qualify as actual "moderates," and it's only the "far Right" that actually believes the nonsensical fiction that you can "win by losing" in politics.

It's this bogus labeling that gets at the heart, I believe, of what is the fundamental misunderstanding that Tea Partiers have about what they sneeringly call the "establishment" - a term that has been so utterly drained of any real-world meaning that is has been reduced to a profane epithet.  They think it's a difference of ideology - hence the annoying catchphrases such as "the cockroaches in Washington" (which is stupid because we can't change Washington without winning elections to get there, but by this logic, if everybody in Washington is a "cockroach," anybody "of our own" that we send there by definition becomes "the enemy") and "there's not a dime's worth of difference between the two parties," a moronic assertion to which the Democrats never seem to subscribe.  But it isn't ideological; the GOP has never been more conservative, and compared to the pre-Goldwater days, and even the transitional days from Goldwater to the Reagan Revolution to the Gingrich Revolution, when the Republican Party really was center-left, there's simply no possible comparison.  To say nothing of the fact that the Democrat Party is openly espousing Marxism and has been for at least the past fifteen years.  Dimes, in other words, aren't worth nearly that much.

No, my Tea Party friends, you (those that haven't betrayed conservatism by defecting to Trump) are conservatives and the "establishment" is conservatives.  We're ALL conservatives.  So it is not a matter of ideology.

It's a matter of temperament.

The 2010 midterms were a smashing, blowout triumph for the GOP, and a desperately needed regaining of a D.C. power platform from which to halt the Obama blitzkrieg - which they did.  But it did the Tea Party no favors in the longer term, because it seeded in the minds of so many political newcomers that made up the bulk and backbone of the movement the idea that "restoring the Republic" was going to be a cakewalk that would be a function of the righteousness of the cause and the willingness to "Fight!  Fight!  Fight!" their way to ultimate victory.  The flip side of that "coin" was the belief that "establishment" ideological perfidy and "complicity" were why the country fell under Obamunist domination in the first place and so the GOP needed to be "purged" and "purified" of all its "cockroaches," which was seen as being even easier than "restoring the Republic".

The last five-plus years have been a case study in what happens when a group embarks on such an epic endeavor on such grievously false assumptions, the product of initial success convincing them they didn't need to learn the basic nuts & bolts of how politics actually works.

Lesson #1: Every election cycle is different.  You can't count on the same dynamic that gained your side sixty-six House seats and seven Senate seats without Barack Obama at the top of the ballot carrying over to the next cycle where he is.  And it didn't.

Lesson #2: The other side gets to fight back - and they fight dirty.  The Left saw what happened in '10, how the Tea Party arose spontaneously from the grassroots up and re-energized the Right and put the GOP back in the game in D.C.  So they used the power and assets they still controlled to "strike back," law and Constitution be damned, to make sure it didn't happen again.  Hence, IRSgate, Lois Lerner, John "Department Store Mannequin" Koskinen, and the effective shutting down of the Tea Party movement.  Without that same energy available to it, and with Obama on the ballot this time, the Dems retained the White House, expanded their Senate majority, and narrowed their House deficit.

Did Tea Partiers learn either of these lessons?  Of course not.  Their front-running, "victory entitlement" and "right makes might" and "evil can only triumph if we don't take action" mentality wouldn't permit it.  So the only other explanation was that "Mitt Romney sucks" and didn't "fight hard enough" and "wasn't conservative enough" and "the 'establishment' screwed us again".  No acknowledgement that sometimes the other side just wins, that perhaps we nominated the best candidate we had and theirs was just better, that the political "winds" were just "blowing" against us, and that - and TPers never want to hear this, but it's true - Barack Obama HAS "fundamentally transformed" the country and it just isn't conservative anymore.  Or, put another way, "It's no longer morning in America".

You can't get started on a "cure" if you won't accept the "prognosis," but stubbornly reject it on the grounds that it came from an "expert" you insist on scapegoating for the "illness".  Puerile, irrational, misdirected resentment, in other words, is not a philosophy.  Nor is "anger".  But that's the path down which a lot of Tea Partiers went after 2012, which gave us such delightful debacles as ObamaCare "Defundageddon," the post-Boehner attempt to smear and mug Paul Ryan, the Omnibus tantrum soon thereafter. and, of course, Trumpmania.  Whereas the "establishment," navigating through this fratricidal maelstrom, managed to field an array of competent, professional candidates, particularly on the Senate side, in the 2014 midterms and ran the table, picking up nine seats and building the GOP's biggest House majority in seventy years.  Which, yes, is a good thing for conservatism even if for the fact that those are seats the Democrats do not control from which they can't wield power against us.

Not ideology, but temperament.  Or try it this way: The Democrats are revolutionaries, and the Republicans are not counterrevolutionaries, because those are their respective temperaments.  The GOP grassroots wants counterrevolutionaries, and because our party is not capable of delivering that trait, they want to do the Democrats' job of destruction for them.  Like that will accomplish anything towards "restoring the Republic".

All of which underscores another truth that Tea Partiers don't want to hear, but which Trumpmania has borne out spectacularly: The "establishment" knows more about politics than they do, and is more committed to the cause of conservatism than they are, precisely because they both know how to defend and advance conservative principles within the bounds of our constitutional system and that that system means it is going to be a long, hard slog, not a free and easy sprint:

1. The Establishment [know]s the Constitution [is designed for] good government [to] grind slowly and finely.

What happens when the government is divided? It grinds even more slowly and finely.

This frustrates and angers the anti-establishmentarians. Solution? Throw rocks at their own side?

The best way to break the gridlock is to stop angrily tilting at Establishment windmills and win the White House in 2016 by focusing on the DNC.

A case of so-called "constitutional conservatives" deciding the Constitution no longer suits them when it keeps them from getting what THEY want, and blowing the Founding Document out the nearest airlock to chase after their own pompadoured Obama.

2. The Establishment sees that America is center-right, not hard right.

This has been said before, but let’s take it in another direction. Let’s imagine that twenty-five percent of the electorate self-identifies as liberal and thirty-three percent as conservative.

What about the forty-two percent? (We could break them down further, but let’s not get complicated in a post like this.)

They wait and see. They’re easily spooked. And the Establishment wisely knows a significant percentage of them always decide presidential elections.

The Grand Illusion, typically perpetrated by the anti-Establishment radio talkers as a class (with some exceptions): it is easier to drag the forty-two percent to the hard right than it is to bring them center-right.

Brute Reality, typically perpetrated by the Establishment: society doesn’t work that way. It moves by degrees. It is easier to coax the forty-two percent toward the center-right.

I don't think there's any real-world distinction between "center-right" and "hard right".  Again, it's a matter of temperament and tactics and what will work and what won't in defending and advancing the cause.  Anger and hostility and negativity will repel the "low-information voters," while sunniness and optimism and a smile and a twinkle in the eye while selling the same basic message will attract them.  That's why I argue that Trump is trying to sabotage the GOP in this election cycle, and why Ronald Reagan was the greatest POTUS of the twentieth century.  To win elections, you need to build majority coalitions, and in majority coalitions, you need transient, whim-driven voters who are less hardcore than you are, because "True Believers" will ALWAYS be the minority.

In a sane, rational cycle, Marco Rubio would be running away with the GOP nomination, because his is by far the most Reaganesque demeanor.  That he's the next also-ran to be dragging his feet on publicly acknowledging that reality is why I say that the 2016 election is almost (depending upon if Cruz can stop Trump) certainly already lost.

3. The Establishment believes it is better to win elections.

That’s the main goal of political parties. The DC GOP Establishment needs to build a big coalition among competing members in society and win elections with as many voters from the forty-two percent as the Establishment can muster.


4. The Establishment looks for candidates who can realistically appeal to the easily scared forty-two percent.

How many anti-establishment, “true” conservatives who primaried the Establishment candidates in Statewide or House elections actually won? Precious few.

The right candidate: the man who lifts people up, doesn’t traffic in anger, knows the issues cold, projects a positive, smiling, friendly image - so important among the Selfie voters - doesn’t scare away Hispanic voters, and can work with other members of the Washington Establishment.

Or what Trumplicans sneeringly mislabel "political correctness".

Who? Rubio. But will the Establishment get credit if he rises and wins the nomination and the White House (but only after confusion)? Of course not.

It’ll get blamed for "mysteriously" blocking Trump or Cruz, both of whom are tapping into a small, angry subset of the thirty-three percent (and a little from the forty-two) and who therefore could never win the calmer, rational swing voters among the forty-two.

Something about nominating the most electable conservative comes to mind.

That, again, was Rubio.  Cruz fits into the "electable" conservative category as well; he's just not AS electable as Rubio.

5. The Establishment celebrates Guy Fawkes’ failure.

In 1605 he loaded Parliament’s basement with gunpowder to blow it up during the first session with King James present. The plot was discovered and foiled.

Americans generally, and most of the forty-two percent specifically, don’t like explosive politics. Obama, the Quiet Radical, moved too fast. His party lost the House in 2010, almost lost the Senate in 2012, and finally did in 2014. (The only reason he was reelected is his race. Said differently, if he were white and named Jimmy Carter, he would have lost.

One factor I amazingly neglected to mention above.

Image counts more than substance nowadays.)

Hence, Trumpmania, as with Obamania before it.  Which speaks to the gullibility of a lot more than just "low-information" voters.

6. The Establishment [know]s that incrementalism is the only way to re-transform America.

In a huge, extended family, which society is somewhat like, it is best to be a peacemaker, negotiator and visionary (not that those standoffish cousins or feisty brother will listen to you). It is bad to act like a tyrant and impose law and order from on high. You must move slowly, incrementally to keep the majority of the family coalition together.

In other words, persuasion, not beratement.

Liberals have been smart, it must be conceded. After eighty-five years of the steady growth of government, wandering far from what the Founders envisioned, Americans by and large now like the state – perhaps even a big one (except when it hurts their self-interest as ObamaCare does). Liberals have gradually transformed America with lots of speeches about how the big state will benefit people and how the private and public sectors need to “work together.”

But even when FDR moved too quickly, as in attempting to pack the Supreme Court, he was rebuffed.

So how come anti-establishmentarians believe that if they perform lipo on obese Uncle Sam with a rusty, smoky chainsaw, they can win elections?

Yet another variation on the Grand Illusion.

The Grand Illusion that holds that the only way that evil can win is if we "fail to take action," and if we just "Fight!  Fight!  Fight!" hard enough, we will win!, and the reason why we're in this mess that was over a century in the making was because the "establishment" "sold us out".

No, my Tea Party friends.  The "establishment" didn't sell ANYBODY out, and they are NOT the enemy (much less "worse than Trump").  They are doing the best they can while operating in a very hostile political reality, fending off long knives from in front and behind (when we need to be "all hanging together to avoid being all hanged separately"), and operating within and respecting the constitutional constraints in which so many TPers used to believe but now only want applied to the other side.  If you're looking for perfidious devilspawn, try the mirrors of the "summer soldiers" and "sunshine patriots" that sold their erstwhile principles for the magic beans of the New York liberal conman.

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