If the word “establishment” ever meant anything, it certainly doesn’t anymore.
Before Donald Trump, “establishment” was a very specific term. It denoted blatantly corrupt figures who made careers exclusively in politics.
But, according to Trump and his supporters, who is “establishment” in 2016? One-term senators are “establishment,” governors nine years out of retirement are “establishment,” even people who have never been in politics are “establishment.”
It is a bit hard to defend the “establishment” because, according to Trump’s model, any Republican who is against him is “establishment.”
Nevertheless, I defend political bosses and party elders such as Reince Priebus, Mitt Romney and John Boehner; veteran politicians such as John Kasich and Jeb Bush; and also loyal young bloods such as Marco Rubio and Paul Ryan.
In 2011, the Republican party was $23 million in debt and the government was universally controlled by the Democrats. In just one year, the “establishment” raised $88 million, erasing the party’s debt and seizing multiple congressional seats. Two years later, “establishment” politicians led the Republican Party to one of its largest electoral victories in almost a century.
But what are numbers when Obama passed X, Y and Z? When one party owns two of the three branches of government, and the other barely controls one, there is not much that the minority party can do to stop the majority party.
We tried to shut the government down, but when two branches say, “We’re willing to cooperate, it’s these guys who are ruining everything,” there’s not much a party can do to avoid losing national support and risk losing the gains they made.
It’s no coincidence that, since sweeping Congress in 2014, Obama has had to resort to vetoes and executive orders. Would you prefer that Republicans not operate through the binds of the Constitution and work outside the law like we so often claim Democrats do?
There is a damaging thought that is inserting itself in the Republican Party that experience is a detriment. We have begun to condemn battle-hardened veterans like Kasich and Bush in favor of men with no experience because experience is now considered a bad thing in politics. That’s like saying, “I don’t like these Seal Team Six guys. They’ve been in the military for too long. I have some accountants and plumbers that I think will do a better job. Now, I hear your concerns, but these men were never in the army, so they’re better.”
In addition to the inherent flaw in the argument, there are tactical issues to this approach. Guess who isn’t getting rid of their battle-hardened politicians? Democrats. If we keep up this stigma against experience, majorities won’t matter, as the experienced Democrats will run circles around the novices we send to the Capitol.
The 2016 election was predicted, even by Democrats, to be an overwhelming and crushing Republican victory.
Imagine this election with the bright-eyed, charismatic and optimistic Latino Marco Rubio, the Floridian senator, as the nominee. What about John Kasich, the seasoned veteran whose message of hope and unity made him wildly popular in a key swing state? Would Hillary have stood a chance?
Upon defeat in 2012, Priebus commissioned Para Bellum Labs to determine just why Romney lost.
The answer would not surprise you. Para Bellum Labs determined that if the Republican Party wished to win they would have to have a kinder, more open platform.
We must put full force behind attracting Latinos and African-Americans.
Finally, and most importantly, we have to shake the image of being a party for old white misogynists who like to throw temper tantrums.
Needless to say, the party did not follow the advice of the “establishment” and is now fighting for its life in what should have been a slam dunk election that ushered in a new golden age of conservatism.