Here’s the sad truth: the modern day Republican Establishment is more concerned about maintaining the status quo and their bipartisan establishment (little e) stranglehold over government than promoting the core platform of the Republican party or the conservative movement that drives the the party’s grassroots.
This is important to understand, but to truly comprehend what it means, you have to see it for what it is. Thankfully, there is very little effort made by the Establishment (big E) to hide their agenda. We see it in Congress as they continually give President Obama every budget his heart desires despite controlling the House and Senate. We see it in their unwillingness to make an real stand against the liberal policies that go against their stated public principles but that actually benefit them on the back end with their big government tendencies.
To the Republican Establishment, conservatism is not an embraceable ideology but simply a part of their campaign sales pitches. The majority of Establishment candidates have no intention of keeping their more conservative campaign promises; Marco Rubio’s Gang of Eight is the shining example of campaigning one way, governing the exact opposite way. They defend their trepidation and flip-flopping with a slew of canned responses:
- They will hide behind futility: “We’re personally pro-life but the law of the land is Roe v. Wade so they can’t do anything about it.”
- They will hide behind bipartisan deal-making: “We didn’t want to give President Obama everything he desired in the budget but it was the only way we could keep the government from shutting down, but boy did we get a good deal for the military… we really stuck it to them!”
- They’ll hide behind falsehoods: “We don’t want to send too many ideologically sound bills to the White House to get vetoed because it makes us look bad.”
- They’ll hide behind fear: “If we support a balanced budget amendment, then poor people will die from our inability to take care of them.”
They thrive on the status quo. They embrace an agenda that is more moderate than their campaign platforms because it’s the agenda that they truly believe will keep the country going. I’m not claiming that they’re greedy, evil elitists (not all of them, at least) like many pundits suggest. They’re simply misguided into believing that the delicate nature of our country’s economy and foreign relationships cannot handle the major conservative shakeups that we haven’t seen since Ronald Reagan. They don’t agree with everything that has been happening in Washington DC for three decades, but they find it preferable to the massive repercussions that they and the country would endure if true conservative principles were applied to the leadership structure of the country.
They fear extremes. They like the mushy middle. It’s safer for them as individuals, for their ubiquitous influences on everything private and public, and for the country itself. On this last point, I wholeheartedly disagree. Their desire to keep the status quo is what will allow for the next major devastation to occur, whether economic or through outside factors such as terrorism or war.
The biggest mistake that Republicans can make, whether conservative or moderate, is to believe that the Republican Establishment is more interested in maintaining the sanctity of the Republican Party than maintaining the Establishment. The second biggest mistake that Republicans can make is to believe that the Republican Establishment is nebulous; people and entities like Paul Ryan, Karl Rove, Sheldon Adelson, Mitch McConnell, Fox News, Reince Priebus, the Koch brothers, John McCain, the Bush family, and the Wall Street Journal might not agree on everything, but they all have an allegiance to the status quo that supersedes any outward support for conservative principles.
They’re only conservative when the ideologies don’t get in the way of their goals and they’re only Republican in that the tendencies of most Republicans are not contrary to their ever-so-slightly-right-leaning establishment agenda.
Why is this such an important distinction? To understand why Donald Trump was not halted before it became essentially too late, we have to realize that he represents a pseudo-shakeup. He’s running on an anti-establishment platform with rhetoric that galvanizes his base, but the policy proposals he’s offering are understood by the true power brokers in the Republican Establishment as falling into one of three categories:
- Aligned with their own: maintain entitlements, increase government spending, enhance federal control
- Not achievable: get Mexico to pay for a wall
- Harmless: repeal Obamacare and replace it with socialized medicine
There’s a reason why real conservatives like Mark Levin, Ben Shapiro, and Brent Bozell III are adamantly against Trump while most in the Establishment are in “wait and see” mode. They’re opposed, but they see in Trump enough Establishment leanings to realize that he won’t change the status quo as much as his campaign rhetoric claims.